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Best & Worst Years of Cadillac Escalade – Graphs & Owner Surveys

The best years of the Cadillac Escalade are 2022, 2020, 2016-2017, 2013-2014, 2010-2011, 2006, and 2002. The years you should avoid are 2007-2009, 2003-2005, 2015, 2012, 2018-2019, and 2021. Most issues are related to engine misfires that result in a need for new spark plugs.

Cadillac Escalade parked roadside at sunset

The Cadillac Escalade arrived over 20 years ago as a reskinned GMC Yukon. Since then, it has gone on to become one of the most coveted luxury full-size SUVs in the industry. Oozing with high-end amenities, the Escalade has helped Cadillac get back to its “Standard of the World” form. 

Over those 20 years, the Escalade has seen five generations of steady improvements, but like any vehicle, some ‘Slades are better than others. This makes this an ideal time to analyze 20 years of FIXD device data to determine the best and worst model years of the Cadillac Escalade.

Best Years



All-time FIXD Reliability Score high


Reliability and values move up, service costs move down


Purchase value sweet spot


Notable reliability improvement


Strong reliability, improved fuel economy 


High F.I.R.I.S. score, market values show strength


Smooth launch of 2nd-generation

Worst Years



Poorly executed launch of 3rd-gen model


Market values drop, reliability struggles


Debut of 4th-gen spells reliability trouble


FIXD Reliability Score drops


Repair bills skyrocket, reliability trends down


New 5th-gen model marred by iffy reliability

Cadillac Escalade Engine Reliability Score, Safety Ratings, MPG, Value v.s. Value for the Money, and F.I.R.I.S. – Year by Year

The Cadillac Escalade Reliability Score chart below is the main factor in our ranking of the best and worst model years. It displays an objective measure of reliability based on data collected from thousands of FIXD devices installed in customer cars.

It’s not unusual for the first model year of a new generation to struggle with reliability as the manufacturer irons out production problems. You can see this on the graph for the 2007, 2015, and 2021 model years, all of which marked the start of a new Escalade generation.

This theme plays out across the auto industry including with Escalade competitors like the Ford Expedition-based Lincoln Navigator and BMW X7. Not to mention stablemates like the GMC Yukon, and Chevy Tahoe. 

To generate a more comprehensive analysis, we factor in published government safety scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fuel efficiency figures per fueleconomy.gov, current market values from Kelley Blue Book (KBB), and annual maintenance costs from RepairPal.

We also generate a FIXD Internet Review Index Score (F.I.R.I.S), which allows for a subjective reliability counterpoint to the objective device-based data. You can learn more about how this score is calculated below, but it is based on figures gathered from Edmunds, KBB, Cargurus, and Cars.com

Where applicable, we note frequently encountered Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) and important safety recalls issued by the NHTSA as well.

The goal here is to help current Cadillac Escalade owners, and potential buyers, learn about what to watch out for from one model year to the next. On that topic, if you’re in the market for a car, take a look at our article on the USA’s most reliable and cheapest to repair cars in the U.S. Don’t get stuck with a lemon, use our data to help you shop.

Engine Reliability Score – Over The Years

Cadillac Escalade Reliability Score

The green line on the Cadillac Escalade Reliability Score chart above is based on the total number of CELs that have been recorded by customer-installed FIXD devices for each model year. After tallying them up, we weight this objective score by average mileage and convert it into a 1-10 scale where 10 is the best and 1 is the worst. 

As is typically the case, newer model years fare better than older versions when it comes to reliability. But as you can see on the chart, even late-model Escalades – like the 2018 model – can struggle with reliability. We’ll dive deep into this topic in the relevant section below. 

At the bottom of this article, you can also find more details on how we calculate the FIXD Reliability Score. This rundown of the most common CELs to expect from an Escalade is just one more data point in what to expect when it comes to reliability from your big ol’ Cadillac SUV.

NHTSA Safety Score – Over The Years

Cadillac Escalade NHTSA Safety Rating

The green line on the Cadillac Escalade NHTSA Safety Rating chart above is based on the average safety score, for all trim lines, of a given model year. It is overlaid with the average safety rating of the entire auto industry (gray line) to give a reference point for Escalade safety. In both cases, the figures come from published NHTSA safety data.

Clearly, the Escalade has had some ups and downs when it comes to safety. It lagged the industry by a significant margin until 2006, but since then has hovered more closely to this benchmark. Interestingly, the Escalade scored well in 2011 crash testing, a year when the rest of the industry struggled due to new protocols from the NHTSA.

Understanding how a given model year of the Cadillac Escalade ranks for safety is important as it plays a main role in keeping insurance premiums down. If you live in one of the states listed below, we can show you the cheapest vehicles to insure in yours. 

What Used Cars Are the Cheapest To Insure In:
North Carolina
New York

MPG – Over The Years

Cadillac Escalade MPG

The chart above for Cadillac Escalade Average MPG is based on average combined fuel economy figures – from fueleconomy.gov – for all Escalade trim lines of each model year. Where applicable, we’ve included figures for hybrid models along with E85 and diesel fuel.

Nobody is buying a ‘Slade for the fuel economy, but it does manage to improve marginally over time. This is typical of any vehicle as improvements in powertrain technology enable higher levels of fuel efficiency. It’s particularly noticeable when new generations arrive, like in 2015 when an all-new motor and transmission debuted.

Current Market Value of All Cadillac Escalade Years vs. Value for the Money

Cadillac Escalade Cost of Repairs

This graph of Cadillac Escalade Market Value vs. Cost of Repairs plots Escalade market values per Kelley Blue Book against average annual maintenance costs per RepairPal. It’s one more element we use to create a well-rounded analysis of the best and worst model years of Caddy’s flagship SUV.

Generally speaking, values are higher for newer Escalades, but this uptrend goes practically vertical between 2020 and 2021. Evidently, the 5th-gen Escalade that arrived in 2021 is particularly sought after. The opposite is true of 2005, which saw values collapse. It’s part of the reason these old Escalades are on our list of worst model years. 

When shopping for a used Cadillac Escalade, it’s important to keep in mind that not all vehicles are cared for equally. To protect yourself from lemons, take along a FIXD Sensor on your test drive. FIXD connects to a free app on your smartphone to tell you more about the vehicle you’re checking out, including check engine lights and other hidden issues that the owner or dealership may be attempting to hide. Click here to learn more and get FIXD for only $19.99 (regular price $59)!

F.I.R.I.S. – FIXD Internet Review Index Score– Over the Model Years

Cadillac Escalade F.I.R.I.S Score

The chart above, Cadillac Escalade F.I.R.I.S. Score provides a subjective perspective on reliability. To generate it, we gather scores published by Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, Cargurus, and Cars.com for each year of the Escalade. Once averaged, we put the F.I.R.I.S score on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is the worst and 10 is the best. 

As you can see, the early Escalades generally performed better than the later models, though the most recent versions have posted an increase since the 2nd-gen debuted in 2015. This could be due to the fact that the Escalade had less competition 20 years ago than it does today. 

Luxury liners like the Jeep Grand Wagoneer and BMW X7 have arrived on the scene since then, which may make the Escalade seem less impressive than it once did. 

Important Features Timeline

1999 – 1st-gen Escalade debuts with a 5.7L V8 and 4-speed automatic

2000 – Rear “barn door” style tailgate offered 

2002 – 2nd-gen Escalade debuts, 5.3L and 6.0L V8s offered, Avalanche-based EXT version released

2003 – Suburban-based ESV variant arrives, host of new safety systems made standard

2004 – First Platinum trim shows up with chrome 20s and climatized seats

2005 – 5.3L V8 dropped, minor interior refresh, navigation gains touch capability

2006 – Carryover year with no major changes

2007 – 3rd-gen Escalade debuts with new 6.2L V8 and a 6-speed automatic

2008 – E85 “Flex-Fuel” capability added, LED headlights become available

2009 – Hybrid variant unveiled, Bluetooth connectivity made standard

2010 – Cylinder deactivation system shows up along with an upgraded safety structure

2011 – 2nd-row headrests grow in size, single-disc CD player replaced by a 6-disc unit

2012 – Navigation system enhanced with backup guidelines and low fuel warning

2013 – Four new colors added to the paint palette, grade braking performance is revised

2014 – EXT and hybrid models both discontinued, new Midnight Plum Metallic paint offered

2015 –  4th-gen Escalade debuts with a new 6.2L V8 and 8-speed automatic mid-year

2016 – Platinum trim returns loaded to the gills, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto become available

2017 – Automated parking system and digital rearview mirror are made available 

2018 – 10-speed automatic replaces 8-speed transmission, new center console arrives

2019 – Hands-free tailgate gains illuminated Cadillac logo feature

2020 – Dual-screen rear entertainment system dropped, Dark Mocha paint color added

2021 – 5th-gen Escalade debuts with new Duramax turbo diesel powertrain option

2022 – New Touring package bundles air suspension, soft-close doors, and more

The Best Years of the Cadillac Escalade

Taking into account FIXD reliability, F.I.R.I.S ratings, fuel efficiency, safety ratings, market values, and annual repair costs, we’ve come up with this list of the best Cadillac Escalades. Pertinent recall information and notes about common DTCs are included as well.

Night photo of a 2022 Cadillac Escalade luxury suv limo used for Uber and Lyft

FIXD Reliability Score: 10/10

FIXD Internet Review Index Score (F.I.R.I.S.): 8.8/10

Mileage Est. KBB Value: $79,936

Fuel Economy: 16 mpg (gas) 22.5 (diesel)

RepairPal Average Annual Repairs Total: N/A

Safety Rating: 4.4/5 

The 2022 Cadillac Escalade checks all the “best of the best” boxes. It has an all-time high, and perfect, FIXD Reliability Score of 10. The F.I.R.I.S. rating moves up significantly versus 2021. Diesel-powered models offer an extra 6 mpg combined over the gas-powered models and the strong KBB figures show how these late-model ‘Slades hold value. 

RepairPal service costs are unavailable for the 2022 Escalade, but the NHTSA rated these models a 4.4 out of 5, which is relatively high. On that note, Cadillac made the Buckle to Drive system a standard safety feature on the 2022 model.

Two of the most common DTCs for the 2022 Escalade are software-related issues. DTC P00FF is triggered when the Body Control Module has a software anomaly, which was the subject of a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) issued by General Motors. 

DTC P25A2 also pops up when there is a software problem, though in this case, it is related to the Brake System Control Module. It too has an associated TSB from GM.

If you encounter DTC P0606, it means the Engine Control or Powertrain Control Module is malfunctioning. This is a serious issue caused by either a faulty module or bad wiring. You should stop driving the vehicle immediately in this instance to avoid additional problems. 

Another thing the 2022 Escalade has going for it is the low recall count of just two. Of these recalls, one for improperly riveted seat belt buckles impacted about 484,000 vehicles. Any Cadillac dealer should fix recall-related work on a vehicle up to 15 model years old. You can use this NHTSA VIN tool to see if your Cadillac has any outstanding recalls.

Cadillac Escalade 2020 black car at a dealership.

FIXD Reliability Score: 9/10

FIXD Internet Review Index Score (F.I.R.I.S.): 8.4/10

Mileage Est. KBB Value: $46,918

Fuel Economy: 17 mpg

RepairPal Average Annual Repairs Total: $754

Safety Rating: 4.3/5 

During the final year of 4th-gen production, the 2020 Escalade posted a 2-point FIXD Reliability Score improvement. This is likely attributed to the automaker having plenty of time to perfect production of this generation Escalade, ensuring solid reliability. 

These late-model ‘Slades also jumped some $10,000 in market value over the 2019 models, are part of a stretch of high average fuel economy, have strong safety ratings, and showed a slight uptick in the F.I.R.I.S. rating. On top of all that, annual repair costs are nearly $200 below the average of $925 and almost $1,000 less than the 2019 Escalade for this metric. 

An issue with the Transmission Control Module (TCM) is responsible for two common DTCs on the 2020 Escalade. DTC P0700 means the TCM itself may be defective, while DTC P2535 is triggered when the TCM detects a low voltage reading. Both point to the importance of staying on top of your automatic transmission service.

DTC P015B shows up when there is a delayed response from the oxygen (O2) sensor. Expect to pay between $200 and $300 for a new O2 sensor.

Of the 2 recalls issued for the 2020 Escalade, one related to over-cured tires developing a break in the sidewall was the most significant as it affected 33,000 vehicles. 

Fast moving Cadillac Escalade on the city road. Fast motion with blurred background.

FIXD Reliability Score: 8-9/10

FIXD Internet Review Index Score (F.I.R.I.S.): 7.8-8.1/10

Mileage Est. KBB Value: $28,867-$32,394

Fuel Economy: 17 mpg

RepairPal Average Annual Repairs Total: $993-$1,102

Safety Rating: 4.2-4.3/5 

If you’re looking for a Cadillac Escalade with a strong purchase value, we recommend checking out the 2016 model. With an average odometer reading of 84,000 miles and a price tag under $30,000, these 6-year-old ‘Slades are priced just right. 

Of course, they’re also very reliable per FIXD data, are well-liked per the F.I.R.I.S rating, and average 17 mpg combined which is on the high side for an Escalade. Annual repair costs that hover around the $925 average are just icing on top of this value-packed Cadillac cake. 

Also, the most common DTC encountered on these models is P0300, which is on the low side of repair costs. Triggered by an engine misfire, it is usually corrected with a new set of spark plugs for less than $200. You can check out our DTC P0300 explainer video for more information. 

Both DTC P0700 and P0711 are triggered by a malfunctioning TCM. The former could mean there are defective parts with the transmission, while the latter is specific to the transmission oil temperature sensor. The NHTSA issued a special coverage announcement around DTC P0711.

The NHTSA also issued 4 recalls on the 2016 Escalade and one of them, for weak control arm welds, resulted in an “URGENT: DO NOT DRIVE THIS VEHICLE” notice. Of the 2 recalls on the 2017 Escalade, one for a vacuum pump leak impacting power brake assistance affected some 3.4 million vehicles. 

2014 Black Cadillac Escalade car vehicle parked outdoor

FIXD Reliability Score: 8-9/10

FIXD Internet Review Index Score (F.I.R.I.S.): 8.5-8.8/10

Mileage Est. KBB Value: $13,322-$15,888

Fuel Economy: 15 mpg (gas) 21 mpg (hybrid)

RepairPal Average Annual Repairs Total: $1,041-$1,094

Safety Rating: 4.4/5 

In 2013, the Escalade posted a significant 5-point FIXD score increase followed in 2014 by 1 more point. There’s no clear correlation for what triggered this improvement, but these 10-year-old 3rd-gen ‘Slades are objectively reliable. Edmunds, KBB, Cargurus, and Cars.com agree, as evidenced by the F.I.R.I.S. rating bumping up against a 9 out of 10. 

As well, the 2013 models were still offering a hybrid powertrain. Though not exactly fuel efficient by typical hybrid standards, in comparison with the 15 mpg on tap with the gas-powered Escalade, 21 mpg sounds positively amazing. Other highlights include strong safety ratings, annual repair bills just above average, and market values that move in the right direction. 

Issues with the engine oil pressure sensor are responsible for DTC P0521 and P0523, both of which are frequently seen on these Escalades. Thankfully, fixing this issue is relatively cheap at $90-$150. If DTC P0455 shows up, it means there is a leak in the Evaporative Emission Control (EVAP) system. Usually, tightening the gas cap will fix this problem. 

DTC P0307 is triggered by a misfire in cylinder 7. This is a severe issue that is typically caused by worn-out spark plugs. When the Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) sensor is on the fritz, you may see DTC P0107.

On the recall front, the 2013 Escalade received 4 recalls including one for the transmission unexpectedly shifting out of park. There were just 2 recalls for the 2014 Escalade with one for exploding front passenger airbag inflators impacting some 1.7 million vehicles. 

2011 Cadillac Escalade at a city street, photo in black and white

FIXD Reliability Score: 5-6/10

FIXD Internet Review Index Score (F.I.R.I.S.): 8.6/10

Mileage Est. KBB Value: $9,655-$10,259

Fuel Economy: 15-16 mpg (gas) 21-22 mpg (hybrid) 11.6-12 mpg (E85)

RepairPal Average Annual Repairs Total: $832-$949

Safety Rating: 4.0-4.4/5

Midway through 3rd-gen production in 2010, Cadillac added a cylinder deactivation system called “Active Fuel Management” to the Escalade. It correlates with an improvement in fuel economy that year, but these older ‘Slades also offered a hybrid variant for even more miserly fuel usage. 

Given this modification to the powertrain, it’s impressive that the FIXD score moved up 2 points between 2010 and 2011. Considering these ‘Slades are beginning to arrive at the 150,000-mile mark, annual repair bills that stay near or below average are commendable. 

Last, but far from least, is the fact that the 2011 model stepped up its safety rating at a time when the rest of the industry stumbled. This correlates with Cadillac adding new front-side airbags and a new, stronger door structure in the name of safety a year earlier. 

DTC P0304 is one of the most common causes of a CEL on the 2010 and 2011 Escalade. It is triggered by an engine misfire and means you’re due for a new set of ignition coils. This usually costs between $50 and $175 at a shop. A related issue, DTC P0300, is more likely caused by the need to replace the spark plugs. 

When DTC P0523 shows up, expect to pay up to $150 for a new engine oil pressure sensor. And you’ll know it’s time for a new O2 sensor when DTC P0135 lights up.

All 3 recalls issued for the 2010 Escalade were for an issue with airbag inflators exploding as part of the industry-wide Takata mess. These recalls collectively affected nearly 5 million vehicles. Of the 6 recalls on the 2011 model, one for fracturing rear axle cross pins impacted about 30,000 vehicles. 

2006 Cadillac Escalade at the city street.

FIXD Reliability Score: 5/10

FIXD Internet Review Index Score (F.I.R.I.S.): 9.2/10

Mileage Est. KBB Value: $5,731

Fuel Economy: 13 mpg

RepairPal Average Annual Repairs Total: $879

Safety Rating: 3.5/5

As mentioned earlier, these O.G. Escalades tend to have a higher F.I.R.I.S rating, which is one reason we like the 2006 model. Additionally, the FIXD Reliability Score moved up 1 point over 2005, annual repair bills dropped under the $925 average, and market values posted a notable increase of $3,000 versus the prior year. 

It’s not all rosy, which is why the 2006 model is near the bottom of the “best of” ranking. For instance, fuel economy is quite pathetic thanks to this being a year that only offered the thirsty 6.0L V8. And the safety rating comes in on the low side, so be sure to factor in how this may impact your insurance premium if you’re looking to make a purchase.

Also, be sure to check out the transmission service history as DTC P0894 is a common trouble code on the 2006 Escalade. It means something is amiss with the transmission, a problem that could cost as much as $3,000 to have repaired. 

Fortunately, DTC P0455, which is caused by a leak in the EVAP system, likely just means the gas cap is loose. And DTC P0174, which is triggered by a faulty Mass Airflow (MAF) sensor shouldn’t cost more than $300 to fix.  

There were only 2 recalls for the 2006 Escalade. One of those recalls, for a power steering hose leak, impacted about 123,000 vehicles. 

Cadillac crest and logo closeup

FIXD Reliability Score: 5/10

FIXD Internet Review Index Score (F.I.R.I.S.): 9.2/10

Mileage Est. KBB Value: $4,350

Fuel Economy: 13 mpg

RepairPal Average Annual Repairs Total: $754

Safety Rating: 3.3/5

Typically, when an automaker launches a new vehicle generation, reliability dives. But not so with the 2002 Escalade that marked year one of the 2nd generation. It came with a relatively strong FIXD Reliability Score, a very strong F.I.R.I.S. rating, and over time would prove cheap to maintain. 

Fuel economy is the pits and the safety rating is nothing to write home about, but these SUVs are over 20 years old with odometer readings likely in the neighborhood of 250,000 miles. It’s why these 2002 ‘Slades occupy the bottom rung of our “best of” ratings – they’re good but should be taken with a grain of salt. 

Watch out for throttle body issues on these 2nd-gen Escalades. DTC P1515, which shows up with some frequency, is triggered by a problem with the Throttle Actuator Control assembly and DTC P1221 means the Throttle Position Sensor – which is mounted on the throttle body – is acting up. 

DTC P0106 shows up when the MAP sensor is malfunctioning. This is a severe issue that should be addressed immediately. Expect to pay between $50 and $160 to have this problem remedied. 

The NHTSA issued 4 recalls for the 2002 Escalade. Of those, the most significant was related to replacement wheel hub assemblies coming loose and possibly leading to a detached wheel. Yikes. About 130,000 vehicles were affected. 

The Worst Years of the Cadillac Escalade

Working with the same information to determine the best Cadillac Escalades, we’ve compiled a list of model years to avoid. Worse reliability and bigger service bills are the norm with these poor-performing Escalades. We are starting from the absolute worst and progressing to the “best of the worst”.

2007 Cadillac Escalade parked outside a trade center.

FIXD Reliability Score: 3/10

FIXD Internet Review Index Score (F.I.R.I.S.): 8.5-8.9/10

Mileage Est. KBB Value: $7,017-$8,572

Fuel Economy: 14-15 mpg (gas) 20 mpg (hybrid) 11 mpg (E85)

RepairPal Average Annual Repairs Total: $594-$811

Safety Rating: 4.3/5

A bottom-of-the-barrel FIXD Reliability Score is guaranteed to land a vehicle on our worst model year list. Particularly when that score – a 3 out of 10 in this case – is achieved 3 years in a row as it did with the 2007, 2008, and 2009 Escalade. 

These were also the first 3 years of 3rd-gen production, so it’s not too surprising as early models of a new series normally struggle with reliability. But Cadillac went hog wild by implementing a new 6.2L V8, a new variable-valve timing (VVT) system, a new 6-speed transmission, the addition of E85 capability, AND a hybrid variant. 

That’s a whole lot of mechanical monkeying and reliability suffered as a result. Salting the wound, the F.I.R.I.S. rating dropped versus 2006 and market values decreased into 2008. The VVT system and hybrid option did help with fuel economy and the safety ratings improved over this span, but these are objectively very unreliable Escalades. 

A problematic MAF sensor is responsible for 2 of the most common DTCs on these Escalades – P0171 and P0174. DTC P0171 means the air-to-fuel ratio is out of balance in cylinder bank 1, while P0174 means the same thing, but for cylinder bank 2. Repairs usually cost between $170 and $310. 

That new VVT system translates to an issue with camshaft timing that triggers DTC P0011, a severe problem that should be fixed ASAP. DTC P0523 will show up when there’s a problem with the engine oil pressure switch, an issue that costs about $150 to repair. 

If you encounter DTC P0455, it can usually be addressed by simply tightening the gas cap. However, DTC P0430 means the catalytic converter is on its way out and a new one costs up to $2,000. DTC P0325 pops up when the knock sensor is malfunctioning and DTC P0303, which is triggered by an engine misfire, means it’s time for new spark plugs. 

There were 5 recalls on the 2007 Escalade with one for a short-circuiting windshield wiper component impacting some 857,000 vehicles. Of the 4 recalls issued for the 2008 model, one for faulty airbag inflators affected several million vehicles. An issue with water in the fuel system control module was the most significant of the 5 recalls on the 2009 ‘Slade. 

Cadillac logo sign close-up.

FIXD Reliability Score: 3-4/10

FIXD Internet Review Index Score (F.I.R.I.S.): 9.2-9.3/10

Mileage Est. KBB Value: $2,129-$5,214

Fuel Economy: 13-14 mpg

RepairPal Average Annual Repairs Total: $629-$1,029

Safety Rating: 3.5-4.0/5

Although these early Escalades earned high F.I.R.I.S. ratings, the way the FIXD Reliability Score descends to an all-time low and struggles to move away from it relegates them to the list of models to avoid. Additionally, annual repair costs jumped above average in 2004 and market values fell in 2 of the 3 years – 2003 and 2005. 

Cadillac implemented safety improvements including dual-stage front airbags and 3-point seatbelts for all 1st and 2nd-row seats for the 2003 Escalade. All of which helped move the crash-test rating up for 2004, but it came back down the following year, dropping a significant half point. 

Granted, these Escalades are getting up there in age with mileage well past 200,000, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re best avoided from a reliability viewpoint. 

One of the most frequently tallied DTCs during this period is P1516, which is triggered by an issue with the throttle body. If you need to replace the throttle body, expect to pay between $320 and $460. The need for a new intake manifold gasket, as indicated by DTC P0300, is an even pricier affair that can cost nearly $750. 

DTCs P0446, P0449, and P0455 are all related to leaks in the EVAP system. Fortunately, the most common cause of all 3 issues is a loose gas cap that can often be corrected by simply tightening it. If you encounter DTC P0101, it means the MAF sensor is acting up. Cleaning the MAF sensor may fix this problem, but if you need to replace it, costs range from $170 to $310.

An issue with an O2 sensor is the reason for both DTC P0160 and P0161. A new oxygen sensor shouldn’t cost you more than $300. You can learn more about this essential emissions control system component in our DTC P0161 explainer video.

The 2003 Escalade received 7 recalls, including one for a problem with the brake hydro-boost housing relief valve that impacted 68,000 vehicles. 

An issue with both tailgate support cables snapping was the most significant of the 5 recalls on the 2004 model as it affected 3.6 million vehicles. Of the 4 recalls on the 2005 Escalade, leaking aftermarket Fram fuel filters were the most notable. 

2015 Black Cadillac Escalade car moving on the street

FIXD Reliability Score: 6/10

FIXD Internet Review Index Score (F.I.R.I.S.): 7.7/10

Mileage Est. KBB Value: $22,602

Fuel Economy: 17 mpg

RepairPal Average Annual Repairs Total: $1,235

Safety Rating: 4.3/5

Cadillac unveiled the 4th-gen Escalade in 2015 with a new 6.2L V8 motor and a new 8-speed automatic transmission mid-year. This recipe for reliability trouble hit hard as the 2015 model dropped 3 points in the FIXD reliability metric and just over 1 point for the F.I.R.I.S. rating – both of which are relatively significant decreases. 

KBB market values did move up strongly and fuel economy showed a marked improvement however, annual repair bills jumped $200 over the prior year to one of the highest points of any Escalade, and safety ratings dipped even though these models came with a new front-center airbag. Not good. 

Also not good is that 2 of the most common DTCs for these 2015 Escalades are transmission-related. DTC P0700 means you’ve either got a faulty TCM or defective parts within the transmission. DTC P0711 is triggered when the transmission fluid temperature is running too hot. 

DTC P0128, another frequent offender, shows up when the engine coolant temperature is out of range. We go into more detail with this DTC P0128 explainer video, but you may be on the hook for a new thermostat, which costs around $500. 

There were 7 recalls issued for the 2015 Escalade. Of those, a fire-risk problem related to overheating exhaust components and melted plastic impacted over 300,000 vehicles. 

2012 Cadillac Escalade in the city street.

FIXD Reliability Score: 5/10

FIXD Internet Review Index Score (F.I.R.I.S.): 9.0/10

Mileage Est. KBB Value: $12,483

Fuel Economy: 15 mpg (gas) 21 mpg (hybrid) 11.6 mpg (E85)

RepairPal Average Annual Repairs Total: $930

Safety Rating: 4.4/5

For a vehicle more than 10 years old, the 2012 Escalade isn’t all bad. Annual repair bills stay right around average, market values move in the right direction, and the F.I.R.I.S. rating improved over the prior year. As well, potential buyers can look for a hybrid variant to enjoy better fuel efficiency. 

Unfortunately, the FIXD Reliability Score moved in the wrong direction for these 3rd-gen Escalades and when objective reliability goes down, you can be sure we’re not going to recommend a vehicle. 

Engine misfires are responsible for 2 of the most common DTCs on the 2012 Escalade, DTC P0300 and P0301. DTC P0300 typically means it’s time for a new set of spark plugs, while DTC P0301 means you’ll be replacing the ignition coils. In both cases, a repair shop shouldn’t charge you more than $175 for this work. 

DTC P0523 is another common cause of a CEL on these models. It’s triggered by a faulty engine oil pressure sensor, which costs about $150 to have repaired. There were only 3 recalls for the 2012 Escalade, including one for a binding ignition lock actuator that impacted about 84,000 vehicles. 

2019 Cadillac Escalade in the city street.

FIXD Reliability Score: 7-8/10

FIXD Internet Review Index Score (F.I.R.I.S.): 8.1-8.3/10

Mileage Est. KBB Value: $34,936-$36,903

Fuel Economy: 17 mpg

RepairPal Average Annual Repairs Total: $629-$1,667

Safety Rating: 4.2-4.3/5

Towards the end of 4th-gen production, Cadillac replaced the 8-speed automatic with a 10-speed unit, which likely drove the 2-point FIXD Reliability Score decline from 2017 through 2019. This unimpressive stat is accompanied by annual repair costs in 2019 that are more than $700 above average. 

Market values are in a general uptrend during this stretch, but begin to flatten out into 2019 and the F.I.R.I.S. rating of 8.1 to 8.3 is good, but not great. Average fuel economy is on the high side for these late-model Escalades and the safety rating shows a slight uptick, so it’s not all bad news. It just isn’t all that impressive either. 

Two frequently encountered DTCs on the 2018 and 2019 ‘Slade are TCM-related. DTC P0700 indicates the TCM may need replacing, while DTC U0101 is triggered when the TCM has lost communication with other vehicle control modules. 

There are also a pair of DTCs that show up with some regularity here due to engine misfires – P0300 and P0301. In both cases, replacement spark plugs should fix the issue. You can expect to pay between $60 and $170 to have a mechanic do this work. 

In the case of DTC P015B, look at a problem with the oxygen sensor. This article covers how to replace an oxygen sensor as a new one will cost you up to $300 at a shop. 

Over in the recall department, the 2019 Escalade fared exceptionally well as there are exactly zero recalls for it. The 2018 model only saw 1 recall. It had to do with a reduction in the level of power brake assist due to a vacuum pump issue.

2021 Cadillac Escalade on display.

FIXD Reliability Score: 8/10

FIXD Internet Review Index Score (F.I.R.I.S.): 8.1/10

Mileage Est. KBB Value: $76,826

Fuel Economy: 16 mpg (gas) 22.5 mpg (diesel)

RepairPal Average Annual Repairs Total: N/A

Safety Rating: 4.4/5

Cadillac released the 5th-gen Escalade for the 2021 model year and as is so often the case in this scenario, reliability took a hit. Granted, the FIXD score is relatively high at 8 out of 10, which is part of the reason these late model ‘Slades are in the “best of the worst” spot on our rankings. 

But along with a decrease in objective reliability, the F.I.R.I.S. rating came down over the prior year and there were quite a few recalls for 2021. Nine to be exact, including one related to a loss of power steering assist that impacted some 26,000 vehicles. 

Market values were significantly better in 2021, posting a $30,000 increase over the 2020 model. And for efficiency-minded buyers, the Duramax turbo diesel-powered Escalade debuted this year with a combined rating of just over 22 mpg. 

We don’t have annual repair figures for these Escalades, but we can tell you the most frequently seen DTC is P0562. It is triggered when the charging system voltage is low, which may lead to replacing the battery at a cost of up to $500 at a shop. 

DTC P25A2 pops up when a software anomaly is detected within the brake system control module – an issue that received a TSB from GM. And if you see DTC U3505, it means the vehicle control system module is showing low voltage, which is likely due to the module harness being open or having a short. 


According to RepairPal, the 2002-2006, 2008, and 2011 Cadillac Escalade register some of the highest instances of engine problems. Specifically, a dirty throttle body causing a lower-than-normal idle speed and in some cases it causes the vehicle to stall out. 

As for transmission trouble, analyzing 20 years of FIXD data shows that the 2007 Escalade triggered 197 instances of DTC P0700. That is far higher than the average of 20 for this code, which indicates a potentially serious problem with the transmission. So, be sure to stay on top of your automatic transmission service if you own one of these models. 

Based on the industry average of 12,000 miles per year, we can say that some early Escalades have 250,000 miles or more on the clock. With the same assumption, we can say that only a few model years – from 2006 and earlier – are in the 200,000-mile range. 

So, 200,000 miles could be considered high mileage for an Escalade. But, keep in mind the durability of a given model will vary widely from one to the next based on prior usage – all highway versus stop-and-go driving for example – and the level of owner upkeep. 

The Cadillac Escalade Hybrid was produced between 2009 and 2013. The 2009 and 2012 Escalades are both on our list of models to avoid in general, though not for any hybrid-specific issues. To be on the safe side, look at a 2010, 2011, or 2013 Escalade Hybrid as all 3 are on our list of best model years.

The full-size luxury SUV market is stacked with options like the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, Ford Expedition-based Lincoln Navigator, BMW X7, and Infiniti QX80. The new Toyota Sequoia in Capstone trim is certainly encroaching on luxury territory and if you want to stay in the GM family, but are looking to save some money, check out the GMC Yukon or Chevy Tahoe.

A Note About Data and Information Sources

This article has many details about Cadillac Escalade reliability; here’s what we used for our assumptions and recommendations.

  • FIXD Reliability Score & Data: Engine reliability information is captured via the FIXD App


The FIXD Reliability Score is calculated using the number of DTCs per year, weighted by mileage using 12,000 per year. This is then turned into a scale of 1-10 for easy graphing. 

This is an objective score.

  • F.I.R.I.S & Data: This data is the result of averaging the score of the Cadillac Escalade from Edmunds, KBB, Cargurus, and Cars.com


Those individual Scores come straight from reviewers and owners of the Cadillac Escalade.  

This is a subjective score.

From here we translate the answers into the F.I.R.I.S as all the answers are out of 5.

Keep in mind, that owners may think their car is more or less reliable than it actually is. 

One potential problem is that people often buy the same make or model they are used to when they go car shopping, just a newer year.

Ford, for instance, has a number of consumer loyalty awards for the Ford F-Series, Ford Mustang, and Ford Expedition.

Car owners may be so loyal to the make or model they currently own that they would have trouble accurately comparing their cars’ reliability to others. 

It’s for this reason that we ask car owners a question that is relative to mileage rather than relative to other cars. 

Still, be mindful of the accuracy of these F.I.R.I.S, people’s perceptions and unconscious blindspots can skew data. 

We suggest looking at both the FIXD Reliability Score and the F.I.R.I.S for this reason.

  • KBB Value: Average private-seller valuations as supplied by Kelley Blue Book (KBB), based on a Cadillac Escalade with typical mileage for that respective model year.
  • Fuel Economy: Mileage-per-gallon estimates according to the EPA MPG on Fueleconomy.gov
  • Annual Maintenance/Repair: Upkeep expenses as reported by RepairPal
  • Safety Rating: Crash test data collected and reported by NHTSA. We average all ratings for each year to come up with a simplified, average safety score. This makes it easier to look at on a graph.


  1. Cadillac Escalade model-specific information. Retrieved October 11, 2023, from https://www.edmunds.com/  
  2. Cadillac Escalade model-specific recall information. Retrieved October 11, 2023, from https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls    
  3. Cadillac Escalade model-specific information. Retrieved October 11, 2023, from https://www.auto-brochures.com   
  4. Cadillac Escalade model-specific information. Retrieved October 11, 2023, from https://media.cadillac.com/media/us/en/cadillac/home.html 
Profile Picture of Niel Stender

Niel Stender grew up doing replacement work on his old Cherokee and sweet Mitsubishi Starion, which led to a degree in mechanical engineering and a job at Ford as a vehicle dynamics engineer. His writing infuses that automotive background with sales and marketing experience. Writing about cars for close to a decade now, he enjoys digging into some of the more technical mechanical systems under the hood and throughout a vehicle.

We’re here to help you simplify car care and save, so this post may contain affiliate links to help you do just that. If you click on a link and take action, we may earn a commission. However, the analysis and opinions expressed are our own.


About the Author

Niel Stender

Niel Stender

Niel Stender grew up doing replacement work on his old Cherokee and sweet Mitsubishi Starion, which led to a degree in mechanical engineering and a job at Ford as a vehicle dynamics engineer. His writing infuses that automotive background with sales and marketing experience. Writing about cars for close to a decade now, he enjoys digging into some of the more technical mechanical systems under the hood and throughout a vehicle.

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