COAL: 2012 Cadillac Escalade Platinum – How To Say Fleetwood Brougham In The 21st Century

How to make a tree look small…


For all the versatility a full size sedan offers, there are just some jobs that an SUV can do better. I quickly realized that I would need to find a truck or a crossover after having to borrow my father in law’s Nissan pickup for jobs that weren’t suited to the Buick Park Ave or my wife’s 2017 XTS. Not to mention the yearly tradition of going out to the country and cutting down a live tree to stick in the living room for the season.

Originally I had my sights set on a Buick Enclave or Cadillac XT6 crossover – but rising interest rates and stubbornly high prices kept that firmly in the realm of imagination over the last half of 2023. We even went so far as to test drive a 2020 XT6 at a local dealer, but just couldn’t make the numbers work. As luck would have it, my mom & stepdad were looking to replace their 2012 Escalade Platinum with something newer. When they bought a 2020 Yukon Denali, we struck a deal to buy the Escalade from them.

LED headlamps and the distinctive Platinum grille differentiate from run of the mill Escalades.


Unfortunately, because I was owed money from various people for my side work, I had to sell three vehicles instead of one – the 94 Fleetwood Brougham, Igor and the Park Ave Ultra were sent onto new owners with the 92 Brougham staying put in the garage. Kind of worked out nicely as now my wife can park the XTS in the garage when snow is in the forecast, and we save on car insurance by only having 3 vehicles instead of 5.

Thanksgiving was delivery day – we decided to do it at our new house this year with a grand total of 20 relatives over (everyone was local except for my mom, stepdad, younger brother, and grandmother). It was a great success – except we forgot to save enough leftovers for ourselves. My folks caravanned out from Central Jersey with the 2020 Yukon and were kind enough to replace the battery before making the trip.

The chrome exhaust surrounds are another Platinum touch.


This 2012 Escalade was leased from Gold Coast Cadillac in Oakhurst NJ, with my stepdad purchasing it in 2015 when it was returned. He smartly got the extended warranty, which was used over the years to repair various items. Most recently the rear load leveling suspension  – shades of almost every full size Cadillac or Buick I have owned over the years.

209 inches long – not as long as 225 of our 92 Brougham.


Being a Platinum edition in “Black Raven” with Ebony Tehama Full Leather seats (and leather on the dash & upper door panels), this is the nicest vehicle my wife & I have ever owned. It rides on 22 inch rims with Magnetic Ride Control providing the smooth ride Cadillacs are known for. Measuring the road at 1,000 per second, it helps dampen the rough roads here in Western PeeAye. Even the front cupholders are heated and cooled – a gimmick, but one that I find myself and my wife using whenever we make a Dunks run.

Heated and cooled – how bougie can you get?


The instrument panel is tasteful and looks upscale to me with the blue and white backlighting, even with the lack of full instrumentation. Not to mention different enough from the plebian Tahoe/Yukon IP to make you feel like you got something for the extra sheckles. The wood is real olive ash & burled walnut on the Platinum, unlike in Fleetwood Brougham’s of the 80’s & 90’s (only the FWD Fleetwood did get real wood).

Real wood on the dash & wheel.


Electronic gadgetry is everywhere – power liftgate, remote start, auto dim high beams, power tilt wheel, heated & cooled seats, and power retractable assist steps just to name a few things. Along with 3 screens for back seat passengers – two in the front headrests and one on the headliner. The heated steering wheel comes in handy on chilly winter mornings, as I usually forget to put on gloves.

Steering Wheel Bacon!


Bose once again provides the top shelf Caddy with a 10 speaker sound system that includes DTS Digital Surround tech to upconvert 2 channel sources to 5.1. And the USB port in the center console talks to my iPhone, so no need for the AUX port, unless I decide to add an HD Radio. Analog clock for that old school touch of class.

Clarence thumps on the 10 speaker system 🙂


Motorvating all 5,500 pounds of body on frame luxo truck is a 6.2 liter L94 Vortec V8 – no high tech turbos or superchargers, but it does have variable valve timing and Active Fuel Management. AFM is GM’s name for displacement on demand, shutting off 4 of the 8 cylinders under light load to save on gas. It works much better than the 1981 V-4-6-8 disaster, with seamless transitions between V4 and V8 mode. There is no 6 cyl mode, as it would have an uneven firing pattern resulting in undesirable NVH. Power flows to all four wheels via a full time all wheel drive system with a 40/60 (front/rear) split, and a buttery smooth 6L80 heavy duty transmission. Towing capacity is 8,100 lbs – the reason my stepdad bought it in the first place, as he needed something to tow his boat.

A six liter V8 with variable displacement? Suddenly it’s 1981!


We don’t own anything to tow, but the 408 HP and 417 ft/lb of torque will pin you back if you smash the skinny pedal. Official 0-60 times of 6.9 are better than average, but you pay for it at the pump – EPA estimates of 13 city, 18 highway and 15 combined on Premium Unleaded (or E85 if you like) mean that anytime you go to pass it’s a financial decision as much as one of oncoming traffic. A 26 gallon tank is great for road trips, but gets pricey to fill up if you let it go below a quarter tank.

Sometimes less is more – I like the simple look of the gauges.


Rear seat room is plentiful in the captain’s chairs, but the 3rd row is not for long legged beasties. And with the 3rd row seats up, cargo capacity is a few bags of groceries at best. With both rows of seats folded, cargo capacity is 108.9 cubic feet – the ESV model bumps that up to 137.4 with the seats down. I usually have the 3rd row folded up when traveling, but it does come in handy to be able to haul 5 other people in a pinch.

Comfy captains chairs, and headphones for the DVD players.


A few days after taking ownership, I took the ‘slade on a work trip out to Lebanon PA, and the open road is the natural habitat for this vehicle. Handling? The magnetic ride control keeps it from wallowing in the turns, but it is no canyon carver. The steering is tight and has some road feel, but with the Bose 10 speaker system cranked, the seat heater on low, and my Wawa beverage of choice being kept warm in the cupholder… do I really care about handling?

Rear HVAC, seat heater, and media controls.


The four wheel vented disc brakes work well enough, but simple laws of physics mean that I make sure to leave extra space in front of me as I would rather not have to slam on the brakes unless I have to. Stereotypes dictate that the Escalade is a pavement princess, but it did fine climbing the gravel road to a remote transmitter site in Central PA.

14 way power seats for the passenger as well.


Because of a scheduling issue at work, I had to turn around right after my Lebanon PA trip and head to Cape Cod MA – 12 hours on the road from Pittsburgh to the Cape in total with stops and it was like nothing.

This Escalade is the best road trip vehicle I have ever experienced outside of the 1994 Fleetwood Brougham. Miles are simply effortless, and the 16 MPG I got was slightly better than expected


Riding on 22’s – not looking forward to replacing these.


Only the hell that is 95 in CT caused discomfort, but a quick adjustment of the 14 way power seat lumbar soothed me over.



The Escalade is one of the few cars that I dreamed of owning as a teenager – Cadillac finally had a vehicle that lived up to this 1985 Eldorado commercial.

It wasn’t its near ubiquitous use in hip hop videos that grabbed me…there was a unique fictional owner from North Caldwell NJ that gave the Escalade a certain aura. OnStar removed of course.

This Escalade chases Town Cars for a living!


While it may not look as distinctive as a RWD Brougham or deVille from the 80’s, these vehicles truly embody the virtues of effortless driving, comfort, space, power and luxury that have people coveting the old Brougham/Fleetwood Broughams (at least the ones with SBC power, or the 1977-1980 models with the last big block Caddy V8). Critics love to point out the Escalades more plebian roots, hard points, and hardware shared with the Tahoe/Yukon. Criticism that has been laid on Cadillac since the 70’s to varying degrees – but Cadillac has gotten better with distinguishing the Escalade with each generation. Just as people liked to say a Brougham was a tarted up Caprice Classic back in the day – or that the Escalade isn’t a “real Cadillac.”

“It’s the wood that makes it good” -Kenny Rogers Roasters.


It’s big. It’s chromed. It’s got the Wreath & Crest placed all over to remind you that yes, it is a Cadillac. If that isn’t Caddy, what is?