2020 Cadillac Escalade vs. 2019 BMW X5

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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For enhanced safety, the front, middle and rear (child comfort guides) seat shoulder belts of the Cadillac Escalade are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW X5 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

Both the Escalade and X5 have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Escalade has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The X5’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Escalade are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The X5 doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Escalade has a standard front seat center airbag, which deploys between the driver and front passenger, protecting them from injuries caused by striking each other in serious side impacts. The X5 doesn’t offer front seat center airbags.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Escalade Premium Luxury/Platinum has standard Reverse Automatic Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The X5 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Both the Escalade and the X5 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, available all wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems and blind spot warning systems.

The Cadillac Escalade weighs 408 to 1043 pounds more than the BMW X5. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

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Cadillac’s powertrain warranty covers the Escalade 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than BMW covers the X5. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the X5 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are almost 3 times as many Cadillac dealers as there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Escalade’s warranty.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates rated the Escalade first among large premium suvs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The X5 isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Cadillac vehicles are better in initial quality than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Cadillac 17th in initial quality. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 20th.

Engine

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The Escalade’s 6.2 V8 produces 85 more horsepower (420 vs. 335) and 130 lbs.-ft. more torque (460 vs. 330) than the X5 xDrive40i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

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An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Escalade’s fuel efficiency. The X5 doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Cadillac Escalade uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The X5 requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Escalade has 4.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the X5 (26 vs. 21.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

The Escalade has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The X5 doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

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A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Cadillac Escalade, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the X5.

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Escalade has larger standard tires than the X5 (275/55R20 vs. 265/50R19). The Escalade’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the X5 (285/45R22 vs. 275/40R21).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Escalade has standard 20-inch wheels. Smaller 19-inch wheels are standard on the X5.

The Cadillac Escalade’s wheels have 6 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The BMW X5 only has 5 wheel lugs per wheel.

The Escalade has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The X5 doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

The Escalade has a standard full size spare tire so a flat doesn’t interrupt your trip. A full size spare isn’t available on the X5, it requires you to depend on a temporary spare or run-flat tires, either of which has mileage and speed limitations.

Suspension and Handling

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The Escalade has a standard automatic rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The X5 doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Escalade is 2.6 inches wider in the front and 1.8 inches wider in the rear than on the X5.

For better maneuverability, the Escalade’s turning circle is 2.4 feet tighter than the X5’s (39 feet vs. 41.4 feet).

Chassis

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The Escalade uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The X5 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the Escalade 4WD is quieter than the X5 xDrive40i (38 vs. 39 dB).

Passenger Space

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The Escalade offers optional seating for 8 passengers; the X5 can only carry up to 7.

The Escalade has 2 inches more front headroom, 5.5 inches more front legroom, 4.9 inches more front shoulder room, 1.6 inches more rear legroom and 6.3 inches more rear shoulder room than the X5.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Escalade’s middle row seats recline. The X5’s middle row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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The Escalade’s cargo area provides more volume than the X5.

Escalade

X5

Third Seat Folded

51.6 cubic feet

n/a

Third Seat Removed

n/a

33.9 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

94.2 cubic feet

72.3 cubic feet

The Escalade’s cargo area is larger than the X5’s in every dimension:

Escalade

X5

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

11.1”/43.2”/79.9”

n.a./40.7”/70”

Min Width

49.3”

44”

Height

33.9”

31.5”

The Escalade’s liftgate lifts up in one piece, completely out of the way of loading and unloading, while sheltering the cargo loading area. The X5’s tailgate’s top part raises up, but the bottom part lowers, getting in the way of loading and making an uneven surface for sliding cargo.

Payload and Towing

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The Escalade’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the X5’s (8100 vs. 6603 pounds).

The Escalade has a much higher standard payload capacity than the X5 (1420 vs. 849 lbs.).

The Escalade has a much higher maximum payload capacity than the X5 (1460 vs. 871 lbs.).

Servicing Ease

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J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Cadillac service is better than BMW. J.D. Power ranks Cadillac third in service department satisfaction. With a 33% lower rating, BMW is ranked 11th.

Ergonomics

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The Escalade’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The X5 does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The Escalade has a standard heated steering wheel to take the chill out of steering on extremely cold winter days before the vehicle heater warms up. A heated steering wheel costs extra on the X5.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Cadillac Escalade has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. Wireless charging costs extra on the X5.

The Escalade has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The X5 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Model Availability

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The Escalade is available in both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The X5 doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the Escalade owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Escalade will cost $1310 to $2795 less than the X5 over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Escalade is less expensive to operate than the X5 because typical repairs cost much less on the Escalade than the X5, including $358 less for a water pump, $912 less for a muffler, $94 less for front brake pads, $391 less for a starter, $175 less for fuel injection, $34 less for a fuel pump, $842 less for a timing belt/chain and $645 less for a power steering pump.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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