2020 Cadillac Escalade vs. 2019 Volvo XC90

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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 XC90 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 XC90 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 XC90 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Both the Escalade and the XC90 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, 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 510 to 1118 pounds more than the Volvo XC90. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH, results indicate that the Cadillac Escalade is safer than the Volvo XC90:

Escalade

XC90

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

23

51

Chest Movement

.7 inches

.7 inches

Abdominal Force

107 G’s

153 G’s

Hip Force

214 lbs.

255 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

26 G’s

40 G’s

Hip Force

208 lbs.

608 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

Cadillac’s powertrain warranty covers the Escalade 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than Volvo covers the XC90. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the XC90 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

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

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Escalade first among large premium suvs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The XC90 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 Volvo vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Cadillac 17th in initial quality. With 14 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volvo is ranked 28th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Cadillac vehicles are more reliable than Volvo vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Cadillac 23rd in reliability. With 38 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volvo is ranked 29th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Cadillac vehicles are more reliable than Volvo vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Cadillac 1 place higher in reliability than Volvo.

Engine

The Escalade’s 6.2 V8 produces 170 more horsepower (420 vs. 250) and 202 lbs.-ft. more torque (460 vs. 258) than the XC90 T5’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The Escalade’s 6.2 V8 produces 104 more horsepower (420 vs. 316) and 165 lbs.-ft. more torque (460 vs. 295) than the XC90 T6’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. The Escalade’s 6.2 V8 produces 20 more horsepower (420 vs. 400) than the XC90 T8’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid.

As tested in Motor Trend the Cadillac Escalade is faster than the XC90 T6 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.:

Escalade

XC90

Zero to 30 MPH

1.9 sec

2.3 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

6.7 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

9.8 sec

11.2 sec

Passing 45 to 65 MPH

3.2 sec

3.5 sec

Quarter Mile

14.4 sec

15.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

96.8 MPH

90.4 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Escalade’s fuel efficiency. The XC90 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 XC90 T5 requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Escalade has 7.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the XC90 Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (26 vs. 18.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Escalade has 7.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the XC90’s standard fuel tank (26 vs. 18.8 gallons).

Transmission

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 XC90.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Escalade has larger standard tires than the XC90 (275/55R20 vs. 235/55R19). The Escalade’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the XC90 (285/45R22 vs. 275/45R20).

The Escalade’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the XC90 T5’s standard 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Escalade has standard 20-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the XC90 T5. The Escalade’s optional 22-inch wheels are larger than the 21-inch wheels optional on the XC90.

The Cadillac Escalade’s wheels have 6 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Volvo XC90 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 XC90 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 XC90, it requires you to depend on a temporary spare, which has mileage and speed limitations, or roadside assistance and a tow-truck.

Suspension and Handling

The front and rear suspension of the Escalade uses coil springs for better ride, handling and control than the XC90, which uses transverse leafs springs in the rear. Coil springs compress more progressively and offer more suspension travel for a smoother ride with less bottoming out.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Escalade is 2.9 inches wider in the front and 3 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the XC90.

Chassis

The front grille of the Escalade uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The XC90 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Escalade uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The XC90 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Escalade 4WD is quieter than the XC90 T6 AWD:

Escalade

XC90

At idle

38 dB

48 dB

Passenger Space

The Escalade offers optional seating for 8 passengers; the XC90 can only carry 7.

The Escalade has 3.9 inches more front headroom, 4.4 inches more front legroom, 4.9 inches more front hip room, 7.2 inches more front shoulder room, .2 inches more rear headroom, 2 inches more rear legroom, 3.7 inches more rear hip room, 7.9 inches more rear shoulder room, 1.8 inches more third row headroom, 4.4 inches more third row hip room and 15.7 inches more third row shoulder room than the XC90.

Cargo Capacity

The Escalade’s cargo area provides more volume than the XC90.

Escalade

XC90

Third Seat Folded

51.6 cubic feet

41.8 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

94.2 cubic feet

85.7 cubic feet

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Escalade’s optional second and third row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The XC90 doesn’t offer automatic folding second row seats.

Payload and Towing

The Escalade’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the XC90’s (8100 vs. 4000 pounds).

The Escalade has a much higher standard payload capacity than the XC90 (1420 vs. 1210 lbs.).

The Escalade has a much higher maximum payload capacity than the XC90 (1460 vs. 1210 lbs.).

Servicing Ease

The engine in the Escalade is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the XC90. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the Escalade to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes based on actual driving conditions. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Volvo doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the XC90.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Cadillac service is better than Volvo. J.D. Power ranks Cadillac third in service department satisfaction. With a 40% lower rating, Volvo is ranked 14th.

Ergonomics

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 XC90 does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The Escalade’s front and rear power windows all lower with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The XC90’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully.

The Escalade has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The XC90 doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Escalade has standard extendable sun visors. The XC90 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

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 XC90.

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. The XC90 doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Escalade owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Escalade with a number “5” insurance rate while the XC90 is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Escalade is less expensive to operate than the XC90 because typical repairs cost much less on the Escalade than the XC90, including $582 less for a water pump, $25 less for front brake pads, $318 less for a starter, $56 less for fuel injection and $114 less for a fuel pump.

Recommendations

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Escalade third among large premium suvs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The XC90 isn’t in the top three.

The Cadillac Escalade/Escalade ESV outsold the Volvo XC90 by 17% during 2018.

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

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