2020 Cadillac Escalade vs. 2020 Subaru Ascent

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Escalade Premium Luxury/Platinum’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Ascent doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the front shoulder belts of the Cadillac Escalade are height-adjustable, and the middle and rear seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Subaru Ascent doesn’t offer comfort guides on its middle seat belts.

Both the Escalade and Ascent 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 Ascent’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 Ascent 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 Ascent doesn’t offer front seat center airbags.

The Escalade has a standard Surround Vision to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Ascent only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

Both the Escalade and the Ascent 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, available all wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems and blind spot warning systems.

The Cadillac Escalade weighs 975 to 1426 pounds more than the Subaru Ascent. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

The Escalade comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Ascent’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Cadillac’s powertrain warranty covers the Escalade 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Subaru covers the Ascent. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Ascent ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The Escalade’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Ascent’s (6 vs. 5 years).

There are over 43 percent more Cadillac dealers than there are Subaru dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Escalade’s warranty.

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Escalade has a standard 660-amp battery. The Ascent’s 530-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Escalade first among large premium suvs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Ascent 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 Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Cadillac 17th in initial quality. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th.

Engine

The Escalade’s 6.2 V8 produces 160 more horsepower (420 vs. 260) and 183 lbs.-ft. more torque (460 vs. 277) than the Ascent’s 2.4 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Cadillac Escalade is faster than the Subaru Ascent:

Escalade

Ascent

Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

7.5 sec

Quarter Mile

14.4 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

96.8 MPH

88.6 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 Ascent doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

The Escalade has 6.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the Ascent (26 vs. 19.3 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 Ascent doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Escalade has larger standard tires than the Ascent (275/55R20 vs. 245/60R18). The Escalade’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Ascent (285/45R22 vs. 245/60R18).

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 Ascent’s standard 60 series tires. The Escalade’s optional tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Ascent Limited/Touring’s 50 series tires.

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

The Cadillac Escalade’s wheels have 6 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Subaru Ascent 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 Ascent 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 Ascent, it requires you to depend on a temporary spare, which limits mileage and speed before replacement.

Suspension and Handling

The Escalade has a standard driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Ascent’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

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

The Escalade has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Ascent doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Escalade’s wheelbase is 2.2 inches longer than on the Ascent (116 inches vs. 113.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Escalade is 4.3 inches wider in the front and 4.5 inches wider in the rear than on the Ascent.

The Escalade’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51% to 49%) than the Ascent’s (54.2% to 45.8%). This gives the Escalade more stable handling and braking.

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 Ascent 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 Ascent 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 Ascent Touring (38 vs. 40 dB).

Passenger Space

The Escalade has 1.5 inches more front headroom, 3.1 inches more front legroom, 3.2 inches more front hip room, 3.8 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear legroom, 2.7 inches more rear hip room, 4.1 inches more rear shoulder room, 1.8 inches more third row headroom, 3.4 inches more third row hip room and 5.4 inches more third row shoulder room than the Ascent.

Cargo Capacity

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

Escalade

Ascent

Third Seat Folded

51.6 cubic feet

47.5 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

94.2 cubic feet

86.5 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 Ascent doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

The Escalade’s rear cargo window opens separately from the rest of the liftgate door to allow quicker loading of small packages. The Ascent’s rear cargo window doesn’t open.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Escalade’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Ascent doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

The Escalade’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the Ascent’s (8100 vs. 2000 pounds).

Servicing Ease

The Escalade uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Ascent uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Cadillac service is better than Subaru. J.D. Power ranks Cadillac third in service department satisfaction. With a 51% lower rating, Subaru is ranked 19th.

Ergonomics

The Escalade’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Ascent doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

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 Ascent does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The Escalade Luxury/Premium Luxury/Platinum has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Ascent doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the Escalade and the Ascent have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Escalade is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Ascent prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

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 Ascent’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully.

On a hot day the Escalade’s driver can lower all the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Ascent can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Escalade’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Ascent’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Escalade’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Subaru only offers heated mirrors on the Ascent Premium/Limited/Touring.

When the Escalade is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Ascent’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Escalade has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Ascent offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

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 is only available on the Ascent Limited/Touring.

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 Ascent doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The Escalade’s Automatic Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Ascent doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Escalade is less expensive to operate than the Ascent because typical repairs cost much less on the Escalade than the Ascent, including $57 less for a water pump and $258 less for a starter.

Recommendations

The Cadillac Escalade/Escalade ESV outsold the Subaru Ascent by 661 units during 2018.

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

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