2021 Volvo XC90 vs. 2020 Cadillac Escalade

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/22

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC90 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Cadillac Escalade doesn’t offer pretensioners for the middle seat belts.

The Volvo XC90 offers an optional built in child booster seat. It’s more crash worthy than an added child seat because of its direct attachment to the seat. Cadillac doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the Escalade. Their owners must carry a heavy booster seat in and out of the vehicle; XC90 owners can just fold their built-in child seat up or down.

Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the XC90 deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The XC90’s side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The Escalade’s airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.

The XC90 has a standard Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WHIPS allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The Escalade doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The XC90 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Escalade doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the XC90’s standard Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The Escalade doesn’t offer Hill Descent Control.

The XC90’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Escalade doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

For better protection of the passenger compartment, the XC90 uses safety cell construction with a three-dimensional high-strength frame that surrounds the passenger compartment. It provides extra impact protection and a sturdy mounting location for door hardware and side impact beams. The Escalade uses a body-on-frame design, which has no frame members above the floor of the vehicle.

Both the XC90 and the Escalade have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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 and available around view monitors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Volvo XC90 is safer than the Cadillac Escalade:

XC90

Escalade

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

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

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 and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Volvo XC90 is safer than the Cadillac Escalade:

XC90

Escalade

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

94

107

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

18 inches

HIC

209

355

Spine Acceleration

29 G’s

50 G’s

Hip Force

383 lbs.

893 lbs.

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

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, its “Good” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the XC90 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 132 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Escalade has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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The XC90’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the Escalade’s (12 vs. 6 years).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the XC90 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Cadillac only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the Escalade.

Reliability

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For smoother operation, better efficiency and fewer moving parts, the engines in the XC90 have an overhead cam design, rather than the old pushrod design of the engine in the Escalade.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the XC90 has a standard 210-amp alternator. The Escalade’s 170-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the XC90 has a standard 800-amp battery. The Escalade’s 660-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Volvo vehicles are more reliable than Cadillac vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Volvo 6 places higher in reliability than Cadillac.

Engine

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The XC90 Recharge’s standard 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder hybrid produces 12 lbs.-ft. more torque (472 vs. 460) than the Escalade’s 6.2 V8.

As tested in Car and Driver the XC90 Recharge is faster than the Cadillac Escalade:

XC90

Escalade

Zero to 60 MPH

5.3 sec

5.8 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.6 sec

14.8 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

5.8 sec

6.3 sec

Quarter Mile

14 sec

14.3 sec

Top Speed

132 MPH

112 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/22

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 Recharge running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the Escalade:

MPGe

XC90

AWD

Electric Motor

58 city/53 hwy

Escalade

MPG

RWD

6.2 OHV V8

14 city/23 hwy

AWD

6.2 OHV V8

14 city/21 hwy

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the Escalade:

MPG

XC90

FWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

AWD

T8 2.0 turbo/SC 4-cyl. Hybrid

26 city/28 hwy

T5 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/28 hwy

T6 2.0 turbo/SC 4-cyl.

19 city/28 hwy

Escalade

RWD

6.2 OHV V8

14 city/23 hwy

AWD

6.2 OHV V8

14 city/21 hwy

The XC90 Recharge can drive on battery power alone for up to 18 miles. The Escalade must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regenerative brakes improve the XC90 T8’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Escalade doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the XC90’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Escalade doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volvo XC90 higher (5 to 7 out of 10) than the Cadillac Escalade (3). This means the XC90 produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Escalade every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the XC90’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Escalade:

XC90 T5/T6

XC90 Recharge

Escalade

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

14.4 inches

13 inches

The XC90 stops much shorter than the Escalade:

XC90

Escalade

70 to 0 MPH

167 feet

202 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

133 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/22

The XC90’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Escalade’s optional 45 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

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For superior ride and handling, the Volvo XC90 has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Cadillac Escalade has a solid rear axle, with a non-independent rear suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the XC90’s wheelbase is 1.5 inches longer than on the Escalade (117.5 inches vs. 116 inches).

The XC90 T6 AWD handles at .84 G’s, while the Escalade 4WD pulls only .73 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The XC90 T6 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.3 seconds quicker than the Escalade 4WD (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 28.1 seconds @ .63 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the XC90 has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Escalade (8.3 vs. 8 inches), allowing the XC90 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The XC90 w/Air Suspension’s minimum ground clearance is 1.9 inches higher than on the Escalade (9.9 vs. 8 inches).

Chassis

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The Volvo XC90 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 750 to 1250 pounds less than the Cadillac Escalade.

The XC90 is 8.9 inches shorter than the Escalade, making the XC90 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Unibody construction lowers the XC90’s center of gravity significantly without reducing ground clearance. This contributes to better on the road handling and better off-road performance and stability. In addition, unibody construction makes the chassis stiffer, improving handling and reducing squeaks and rattles. The Escalade uses body-on-frame design instead.

As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the XC90 T6 AWD is quieter than the Escalade 4WD (71 vs. 75 dB).

Passenger Space

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The front step up height for the XC90 is 6.2 inches lower than the Escalade (15.8” vs. 22”).

Cargo Capacity

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A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the XC90 easier. The XC90’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 30.8 inches, while the Escalade’s liftover is 32.1 inches.

The XC90’s cargo area is larger than the Escalade’s in almost every dimension:

XC90

Escalade

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

21.8”/49.6”/80.3”

11.1”/43.2”/79.9”

Max Width

54.7”

n/a

Min Width

44.5”

49.3”

Height

35”

33.9”

The XC90 has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The Escalade doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the XC90. The Escalade doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Ergonomics

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/22

The XC90’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Escalade’s parking brake has to released manually.

If the windows are left open on the XC90 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Escalade can only close the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are optional on the XC90 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Escalade doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The XC90 has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Escalade doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The Escalade Premium Luxury/Platinum’s cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The XC90’s standard adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.

A manual rear sunshade and rear side window sunshades are optional in the XC90 to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Escalade doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/22

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Volvo XC90, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels. The Cadillac Escalade isn't recommended.

Motor Trend selected the XC90 as their 2016 Sport Utility of the Year. The Escalade has never been chosen.

The XC90 was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The Escalade has never been an “All Star.”

A group of representative automotive journalists from North America selected the XC90 as the 2016 North American Truck of the Year. The Escalade has never been chosen.

The Volvo XC90 outsold the Cadillac Escalade/Escalade ESV by 336 units during 2019.

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

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