The new Cadillac Escalade IQ doesn’t look like an Escalade, and while you can argue that that’s not a great thing given that Escalade is Cadillac’s strongest brand by far (arguably stronger than Cadillac itself) and that this brand was built largely on that squared-off body and upright grille, I understand why the new EV looks different. Plus, the 40 speakers, gorgeous interior, and 450 miles of expected ranges tell me this will be a wonderful machine to drive. But forget about all that: I’d like to focus on something much more mundane — the tire size. Because it is absurd.
We all have to realize that electric cars are bringing upon the death of low ride-height and the proliferation of huge wheels and tires. Just look at the Volkswagen ID.3 electric hatchback. Its 215 55R18 tires are 2.2 inches larger in diameter than those of the car’s gasoline equivalent, the VW Golf (225 40R18). Check out the Hyundai Ioniq 6 sedan, and compare it with its gasoline equivalent, and you’ll see that the EV’s 225 55R18 tires are 1.5 inches larger in diameter than the Sonata’s 235 45R18s.
Skinnier and taller — that tends to be the trend with EV tires. It all makes sense; reducing the width reduces rolling resistance and frontal area, and the extra diameter is, at least in part, needed to make up (aesthetically) for the added girth between the rocker panel and the floor (girth added by the battery pack).
So it’s no surprise that the new Cadillac Escalade — a very-much on-road SUV with very, very few real off-road credentials — comes equipped with large-diameter rubber. But I was not expecting 35s. THIRTY FIVES!
The outgoing Escalade’s 275/50R22 tires weren’t small, at 33 inches, but ask any Jeeper, and they’ll tell you that going from 33s to 35s is like experiencing Jesus for the first time. It’s a life-altering game-changer in the off-road world (so long as it comes with a locking differential or two). I’m so amazed that the new Cadillac’s factory tires are 35s (275 50R24) that I felt it necessary to put it into a bit of context. Here’s new the Escalade IQ
And here are Jeeps with the same diameter tires:
Here’s a preproduction Ford Bronco with a Sasquatch Package that adds 35-inch tires:
35s used to be big-dog off-road tires. Now they’re Cadillac Escalade street-tires that, really, don’t look all that big:
Obviously, vehicles have become much larger since most of the aforementioned off-road vehicles were built, obviously all of the tires I showed were wider and have much larger sidewalls than the Cadillac’s, and obviously there are some old vehicles with much bigger tires than 35s, like the Hummer H1, which rocked 37s even in the 1990s. But that’s an H1 — an off-road menace — not an on-road luxury SUV.
This isn’t a criticism of the new Cadillac Escalade IQ, it’s just an expression of my realization: Wow, the car-world is changing. Quickly.