Cadillac Escalade: Automatic Transmission - Automatic Transmission - Driving and Operating - Cadillac Escalade Owner's ManualCadillac Escalade: Automatic Transmission

If the vehicle is a hybrid, see the hybrid supplement for more information.

The vehicle has a Hydra-Matic® 6L80 automatic transmission, and has an electronic shift position indicator within the instrument panel cluster. The electronic shift position indicator displays when the shift lever is moved out of P (Park).

There are several different positions for the shift lever.

P (Park): This position locks the rear wheels. It is the best position to use

P (Park): This position locks the rear wheels. It is the best position to use when you start the engine because the vehicle cannot move easily.

When parked on a hill, especially when the vehicle has a heavy load, you may notice an increase in the effort to shift out of P (Park). See “Torque Lock” under Shifting Into Park   for more information.


It is dangerous to get out of the vehicle if the shift lever is not fully in P (Park) with the parking brake firmly set. The vehicle can roll.

Do not leave the vehicle when the engine is running unless you have to. If you have left the engine running, the vehicle can move suddenly. You or others could be injured. To be sure the vehicle will not move, even when you are on fairly level ground, always set the parking brake and move the shift lever to P (Park). See Shifting Into Park  . If you are pulling a trailer, see Driving Characteristics and Towing Tips  .

R (Reverse): Use this gear to back up.

Notice: Shifting to R (Reverse) while the vehicle is moving forward could damage the transmission. The repairs would not be covered by the vehicle warranty. Shift to R (Reverse) only after the vehicle is stopped.

To rock the vehicle back and forth to get out of snow, ice, or sand without damaging the transmission, see If the Vehicle Is Stuck  .

N (Neutral): In this position, the engine does not connect with the wheels. To restart when you are already moving, use N (Neutral) only. Also, use N (Neutral) when the vehicle is being towed.


Shifting into a drive gear while the engine is running at high speed is dangerous. Unless your foot is firmly on the brake pedal, the vehicle could move very rapidly. You could lose control and hit people or objects. Do not shift into a drive gear while the engine is running at high speed.

Notice: Shifting out of P (Park) or N (Neutral) with the engine running at high speed may damage the transmission. The repairs would not be covered by the vehicle warranty. Be sure the engine is not running at high speed when shifting the vehicle.

D (Drive): This position is for normal driving. It provides the best fuel economy. If you need more power for passing, and you are:

  • Going less than about 55 km/h (35 mph), push the accelerator pedal about halfway down.
  • Going about 55 km/h (35 mph) or more, push the accelerator all the way down.

By doing this, the vehicle shifts down to the next gear and has more power.

D (Drive) can be used when towing a trailer, carrying a heavy load, driving on steep hills, or for off-road driving. You may want to shift the transmission to a lower gear selection if the transmission shifts too often.

Downshifting the transmission in slippery road conditions could result in skidding, see “Skidding” under Loss of Control  .

M(Manual Mode): This position lets drivers select the range of gears appropriate for current driving conditions. See “Driver Shift Control (DSC)” under Manual Mode  .

Notice: Spinning the tires or holding the vehicle in one place on a hill using only the accelerator pedal may damage the transmission. The repair will not be covered by the vehicle warranty. If you are stuck, do not spin the tires. When stopping on a hill, use the brakes to hold the vehicle in place.

The vehicle has a shift stabilization feature that adjusts the transmission shifting to the current driving conditions in order to reduce rapid upshifts and downshifts. This shift stabilization feature is designed to determine, before making an upshift, if the engine will be able to maintain vehicle speed by analyzing things such as vehicle speed, throttle position and vehicle load.

If the shift stabilization feature determines that a current vehicle speed cannot be maintained, the transmission does not upshift and instead holds the current gear. In some cases, this may appear to be a delayed shift, however the transmission is operating normally.

The vehicle's transmission uses adaptive shift controls that compares key shift parameters to pre-programmed ideal shifts stored in the transmissions computer. The transmission constantly makes adjustments to improve vehicle performance according to how the vehicle is being used, such as with a heavy load or when temperature changes. During this adaptive shift controls process, shifting may feel different as the transmission determines the best settings.

When temperatures are very cold, the Hydra-Matic® 6L80 automatic transmission's gear shifting may be delayed providing more stable shifts until the engine warms up. Shifts may be more noticeable with a cold transmission. This difference in shifting is normal.

    Manual Mode
    Driver Shift Control (DSC) The vehicle has Driver Shift Control (DSC). DSC controls the vehicle's transmission and vehicle speed while driving down hill or towing a trailer by allowing you to ...

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