The New 2021 Cadillac Escalade Abounds with Executive-Style Excess
Super Cruise and a curved OLED screen come online in Cadillac's iconic SUV.
Not to be shown up by its more pedestrian Chevrolet and GMC counterparts, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade moves into its next generation with a healthy dose of fresh technology and modern luxury. It's no longer a large-scale exercise in badge engineering; instead, exclusives like a curved OLED screen in the dash, augmented reality navigation, and the company's Super Cruise hands-free highway driving system come tucked inside a slab-sided design that only shares a roofline with the Suburban and Yukon.
Styling for the 2021 Escalade is more refined and subdued compared to gawdy models of the past. Its squared-off front puts a handsome face on the big truck, with an old-school emphasis on straight lines that gives off an executive feel better suited for moguls than SoundCloud rappers. The design language itself is finally in line with the rest of the Cadillac lineup, with thin, horizontal headlamps and the cascading running lights below. Moving backwards, the rest of the Escalade is no surprise: 22-inch wheels, big expanses of creased metal, and the same full-height taillights as before, though soft-close doors are a new touch.
Inside, the 2021 Escalade's dashboard is basically a giant screen—or three, rather. For the first time ever in a road car, there's a curved OLED system that spans 38 inches from end to end, composed of a 7.2-inch-diagonal digital touch control panel to the left of the driver, a 14.2-inch-diagonal cluster display behind the steering wheel, and a 16.9-inch-diagonal infotainment screen to the driver’s right. Collectively, these monitors are used to serve up new features like that AR-enabled navigation, a 360-degree camera, and a Night Vision screen that utilizes infrared technology to sense large objects and animals in the dark ahead while projecting them onto the Escalade's center screen.
The displays are also said to provide the truest blacks and largest color range of anything currently on the market. In all, they tout twice the pixel density of a 4K television. Cadillac will give you all the pixels, people. But more important than screens is that Cadillac is bringing its excellent Super Cruise system to its highest-volume seller, which is capable of automated highway driving on over 200,000 miles of pre-mapped American highways and now comes with a lane-change ability similar to Tesla's Autopilot. It's top-notch technology that remains the only true hands-free system on the market.
Rounding out the big tech upgrades is a new 36-speaker AKG sound system that will have a conversation booster feature, using in-cabin microphones to better project people's voices between rows. That'll come in handy, because this thing is enormous whether you get the extended-length ESV version or not.
Like with its platform mates, a total architecture redesign with independent rear suspension means there's also plenty of legroom and cargo capacity, even when it comes to the third row. The 2021 Escalade rocks 10 inches more of third-row legroom than the outgoing model, as well as a 68 percent increase in maximum cargo space behind the third row. In either regular or ESV form, it is officially the biggest GM SUV—its wheelbase (120.9 in/134.1 in) and overall length (211 in/226.9 in) are both longer than the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL.
General Motors' 6.2-liter V8 is standard, offering an impressive 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. If you're looking for grunt, then this is the option for you; however, if you want to stand out while driving further between fill-ups, then you might spring for the new 3.0-liter Duramax diesel inline-six. No EPA fuel economy estimates have been released, but there's got to be some benefit for them to go through the trouble of trying to sell you on a diesel Escalade. A V8-matching 460 pound-feet of torque doesn't hurt, though. Regardless of which engine you choose, a 10-speed automatic transmission and is standard on all variants of the next-gen Cadillac. Four-wheel drive with low range is optional, as is an air suspension system and Magnetic Ride Control dampers.
Pricing is yet to be announced for the 2021 Escalade, but we expect it to be a fair hike above the old model's $75,195 starting figure. When optioned to the high heavens like so many of them will be, don't be shocked to find a six-figure sticker price plastered on the window of a Cadillac SUV near you.
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