Cadillac has chosen the Escalade to debut a ton of new technologically advanced features. When it comes to large SUVs, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade is the benchmark by which all others are judged. Sure, there are better off-roaders and performance SUVs on the market, but nothing says swagger quite like an Escalade.
The president of Cadillac, Steve Carlisle, had this to say about the all-new Escalade in a company press release. “There is something special about driving an Escalade. It has a bold presence and exclusive technology to elevate the extraordinary and make every drive feel like an occasion. The 2021 Escalade takes its leadership into a new era of mobility, with comprehensive upgrades that are transformative to the driving experience,” said Carlisle. ”It’s more than a new Escalade. It’s a new experience.”
Model Trims for the 2021 Escalade
Let’s take a moment to break down the five different trim levels. The base model is called Luxury and it comes handsomely equipped with a 19-speaker sound system, the new curved OLED touchscreen display, and 22-inch alloy wheels.
The next trim level is called Premium Luxury. It upgrades the 2021 Escalade with a panoramic sunroof and more advanced safety features. There are some stylistic changes with the Sport model. It comes with gloss black trim in the front fascia, a different grille design, roof rails, and dark alloy wheels.
The Premium Luxury Platinum model enters the $100,000 price range. It comes with full semi-aniline leather upholstery, leather trim, a rear-seat entertainment system, and a 36-speaker sound system. The Sport model gets an upgrade with the Sport Platinum model. It also crosses the 100k price threshold with the driver-assist package and just about everything else that comes with the Premium Luxury Platinum model.
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade has a bold exterior that starts with a tall, dominant front grille. It stands well over half a man’s height and comes in three different styles. There’s an illusion grille, a V series mesh grille design, and a grille design that features four longitudinal bars that travel across the width of the front fascia.
It’s also important to mention that there are two different body styles for the 2021 Escalade. The optional ESV body is much longer. The standard Escalade is 211.9 inches long, but the ESV stretches out to 226.9 inches.
On the whole, it’s still easily recognizable as an Escalade. 22-inch wheels come standard on the Escalade. The long, blocky design might seem dated, but it hides ultra-modern underpinnings. The front headlamps are slimmed down and have the Cadillac emblem etched into them. The LED taillights span 3 feet and also have subtle Cadillac emblem motifs. Whether you’re going for luxury or sport, there’s a new Cadillac that’s bound to resonate with you.
A Gluttonous Interior
The interior of the new Escalade features many of the stylistic cues that were first seen in the Escala concept vehicle. That’s where automotive enthusiasts got their first glimpse of the OLED curved display and new color palettes that are now available on the 2021 Escalade. There’s a ton of space inside and its filled with technology.
“The expectations and desires of Escalade customers are factors everyone in the Cadillac design studio unequivocally understands,” said Phil Kucera, interior design manager. “This allowed us to reach greater levels of depth and detail than Escalade has ever had before.”
The 2021 Escalade has an amazing dashboard display. The driver of the Escalade has a digital instrument cluster and two configurable display areas on either side of the speedometer. On the left-hand side, there’s a touchscreen control panel that toggles the heads-up display, night vision, and trip computer.
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade has the first-ever curved Organic Light Emitting Diode or OLED screen that measures 16.9 inches across. Its clarity is sharper than a 4K television display. In total, there are 38 inches of digital touchscreen real estate inside the cabin.
The upholstery and surfaces of the 2021 Escalade are sumptuous and refined. There are heated and ventilated seats in a variety of color palettes. The full semi-aniline leather is soft and undeniably a Cadillac staple. The panoramic sunroof allows occupants to enjoy the sky by sliding, tilting, and opening in a number of different ways.
The Escalade has plenty of room for passengers, but it also has a copious amount of cargo space. It comes with 121 cubic feet for cargo, but the Escalade ESV can accommodate up to 142.8 cubic feet of max cargo space. This SUV can make a long road trip feel less like a chore and more like a real vacation.
High Tech Capabilities of Cadillac
Tesla might get all the hype when it comes to autonomous driving vehicles, but Cadillac’s Super Cruise is one of the best rated autonomous driving systems on the market. In a test of 17 self-driving systems, Consumer Reports gave the highest overall score to the Cadillac Super Cruise. It beat out Audi Pre Sense and Tesla Auto Pilot.
The Super Cruise function uses onboard sensors, radar, and cameras to facilitate hands-free driving. It only works in certain conditions on the highway, but it’s more reliable than other autonomous driving systems. Super Cruise can change lanes, handle on and off ramps, as well as keep moving with the flow of traffic, all without any driver input.
Related: Are Tesla Vehicles Really Safe?
The navigation system uses augmented reality. It has automatic driving cues that come through the audio system and a virtual overlay that takes over the digital instrument cluster. The navigation system creates a massive live street view with driving directions overlaid on the road.
The available AKG Studio Reference System puts speakers everywhere inside the new Escalade. There are speakers in the center console, in the ceiling, and in the headrest. 36 speakers in total provide a studio sound quality that is unmatched on any other luxury vehicle. The advanced AKG system employs six subwoofers and three amplifiers.
Other tech amenities include night vision mode, a full color heads-up display, interior microphones that pump your voice through the cabin, and the largest rear seat headrest screens in this vehicle’s class. Without a doubt, this is the most technologically advanced Cadillac Escalade ever built.
Performance Features of the 2021 Escalade
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade has a 6.2 Liter V8 engine. It’s capable of achieving 420 horsepower and 460-pound feet of torque. There’s also an available 3.0 Liter Duramax turbo diesel engine. It’s pushing 277 horsepower and 460 lb. ft. of torque.
You can choose between two-wheel and four-wheel drive, and both are mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox is electronically controlled. It has an overdrive, a towing and hauling setting and easy tap controls to change gear shifting.
The adaptive air ride suspension is only available on the Premium Luxury and above models, but it’s arguably essential equipment on a vehicle this size. It has electronically controlled air springs that help stabilize the Escalade for off-roading and highway driving.
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade isn’t just designed to rack up style points. It has a maximum towing capacity of 8,200 pounds on 2WD models. The Duramax turbo-diesel helps the 2021 Escalade manage an 8,000 lb. max trailering load. A trailering package and mechanical limited-slip rear differential are also standard features.
The Sport models come with an electronic limited-slip differential and magnetic ride control. The Autotrac 2-speed transfer case is on the options list if you’re thinking about off-roading in this behemoth. The Sport models come with hitch guidance, an in-vehicle trailering app, and an integrated trailer brake controller. For adventure seekers, the Sport models are really the best option.
Final Thoughts on the 2021 Cadillac Escalade
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade begs potential buyers for six-figure investments. Sure, the 2WD Luxury base model Escalade has an MSRP of $77,890 but the Sport 4WD model comes with magnetic dampeners, better-trailering capabilities, and dark polished 22-inch wheels. It costs in the neighborhood of $90,000 but top-of-the-line Escalades can easily top $100,000.
Drivers might expect the Escalade to have a gorgeous interior, but what might come as surprise is all the amazing technology that comes with it. The 36-speaker sound system, the curved OLED display, and the augmented reality navigation are next-level features. Plus, the Cadillac Super Cruise is one of the most reliable autonomous driving systems on the market.
There are three rows of seating and there isn’t a bad spot in the bunch. Even if you don’t have a big family, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade makes the case for opulence. Who cares if you’re riding solo? You can fill in all the passenger space later.