General Motors is overhauling the Cadillac Escalade for 2021, as the nameplate celebrates its fifth generation. At first look, the newest Escalade looks to be the most impressive version yet in terms of luxury, style, and technology.
Borrowing elements from the Escala concept car from 2016, the new 2021 Escalade offers a stylish exterior and the option of two engines under the hood. There the familiar 6.2-liter V8 and a new turbo-diesel inline-six. Both of them are hooked up to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The technology in the new Escalade also gets a bump, with the dashboard serving as all-in-one gauge cluster and infotainment display. Here’s what you need to know about one of the most luxurious SUVs on the market today.
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Make no mistake, this is still a big, full-size SUV. However, the Escalade has been given a thorough redesign for 2021. It features a new independent rear suspension and a softer exterior style that emphasizes rounded corners and smooth lines.
The trademark massive grille remains in place. But the overall appearance of this Escalade is sleeker and less boxy than previous versions. This is an SUV that has been built for off-road adventures but still won’t look out of place at fancy valet parking spots. All-in-all, GM gets high marks for this exterior facelift.
Engine and Performance
As mentioned, the biggest of the Cadillac SUVs is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 engine that cranks out 420 horsepower. It can also deactivate half of its cylinders when cruising to save fuel. Alternately, the turbo-diesel 3.0-liter inline-six engine is also no slouch when it comes to power and drive. A 10-speed automatic transmission comes standard with either engine. Buyers will be able to choose from rear- or all-wheel-drive setups based on their individual needs.
As with other GM rigs such as the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon, the 2021 Escalade rides on an all-new platform with an independent rear suspension. It will provide a smoother, more comfortable ride. Higher-end trimlines offer air suspension with adaptive dampers that use computer-controlled shock absorbers for even greater comfort and refinement.
Trimlines and Prices
Speaking of trimlines, the 2021 Escalade comes in an option of five different trims that range in price from $80,000 for the base level Luxury trim to $100,000 for the top-of-the-line Platinum Sport edition. In between, there is the Premium Luxury model starting at $85,000, the Sport edition for $90,000, and the Platinum trimline for $95,000.
To truly deck out the Escalade, most reviewers seem to recommend the second-highest Platinum trim. While not inexpensive at $95,000, the Platinum edition adds semi-aniline leather, 16-way power-adjustable front seats with built-in massage, soft-close doors, and an AKG audio system that’s fitted with 36 speakers. The Platinum version also comes standard with a self-parking feature, a head-up display, and adaptive cruise control. As you can see, you get a lot by upgrading.
As the signature Cadillac vehicle, the Escalade’s interior is all about luxury and comfort. In the 2021 model, Cadillac has taken in-cabin luxury to a new level. Faux leather is used in the base Luxury trim, but all other trims boast authentic leather. The Platinum models also have a leather-covered dashboard and door panels, aluminum speaker grilles, and adjustable interior ambient lighting.
Also, Cadillac is offering the 2021 Escalade in a standard and long-wheelbase model. The latter provides more legroom for third row of seating, as well as additional cargo space. It all adds up to a truly luxurious ride.
Technology, Features, and Warranty Coverage
The 2021 Escalade has been fully upgraded in terms of electronics. The main feature is an all-new digital dashboard. It’s comprised of three curved LED displays that layer on top of one another to create a cool 38-inches of combined digital real estate. Some of it serves as the instrument cluster. The rest is the infotainment system for the driver and passenger. The collection of displays is reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz GLS-class’s giant monolithic infotainment setup. However, the Escalade’s stacked setup creates more depth.
Other impressive tech features include an augmented-reality navigation system and an available rear-seat entertainment package that includes two 12.6-inch displays with streaming capability. Additionally, Cadillac has partnered with Grammy-award winning audio and acoustics company AKG to develop the Escalade’s standard and optional sound systems. A 19-speaker studio sound system is standard on all versions of the Escalade, with an upgraded 36 speakers offered on the two highest trims.
In terms of safety features, Cadillac appears determined to make its flagship SUV a showcase for driver-assistance technology. It’s providing its “Super Cruise” semi-autonomous drive mode as an available feature, for starters. Other key safety features include standard automated emergency braking with front and rear pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, and available adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving mode.
As far as warranty is concerned, the new Escalade offers the same standard warranty package as on the previous 2020 model. Cadillac’s powertrain warranty stretches for longer than rivals such as the BMW X7. You can expect to get limited warranty coverage of four years or 50,000 miles, and a powertrain warranty coverage of six years or 70,000 miles.
The Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy estimates aren’t available for the 2021 Escalade yet. However, with the same 6.2-liter V8 engine as the 2020 model, we can anticipate the same 17 MPG combined city/highway rating. It’s not overall great, but still decent for an SUV of this size. Opting for a turbo-diesel engine could make a difference, but you don’t buy an Escalade for the fuel efficiency. This vehicle is about luxury, after all. Not conserving fuel.
- Impressive exterior redesign and styling.
- Amazing technology featured throughout the vehicle.
- Comfortable and roomy, with ample cargo space.
- Expensive at a starting price of $80,000.
- Not the most fuel-efficient SUV you can buy.
- The “complimentary scheduled maintenance” is only good for one visit.
The Last Word
With the 2021 Escalade, GM is upping the ante in terms of what it means to be a luxurious, full-size SUV. The newest Escalade improves in nearly every department – from the exterior styling to the interior technology and safety features. This is a truly impressive feat of engineering. Although not cheap, people in the market for a luxury ride should have no qualms about shelling out nearly $100,000 (or more) for this state-of-the-art Cadillac. The Escalade remains a best-in-class vehicle.