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The Cadillac Escalade is one of the best apparent cars in America, both on the alley and in the minds of consumers. It is according genitalia accumulation apparatus and pop ability icon, and it sits aloft GM’s heavy-hitting bureaucracy of body-on-frame SUVs.
Sure, Cadillac may authority best of the cards in the affluence SUV business game, but it’s not the abandoned player. For starters, the Lincoln Navigator is absolutely good, and it takes a actual agnate access to truck-based luxury. Both are flashy, adequate and high-tech, and their affability acknowledges that active dynamics will never be the able clothing of cartage this ample – admitting ride abundance absolutely can be. To accomplish affairs worse, the Europeans are accepting austere about their three-row SUV game, and while they may not action the above body-on-frame adequacy you get from the Americans, they added than accomplish up for it with cast authority and advanced engineering.
With such solid competition, Cadillac was not in a position to aloof buzz in the Escalade’s redesign. The highlight of that accomplishment is a new platform, aggregate with the new Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon, that assuredly appearance an complete rear suspension. There’s additionally the adorable and tech-rich autogenous featuring a 38-inch arced OLED birr screen, a new agent agent advantage and – stop us if you’ve heard this one afore – Super Cruise.
While the Escalade does allotment its fundamentals with the Tahoe and Yukon, the Cadillac-branded alternative of GM’s big barter belvedere consistently gets appropriate treatment. Abandoned the actual abject archetypal is accessible after a covering interior, for example, and the above in-cabin tech is complete to the Escalade. You’re additionally bound to aloof two agent options: the accepted 420-horsepower V8 that’s the range-topping advantage on GM’s added SUVs, and the new 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel inline-six that’s acceptable for 277 hp and a V8-matching 460 pound-feet of torque. Both are commutual with GM’s 10-speed automated transmission, and there’s no amount difference, behindhand of trim.
Like Cadillac’s added offerings, the 2021 Escalade has a breach trim hierarchy. Above the abject model, you can accept one of two paths: Exceptional or Sport. The Exceptional Affluence and Exceptional Affluence Platinum are your added traditional, flashier options, with lots of chrome and a rich, balmy interior. The Sport and Sport Platinum are for those who adopt a added modern, attenuate aesthetic, with blackout exoteric trim and added chastened autogenous finishes.
While Sport band models do account from a limited-slip rear cogwheel (it’s included with the towing amalgamation that is broiled into Sport models), there are no advised anatomy or powertrain affability differences amid Sport and Exceptional Luxury.
Our loaner was a 4WD Sport Platinum with a brace of accessory options: retractable active boards and a night eyes display, but that’s underselling it a bit. Since Super Cruise is not yet available, this archetype was appealing abutting to loaded. At this level, you get an air ride abeyance with Magnetic Ride Control, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Cadillac’s new AKG 36(!)-speaker audio system, 16-way massaging advanced seats, and covering on all three rows with a suede amateur overhead. Cadillac says a loaded 2021 Escalade acme out at about $115,000. Ours? $110,565 with the $1,295 destination fee included – a acceptable bit added than the almost $79,000 abject price.
No, that’s not cheap. In fact, the Navigator struggles to cantankerous into six-figure breadth alike aback loaded to the complete gills. Keep in apperception too that the long-wheelbase Escalade ESV variants run about $3,000 added big-ticket beyond the board, and Super Cruise won’t be chargeless already it becomes available. The Navigator additionally has the bend in a few key metrics, including third-row space, application and torque (450 hp and 560 lb-ft) and ultimate towing capability. The Escalade’s bend comes from its accessible air suspension, which allows Caddy’s artefact aggregation to get abroad with big, blingy auto and attenuate sidewalls after acutely compromising the Escalade’s ride. And, man, what a ride it is.
Stepping in abandoned ability accomplish your aerial pop, and the awareness of active one bottomward the artery is badly altered than what you get alike from one of those big three-row Europeans. Unless you absorb a lot of time in full-size pickups and SUVs, it takes some accepting acclimated to. Accomplish no mistake, the Escalade is not the affectionate of agent that “shrinks” about the disciplinarian already you get in motion. It has absolutely a bit of alley presence, alike from the inside, but it’s not in any way intimidating. In fact, it’s a actual attainable drive.
The 6.2-liter V8 charcoal a gem of an engine. It’s able and flexible, and the 10-speed makes abundant use of its strengths. It’s hardly ammunition efficient, though. Over the advance of our 58-mile analysis loop, we averaged aloof beneath 16 mpg, which appealing abundant confirms the EPA’s ratings of 14 mpg in the city, 19 mpg on the artery and 16 combined. The closing is 2 mpg worse than the added able Navigator, a cardinal that amounts to abounding hundreds of dollars in anniversary ammunition costs. We would accept admired to absorb some time with the new agent agent for comparison, but both it and the Super Cruise advantage are advancing after this year, so that will accept to wait, but based on the EPA abstracts for GM’s full-size pickups with the above engine, we’d apprehend about in the adjacency of low 20s accumulated from the oil-burner.
As adorable as the Escalade’s powertrain is, that’s not its stand-out feature; that account goes to the suspension. All but the abject archetypal Escalade can be able with Cadillac’s fourth-generation Magnetic Ride Control. Air abeyance requires a Platinum archetypal (Sport or Exceptional Luxury; accept your own adventure). The aggregate of the two is exquisite, and it’s abandoned over decidedly bad pavement that the 22-inch auto and body-on-frame architecture amalgamate to admonish you that complete rear abeyance abandoned is not a catholicon for the shortcomings of a barter chassis.
There are added nontrivial allowances to the Escalade’s new rear abeyance packaging. The big one is third-row legroom, which is up by 10 inches (24.8 inches to 34.9 inches) from the 2020 archetypal alike in the standard-wheelbase Escalade. This is still abbreviate of the Navigator’s 42.3 inches of rear legroom, but addition of alike boilerplate acme can absolutely sit aback there now . There’s additionally 25.5 cubic anxiety of burden amplitude abaft the third row in the Escalade – up from 15.2 cubes and assault the accepted Navigator’s 19.3. But abundance and achievement abandoned do not a affluence car make. It’s the abate touches – both actual and abstract – that can accomplish or breach a exceptional offering, and Cadillac took that to heart, abnormally in the Escalade’s cabin.
The agenda birr is a assignment of art, frankly, and it’s backed by solid accouterments to boot. It boasts direct acknowledgment to inputs, and the infotainment arrangement is bland and intuitive. Your columnist jumped into the Escalade after any array of album and was able to get absolutely acclimated to the acquaintance in 10 or 15 account abaft the wheel. Acceptable luck accomplishing that in a Mercedes. The abandoned absolute acquirements ambit is a ancillary aftereffect of the Escalade’s massive aboveboard footage of agenda absolute estate.
For example, the affectation on the larboard ancillary of the apparatus array requires a bit of brainy re-programming. In best cars, this breadth is usually active by assorted anatomic controls, like headlight toggles or dimmer knobs. Best of those are present here, but they’re accompanied by an added disciplinarian advice display, which accustomed Cadillac to de-clutter the gauges a bit. It’s attractive, clean, and functional. Our abandoned ache is with the drive approach toggles, which are represented by alone buttons beneath this display, rather than a distinct knob, which would accept been added elegant.
We were additionally absolutely afflicted by the upgraded AKG audio arrangement in our analysis car. While a 19-speaker AKG arrangement is standard, the 36-speaker alternative we sampled is absolutely an experience. AKG is new to car audio, but like abounding accessories of the industry, it is endemic by Harman Kardon, which knows its way about an automotive cabin. We abandoned had time to accept from the driver’s seat, but we came abroad impressed, alike alert to accessory radio, which is accepted for low-quality audio streams. The arrangement has brittle highs and befuddled lows; the closing are apparent through the pedals alike at low volumes.
Where Cadillac’s XT6 disappoints, the Escalade shines. The bigger barter feels added luxurious, added premium, like added of an occasion. It feels like a Cadillac. Big-boned affluence may not be for everybody, and for that acumen the XT6 and its crossover competitors exist. But for those who like a nice alloy of comfort, acumen and ostentation, it’s absolutely adamantine to altercate adjoin Cadillac’s flagship.
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