- Gorgeous interior
- Super Cruise
- Independent suspension
- Lots of torque regardless of engine
- An adult-sized third row
- Gets expensive
- It’s massive
- The rear end barely changed
- Where’s the hybrid?
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade is much more than a Chevrolet Tahoe in a tuxedo.
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade is the luxury automaker’s full-size SUV and its most expensive people mover. Redesigned for 2021, the large, luxurious people mover features a larger third row, more cargo room, and the latest, greatest technology, including Super Cruise and up to five screens inside its cabin.
The 2021 Escalade is seven inches longer than the current model and will continue to be available in standard- or long-wheelbase configuration; the latter is still called the Escalade ESV, and it is 2.6 inches longer than the current model. Escalades are mechanically related to the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, as well as the 2021 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL.
Cadillac will offer the Escalade and Escalade ESV in Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, Platinum Sport, and Platinum Luxury trims. The price is expected to start near the current model, which is $76,500, then climb from there.
Styling and performance
The blunt front end, horizontal headlights, and vertical taillights that go from bumper to roof are borrowed from the smaller XT6 and outgoing Escalade. Sport models trade all the exterior chrome for shiny black plastic for a blacked-out look. Every 2021 Escalade rides on 22-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, the Escalade distances itself from its truck-based roots with a true luxury-car interior. The dashboard features 38-inches of curved OLED screen made up of a 7.2-inch touchscreen with vehicle information, a 14.2-inch digital gauge cluster, and a 16.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system, all stretched across the dash and wrapped in leather housing. Oddly, the small screen is on the left of the gauge cluster. There is a lot of screen on this dashboard. The infotainment system can also be controlled via a rotary knob and real buttons control the climate system. The column-mounted shifter has been ditched in favor of a center console-mounted electronic gear selector same as in the XT6 crossover SUV.
Escalade buyers will have two engines to choose from: A 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8 or a 277-hp 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-6. A 10-speed automatic transmission gets the rear wheels moving with either engine. Four-wheel drive with an electronic rear differential and low-range is available.
The new independent rear suspension that can be paired with adaptive dampers is a first for the Escalade. A four-corner air suspension system can raise or lower the Escalade by up to four inches, a first for the luxury SUV.
Comfort, safety, and features
The 2021 Escalade is larger than life and the outgoing model. Nearly seven inches longer overall with a 4-inch increase in the wheelbase on the standard model, the Escalade will challenge suburban garages. The largest dividends are in the third row with 10 inches more legroom than the outgoing model. Second-row riders also benefit thanks to sliding seats that should simplify getting in and out of the rear seats. Cargo capacity is 25.5 cubic feet, which represents a 68 percent improvement over the inexplicably cramped outgoing model. Fold down both rows and the Escalade will offer up 109.1 cubic feet of gear; the longer ESV model increases that to 126.6 cubic feet. The independent rear suspension also enables a flat load floor and fold-flat third-row seats. Every Escalade comes with two second-row captain’s chairs, but a no-cost second row bench option increases seating from six passengers to seven.
Every 2021 Escalade comes standard with forward collision warnings and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, front and rear parking sensors, surround-view camera system, and lane-keep assist. A parking assist system, lane departure warnings, blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alert along with lane-change alert and night vision systems are all available.
Cadillac hasn’t detailed every feature and option on the Escalade nor has it announced official pricing. Every Escalade will feature 22-inch alloy wheels, a 19-speaker AKG sound system, LED headlights and taillights, synthetic leather seats, heated steering wheel, heated first- and second-row seats, remote start and more. Available options will include a 2-inch by 4-inch heads-up display, massaging seats, a refrigerator and freezer, panoramic sunroof, air suspension, and night vision along with a hands-free driver assist system called Super Cruise.