2021 Cadillac Escalade – First Look

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The 2021 Cadillac Escalade is all-new and ready to compete in the full-size luxury SUV category. Kelley Blue Book’s Lyn Woodward takes a first look at the new 2021 Escalade to review its revised interior, new exterior, infotainment technology, and updated engine choices.

Behold in all its full-size splendor the fifth-generation Cadillac Escalade. We might posit that this is the one that started the luxury SUV craze, but since its first red carpet appearance there are a lot of other nominees in the conversation now. We’re taking a first look at what makes the 2021 Escalade a contender. First thing to note is the exterior. Still classically good-looking and it’s about seven inches longer than the previous gen sharing some characteristics with the slightly smaller XT6, especially in the face. More size outside this body-on-frame three-row lux box means more room inside.

Third-row legroom has increased by 10 inches, so a grown human can sit in the back. It’s still just as luxurious as you’d expect. First- and second-row seat heaters come standard. Those come with leatherette or leather depending on which trim you select. You also get stuff like wireless phone charging, tri-zone climate controls and a 19-speaker AKG audio system on the base model. That’s upgradable to a 36-speaker version if you need more sound around you. 36!!

But the standout thing to mention in the interior is this OLED curved glass digital display that incorporates three screens. On the left sits a 7.2-inch panel for driver information. Next to that is the 14.2-inch instrument cluster, for stuff like speed, navigation and fuel information. Then there’s this 16.9-inch infotainment screen for audio, phone connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which come standard, and HVAC controls. In spite of all this screen there are still buttons for some functions, which we think is a good thing as this is basically a movie theater on wheels. This OLED technology has twice the pixel density of a 4K television.

Other great offerings in the Escalade include a comprehensive range of standard safety features, with some advanced functionality that comes optional, as well as Cadillac’s Super Cruise, which is their excellent driver-assistance technology system. No, you can’t go to sleep, eyes forward at all times, but it can change lanes for you and do a lot of the heavy lifting for the driver while on the highway.

Two different engine options are yours in the new Escalade. Standard is the familiar 6.2-liter V8. That gets 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. There’s a new diesel option, a Duramax 3.0-liter inline-6 turbodiesel that makes 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. Those torque numbers mean excellent towing capability, but also excellent fuel economy. This same engine gets up to 33 mpg in the Chevy Silverado. We imagine this engine option will come at quite a premium though.

Both engine options mate to a 10-speed automatic transmission and, like the previous one, this Escalade can be had as rear- or four-wheel drive. It also boasts a new multilink independent rear suspension and optional magnetic ride control and 4-corner air-suspension should make for a most comfortable ride.

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade’s price will be announced closer to its on-sale date sometime in the third quarter of 2020, but for reference current models start just over $75,000. That’s just a quick look, but we’re looking forward to diving more deeply into this juggernaut, especially when it comes to the driving dynamics, and seeing if Cadillac’s put out a winner.