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2021 Cadillac Escalade - Review by Larry Nutson +VIDEO

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You have arrived

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

General Motors has redesigned its trio of full size utility vehicles for 2021. That is, the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade are all new.

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Larry Nutson

I’ve previously driven the new GMC Yukon decked out in the premium Denali trim…a sub-brand in itself. Now I’ve recently driven the entirely new and very luxurious Cadillac Escalade.

Across the board all of these full size UVs get a new independent rear suspension. A new longer wheelbase combined with the design and packaging of the suspension opens up the platform to provide more interior space. Plus, the ride will now be a lot smoother than the previous solid rear axle design.

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The fifth-generation Escalade gets a load of new technology. Most noticeable is the new gauge cluster and infotainment display that graces nearly the entire instrument panel. Cadillac's Super Cruise semi-automated driving system is also now available.

Completely redone in and out, the interior got lots of focus. Deservedly so, as it’s the place we spend all our time. Escalade’s cabin is more refined, quite modern and elegant. An item deserving of attention is the 38 inch curved glass panel of the Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) display. It has twice the pixel density of a 4K television and the largest color range of any automotive display in production today. The system includes a 7.2-inch-diagonal touch control panel driver information center to the driver’s left, a 14.2-inch-diagonal cluster display behind the steering wheel and a 16.9-inch-diagonal Infotainment screen to the driver’s right.

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Discretely hidden exterior cameras provide augmented reality street views in the navigation system, as well as 360-view birds eye views. The first ever automotive use of AKG audio technology features an available 36-speaker AKG Studio Reference surround sound system.

New on the Escalade is the availability of Cadillac’s exclusive Super Cruise, the first true hands-free driver assistance feature for limited- access freeways. It’s available to use on more than 130,000 miles of limited-access freeways in the U.S. and Canada.

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The Escalade is all about interior space and the big news is in the third-row seat. It’s roomier than previous and well suited for adults. The second-row seats are just as plush and comfortable, with a choice of a 3-seat bench or two captain’s chairs. Front seatbacks can hold entertainment screens for second-row viewing.

On the outside the Escalade retains its recognizable bold look but with more elegant style. The front fascia and grille are very upright with the signature vertical front and rear lights making a firm statement. Twenty-two inch wheels are standard.

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The 2021 Escalade is offered in five trim levels: Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, Premium Luxury Platinum and Sport Platinum.

All Escalades are powered by a 420hp 6.2-L V8 mated to a 10-speed automatic. There’s a choice of rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. On Luxury and Platinum Luxury trims there’s also a 277hp 3.0-L six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that can be had. It also uses a 10-speed automatic.

EPA fuel economy ratings for the V8 are 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway (19 mpg 4WD).

is offered in a 120.9 inch wheelbase with a 211 inch length or in an ESV model for max cargo capacity with 134.1 inch wheelbase with a 226.9 inch overall length. The Escalade is rated to tow 7,400 to 8,200 lbs. depending on model.

Magnetic Ride Control, Air Ride Adaptive Suspension automatic load-leveling and ride-height adjustments and Electronic Limited Slip Differential (eLSD) are available to deliver excellent ride quality and handling.

prices start at $77,490 for the Luxury trim, including the $1,295 destination charge. A top of the line Premium Luxury Platinum 4WD is $104,290. The ESV model is $3,000 additional.

My 2021 Escalade drive experience was in the top trim Premium Luxury Platinum with $5,210 worth of options including night vision and power retractable assist steps for a total price of $109,500.

The 2021 Escalade is big, as it should be. It is intended to fill a need. It’s also luxurious and sophisticated. It’s quiet on the highway with top-class NVH. The 420hp V8 is quiet too with plenty of punch, although it does like to consume gasoline. And, the 10-speed automatic is a smooth operator, always finding the right gear. There’s loads of comfort and convenience on the inside that will please every passenger. Leather trim everywhere is soft and smooth.


By the way if you want to shop from home, Cadillac Live connects you with a live product specialist in a studio for a virtual tour of the Escalade and other Cadillac models. This virtual showroom, sort of like a personal auto show, complements a local auto show or dealer visit with the intent to broaden your online knowledge.

© 2020 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy