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2021 Cadillac Escalade Review Redux By Larry Nutson

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2021 Cadillac Escalade Redux Review

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

Late last fall I had my first drive in Cadillac’s all-new 2021 Escalade. As we approached the start of spring 2021 I again spent some time driving the new Escalade.

GM has completely redesigned its trio of full-size utility vehicles (UV) for 2021 and the luxurious Cadillac Escalade has been very nicely enhanced.

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The new Escalade is longer than the previous model which provides for more passenger room, especially in the second- and third-row seats, as well as cargo space. Ride is significantly improved and less truck-like due to the new longer wheelbase combined with a new independent rear suspension, replacing the previous solid-axle design.

All Escalades are powered by a 420hp 6.2-L V8 mated to a 10-speed automatic. On Luxury and Platinum Luxury trims there’s a new 277hp 3.0-L V6 turbo-diesel engine that’s available. It also uses a 10-speed automatic. There’s a choice of rear-wheel or four-wheel drive.

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

In addition to the 211-inch-long Escalade with its 120.9 inch wheelbase an Escalade ESV with a 134.1 inch wheelbase with a 226.9-inch overall length is available for maximum cargo space. Escalade is rated to tow 7,400 to 8,200 lbs., depending on model.

My drive last fall 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. This time around it’s a Sport trim with four-wheel drive. With a base price of $88,595, options equipped plus destination charge brought the total to $106,940.

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

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The place we spend all our time, the interior, has gotten significant improvements. Escalade’s cabin is more refined, modern and elegant. An item deserving of attention is the gauge cluster and infotainment screen that are within a 38-inch curved OLED display—a glass panel 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.

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.

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Both Escalades that I drove were equipped with Cadillac’s Night Vision that displays the road in front of you in the gauge cluster and highlights pedestrians or animals in a yellow box. A great feature to have especially if you drive dark, unlighted country roads.

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

Another feature on both Escalades that I drove is Power Assist Steps. I probably don’t need to mention that my wife appreciated them for that big step up into the passenger seat. I’m sure young folk will too for climbing in through the rear doors. The Escalade is big. Perpendicular or angled parking spaces seem to be getting smaller. From time to time I shuffled along the “running boards” to get in or out in places where I couldn’t open the front door wide enough.

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.

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My personal preference is for two captain’s chairs in the second row. I like that they give these passengers, no matter their age, their own personal space. However, there is sometimes a need for the three-seat bench. I’ll use my daughter as the example with her three little ones, each one in a child safety seats strapped three across in her GMC Yukon.

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The Escalade has a more elegant exterior design and on overall more refined look. It’s vastly improved from the previous model and has brought Cadillac many accolades. 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.

EPA fuel economy ratings for the V8 RWD are 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. With 4WD it’s one less mpg in both city and highway ratings by EPA. The V6 Diesel with RWD is rated at 21 city mpg and 27 highway mpg, and also one less mpg in each with 4WD.

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.

The 2021 Escalade is large, luxurious, spacious and sophisticated. It’s quiet on the highway with top-class NVH. The 420hp V8 is quiet too with plenty of punch, although a bit thirsty. And, the 10-speed automatic is a smooth operator, always finding the right gear. Inside there’s loads of comfort and convenience with soft and smooth leather trim everywhere.


More information and details on the 2021 Cadillac Escalade can be found at Also visit the Cadillac Live digital virtual showroom.

In the ranks of large luxury SUVs Cadillac faces off with the Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz GLS and soon the new Jeep Grand Wagoneer, to name a few.

Decisions, decisions!

© 2021 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy