2021 Cadillac Escalade | Review & Road Test

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From its exterior stature to the incredible tech and roomier interior to a new engine choice, Cadillac’s giving us something to talk about.

The Escalade maintains its familiar shape and styling, but it does get a little bit longer, to the tune of 7-inches.

That space outside definitely translates to space inside. That’s especially the case with the second and third rows.

I know I’m small, but you can definitely fit a full-size person in here now. Which seems right for a full-size SUV.

Headroom and legroom are plentiful.

The interior is resplendent with the luxury fit and finish materials. Wireless smartphone charging and a 19-speaker audio system are also standard fare.

Remember I mentioned people singing songs about the Escalade. Well, you can upgrade to a 36-speaker AKG sound system on which to those songs. 36 speakers for $4,300.

Other optional amenities include soft-touch doors, a panoramic sunroof, rear camera mirror, air suspension, and magnetic ride control. You can even get night vision ($2,000) and a console cooler ($2,000).

I wouldn’t be doing this justice without talking about the elephant in the room. And by elephant, I mean this massive OLED screen. This is like IMAX for your car.

The 14.2-inch center panel contains the driver information center and the instrument cluster, while the much larger screen to the right shows audio, navigation, and phone info.

The premier of the new Top Gun movie is actually happening inside this car. That’s a joke, but it could.

The navigation system comes with augmented reality, which overlays directions on a live camera feed of the road ahead so you never miss a turn. This quite literally has bells and whistles it didn’t even know it had. Navigating through the system could be easier, though I imagine with repetition a user becomes accustomed to it quickly.

If King or Queen of the road sounds good to you, then this might be a great choice, your highness. Because that’s how you feel in the Escalade. Big, prestigious, with a barreling 6.2 V8 engine (420 hp/460 lb-ft. torque)

All that grunt is a necessary thing because this is a big boy at over 5,600 pounds.

It’s not really made for towing with that low power number, but you definitely benefit from better fuel economy here.

Two- and four-wheel drive is an option with the Escalade. If you plan to do stuff either on dirt or you live in a location that sees some weather, then the latter might be a great option for you.

Whichever drivetrain you choose, you’ll get an amazingly smooth 10-speed transmission. Our test vehicle was equipped with the optional magnetic ride control and 4-corner air suspension. Magnetic Ride Control is standard only on the Platinum, Platinum Luxury and Sport Escalades. Air suspension is standard only on the Platinum models (while being available as an option on the Premium Luxury and Sport).

Combined with the newly standard independent rear suspension, this is the most refined and comfortable Escalade yet. It glides easily over the road and eats up pavement imperfections.

This fifth-gen Cadillac Escalade debuts the latest generation of Super Cruise ($2500 package), GM’s hand-free automated driving system. Past versions have won acclaim for their autonomous driving abilities.

The independent rear suspension does more than improve the ride quality of the new Escalade, which I love from this seat. That it also takes up less space than the live-axle arrangement and makes the ride more spacious for folks back there means Cadillac got two upgrades for the price of one.

There’s a good safety suite, which comes standard featuring automatic emergency braking. A more thorough safety suite has lane-keeping assist and a blind-spot warning system, a technology that should be standard on vehicles at the Escalade’s price.

The base 2WD Escalade starts at $76,195. If you want 4WD, that’s an extra $3,000, just like it is on every other trim level. The longer ESV model, like last year, also adds $3,000 to the price. The destination charge on these and all other Escalades is $1,295, and the new diesel won’t cost extra if you should choose that.

The Premium Luxury Escalade starts at around $83,000, while the Escalade Sport begins at just a bit higher (graphic: $85,600).

The Premium Luxury Platinum and Sport Platinum Escalades up the content quotient even further and are priced accordingly, both at $99,995.

With 4WD, they break the $100,000 barrier, both coming in at $102,995. Remember to add $3,000 if you want the longer Escalade ESV. Those are full-sized prices.

I really could go on more, because there’s so much Cadillac has stuffed into this huge thing. Full-size luxury. Full-size tech. Full-size space. Full-size SUV. Escalade.

00:00 2021 Cadillac Escalade
0:25 Exterior
1:05 Interior
3:40 Competitors
3:50 Driving Impressions
4:10 Engine