Cadillac opts for revolution in 2021 Escalade
For the last 20 years, Cadillac has been dedicated to providing the most advanced vehicles in the General Motors product family. Staying ahead of Chevrolet and GMC in the large SUV market hasn't been easy, but with the completely redesigned 2021 Escalade, Cadillac has leapt back into the lead with a revolutionary vehicle that offers top-drawer luxury as well as the absolute latest in technological advances.
When you settle into the front seats of the Escalade, the presentation looks like something out of Star Trek. The dashboard screen with the infotainment, navigation, and vehicle settings is curved, which is an industry first. The total screen real estate is over 38 inches, measured on the diagonal. The effect is made up of three actual screens, measuring 7.2 inches for the driver information center on the left, a 14.2-inch main driver's display directly ahead of the steering wheel, and a huge 16.9-inch infotainment screen in the center of the dashboard.
When you engage the navigation, you'll be amazed at the way Cadillac has created an augmented reality overlay to the forward view shown on the screen. When the navigation is directing you, the center screen shows a camera view ahead of the Escalade with an overlay of directive arrows, street names, and additional information as needed. The same screen also shows an enhanced birds-eye view of the vehicle when you're backing up. That's an important feature because the Escalade is really big.
The cameras don't only look forward and down, however. You can get your Escalade with a rear-facing camera feeding a screen in the rear-view mirror. That may sound like overkill until you use it. If you spend a day with this feature, I guarantee it will be on your "must have" list. It's especially useful at dusk and at night, because the camera brightens and sharpens the image so you can see much more than just a set of headlights behind your vehicle. Cadillac also offers night vision, which will illuminate animals and pedestrians that the headlights might not catch and display that image on the center screen.
Another optional feature worth describing is Cadillac's Super Cruise system. This is a true hands-off driver assistance feature. When Cadillac first developed it, I "drove" a car from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Los Angeles, California, a distance of over 800 miles, and had hands on the wheel for perhaps 50 of those miles. Super Cruise is among the most advanced driver assistance systems in the world.
The Escalade's interior is pure luxury. The seats are deliciously comfortable, and Cadillac has done great work at keeping the cabin quiet. One important detail to mention is the soft-close doors. No matter how hard your kids try to slam the door, the Escalade catches it and smoothly closes the last inch without a sound. There are three rows of seats, and there's enough room in the third row for two adults, though getting back there is a bit of a climb. Cadillac has increased the third-row legroom by 10 inches. All the seats fold down to create a huge cargo space when you need it.
The Escalade is powered by GM's standard 6.2-liter V8 engine, rated at 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. It's a powerful engine, but it's made even better by Cadillac's 10-speed automatic transmission. The net effect is plenty of power whenever you need it. The Escalade we tested also included four-wheel-drive, which is controlled from the driver's seat.
On the road, the Escalade feels solid and offers unshakeable traction. That's due to a new design independent rear suspension. No more of the solid-axle design borrowed from a pickup truck! The new suspension is silky smooth and your back row passengers will appreciate it. Cadillac offers magnetic ride control on all four wheels. This uses sensors to constantly adjust damping rates to reduce body roll, bumps, and vibration on Portland's rough roads. You can layer an adaptive air ride suspension feature on top of that for automatic load leveling when towing, or use it to raise the Escalade up for off-road driving, or drop the Escalade by 2 inches to assist people in and out of the vehicle.
There's actually so much in the new Escalade that you'll really want to take the full tour at your preferred Cadillac dealership. Shipments of the 2021 Escalade are expected before year's end. I strongly encourage you to take a good look now, because these features are truly ahead of their time. The bottom line on the 2021 Escalade is simple: this is a revolutionary vehicle.
2021 Cadillac Escalade 4WD Platinum
Base price: $102,995
Price as tested: $109,340
Type: Full size SUV
Engine: 6.2-liter V8 (420 hp, 460 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 14/19
Overall length: 211 inches
Curb weight: 5,822 pounds
Final assembly: Arlington, Texas
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