Introduced over 20 years ago, the Escalade went from a rebadged GMC Yukon Denali to an American status symbol embraced by everyone from rappers to business executives. However, the SUV has lost some of its lusters as other luxury brands have slowly entered the segment.

Cadillac is now fighting back with an all-new Escalade that is far more luxurious and differentiated than its predecessor. That being said, the redesigned model also benefits from the improvements made to the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon.

The Escalade is known for its somewhat brash appearance, but the fifth-generation model tones things down as it features an all-new design that follows in the footsteps of the XT6. As a result, the SUV has an upright grille which is flanked by horizontal headlights. The latter are joined by vertical LED daytime running lights which are a hallmark of the brand.

The sides resemble the Escalade’s corporate cousins, but the model comes standard with 22-inch alloy wheels. Bigger changes occur out at the back as there are vertical taillights with “deep three-dimensional layers and finishes with detailed etching.”

While the Escalade used to define bling, the 2021 model will be offered in a Sport trim for the first time. It replaces the bright Galvano accents used on the Luxury and Premium Luxury models with black trim and a black mesh grille. Customers can also opt for a range-topping Platinum variant that has “unique interior and exterior details.”

Stepping inside the cabin, drivers sit behind a leather-wrapped steering wheel and find themselves looking at a 38+ inch curved OLED display which has twice the pixel density of a 4K television.

While Cadillac likes to taut the size of the display, it’s actually broken up into multiple sections. Key among them are a 14.2-inch digital instrument cluster, a 16.9-inch infotainment system, and a 7.2-inch driver information center which resides left of the steering wheel.

The high-tech features don’t end there as the Escalade has a newly available augmented reality navigation system. It displays a live video feed in the instrument cluster and embeds directional information on top of it. The system also incorporates an audio function that will tell drivers to “turn left” only through the left speakers.

Other tech options include Cadillac’s familiar Rear Camera Mirror and a Night Vision system which uses infrared technology to enhance visibility as well as detect pedestrians and large animals. Customers can also opt for a Trailering Integration Package which includes a trailer brake controller, extended side blind zone alert and access to up to nine camera views.

Speaking of cameras, the Escalade comes standard with a Surround Vision system that uses four cameras to provide a bird’s eye view of the vehicle’s surroundings.

Getting back to interior options, customers can order a rear-seat entertainment system that features a pair of 12.6-inch touchscreen displays. They’re pretty high-tech as they can be used to play games, music, and videos through HDMI and USB inputs as well as mirror Android smartphones. For chauffeur duties, the screens can be used to “suggest” destinations to the driver, which they can either accept or decline.

Putting aside the technology for a bit, the cabin is awash with premium leather, wood trim and metallic accents. Among the highlights are ambient lighting, door panel piping and stainless-steel speaker grilles. Customers will have “no less than eight color and trim choices” including an all-new Gideon Whisper Beige option which boasts “custom-woven fabric that adds a new level of style and ambience.”

The Escalade also comes with new audio systems by AKG. The base system features 19 speakers and a subwoofer, while the optional AKG Studio Reference system has 36 speakers and three amplifiers.

The latter system also has a few tricks of its own including a Conversation Enhancement function which uses microphones and speakers to improve conversations between people in the front and rear seats. Another interesting addition is a dedicated volume controller for the front passenger.

Thanks to the all-new platform and independent rear suspension, the Escalade is far more spacious than its predecessor. In the standard model, third-row legroom climbs 40% to 34.9 inches (886 mm) and this creates “one of the roomiest third rows in the segment.” Cargo space behind the third-row seat also jumps 68% to 25.5 cubic feet (722 liters), while overall capacity climbs to 109.1 cubic feet (3,089 liters).

Those needing additional space can get the Escalade ESV which is 15.9 inches (404 mm) longer than the standard model. It boasts 36.6 inches (933 mm) of third-row legroom and an overall cargo capacity of 126.6cubic feet (3,585 liters).

As announced earlier this year, Cadillac’s semi-autonomous driving system will be available on the Escalade. It allows for “hands-free driving” on more than 200,000 miles (321,869 km) of highways in Canada and the United States. This is possible thanks to “LiDAR map data, high-precision GPS, a state-of-the-art driver attention system and a network of cameras and radar sensors.”

While Super Cruise isn’t new, Cadillac recently announced an update which allows for automated lane changes. When the system is activated, drivers simply need to use the turn signal and the SUV will automatically change into the desired lane when an appropriate opening has been found.

As expected, the Escalade has a 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 420 hp (313 kW / 426 PS) and 460 lb-ft (623 Nm) of torque. While it’s not the twin-turbo 4.2-liter Blackwing V8 that fans were hoping for, the engine does have variable valve timing, stop/start technology and a cylinder deactivation system. Cadillac says these features enable the engine to balance performance with efficiency.

The big powertrain news for 2021 is a newly available 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine. The six-cylinder unit is connected to a ten-speed automatic transmission and produces 277 hp (207 kW / 281 PS) and 460 lb-ft (623 Nm) of torque.

Speaking of performance, drivers can expect “dramatically” enhanced ride quality, control and steering responsiveness thanks to the aforementioned independent rear suspension. The model also has Magnetic Ride Control which continually adjusts the shocks to deliver a comfortable ride

Introduced over 20 years ago, the Escalade went from a rebadged GMC Yukon Denali to an American status symbol embraced by everyone from rappers to business executives. However, the SUV has lost some of its luster as other luxury brands have slowly entered the segment.

Cadillac is now fighting back with an all-new Escalade that is far more luxurious and differentiated than its predecessor. That being said, the redesigned model also benefits from the improvements made to the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon.

An All-New, More Mature Look

The Escalade is known for its somewhat brash appearance, but the fifth-generation model tones things down as it features an all-new design that follows in the footsteps of the XT6. As a result, the SUV has an upright grille which is flanked by horizontal headlights. The latter are joined by vertical LED daytime running lights which are a hallmark of the brand.

The sides resemble the Escalade’s corporate cousins, but the model comes standard with 22-inch alloy wheels. Bigger changes occur out at the back as there are vertical taillights with “deep three-dimensional layers and finishes with detailed etching.”

While the Escalade used to define bling, the 2021 model will be offered in a Sport trim for the first time. It replaces the bright Galvano accents used on the Luxury and Premium Luxury models with black trim and a black mesh grille. Customers can also opt for a range-topping Platinum variant that has “unique interior and exterior details.”

A Truly High-Tech And Upscale Interior

Stepping inside the cabin, drivers sit behind a leather-wrapped steering wheel and find themselves looking at a 38+ inch curved OLED display which has twice the pixel density of a 4K television.

While Cadillac likes to taut the size of the display, it’s actually broken up into multiple sections. Key among them are a 14.2-inch digital instrument cluster, a 16.9-inch infotainment system and a 7.2-inch driver information center which resides left of the steering wheel.

The high-tech features don’t end there as the Escalade has a newly available augmented reality navigation system. It displays a live video feed in the instrument cluster and embeds directional information on top of it. The system also incorporates an audio function which will tells drivers to “turn left” only through the left speakers.

Other tech options include Cadillac’s familiar Rear Camera Mirror and a Night Vision system which uses infrared technology to enhance visibility as well as detect pedestrians and large animals. Customers can also opt for a Trailering Integration Package which includes a trailer brake controller, extended side blind zone alert and access to up to nine camera views.

Speaking of cameras, the Escalade comes standard with a Surround Vision system that uses four cameras to provide a bird’s eye view of the vehicle’s surroundings.

Getting back to interior options, customers can order a rear-seat entertainment system that features a pair of 12.6-inch touchscreen displays. They’re pretty high-tech as they can be used to play games, music, and videos through HDMI and USB inputs as well as mirror Android smartphones. For chauffeur duties, the screens can be used to “suggest” destinations to the driver, which they can either accept or decline.

Putting aside the technology for a bit, the cabin is awash with premium leather, wood trim, and metallic accents. Among the highlights are ambient lighting, door panel piping, and stainless-steel speaker grilles. Customers will have “no less than eight-color and trim choices” including an all-new Gideon Whisper Beige option which boasts “custom-woven fabric that adds a new level of style and ambiance.”

The Escalade also comes with new audio systems by AKG. The base system features 19 speakers and a subwoofer, while the optional AKG Studio Reference system has 36 speakers and three amplifiers.

The latter system also has a few tricks of its own including a Conversation Enhancement function which uses microphones and speakers to improve conversations between people in the front and rear seats. Another interesting addition is a dedicated volume controller for the front passenger.

Thanks to the all-new platform and independent rear suspension, the Escalade is far more spacious than its predecessor. In the standard model, third-row legroom climbs 40% to 34.9 inches (886 mm) and this creates “one of the roomiest third rows in the segment.” Cargo space behind the third-row seat also jumps 68% to 25.5 cubic feet (722 liters), while overall capacity climbs to 109.1 cubic feet (3,089 liters).

Those needing additional space can get the Escalade ESV which is 15.9 inches (404 mm) longer than the standard model. It boasts 36.6 inches (933 mm) of third-row legroom and an overall cargo capacity of 126.6 cubic feet (3,585 liters)

Super Cruise Allows For Hands-Free Driving

As announced earlier this year, Cadillac’s semi-autonomous driving system will be available on the Escalade. It allows for “hands-free driving” on more than 200,000 miles (321,869 km) of highways in Canada and the United States. This is possible thanks to “LiDAR map data, high-precision GPS, a state-of-the-art driver attention system and a network of cameras and radar sensors.”

While Super Cruise isn’t new, Cadillac recently announced an update that allows for automated lane changes. When the system is activated, drivers simply need to use the turn signal and the SUV will automatically change into the desired lane when an appropriate opening has been found.

The Escalade Goes Diesel

As expected, the Escalade has a 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 420 hp (313 kW / 426 PS) and 460 lb-ft (623 Nm) of torque. While it’s not the twin-turbo 4.2-liter Blackwing V8 that fans were hoping for, the engine does have variable valve timing, stop/start technology and a cylinder deactivation system. Cadillac says these features enable the engine to balance performance with efficiency.

The big powertrain news for 2021 is a newly available 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine. The six-cylinder unit is connected to a ten-speed automatic transmission and produces 277 hp (207 kW / 281 PS) and 460 lb-ft (623 Nm) of torque.

Speaking of performance, drivers can expect “dramatically” enhanced ride quality, control and steering responsiveness thanks to the aforementioned independent rear suspension. The model also has Magnetic Ride Control which continually adjusts the shocks to deliver a comfortable ride.

New for 2021 is an available Air Ride Adaptive Suspension which allows for automatic load-leveling and automatic ride height adjustments. Speaking of the latter, the system will automatically reduce the ride height at highway speeds to improve aerodynamics. It can also be set to lower the ride height by 2 inches (51 mm) to improve entry and egress. Lastly, drivers can raise the suspension to provide additional ground clearance when off-roading.

On the topic of off-road adventures, the Escalade can be outfitted with an optional electronic limited-slip differential. It delivers torque to the rear wheel with the most traction and this helps to aid in rough terrain and inclement weather.

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade will be launched in the third quarter and pricing will be announced in the coming months.

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