Large luxury SUVs have only been getting larger in their latest generations — at least that’s the case with the 2021 Cadillac Escalade. The new version of GM’s flagship family hauler is here, with more space than before and a huge surprise under the hood: a diesel engine. Now, those of you following the reveals of the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon over on TFLtruck may not be surprised by that revelation. However, while we figured the Duramax diesel would make its way from the Silverado to the Suburban and the Yukon, I wondered if Cadillac would integrate it into the Escalade.
When you think about American luxury, most wouldn’t think of a relatively loud, clattering diesel engine as a wise decision. However, we’ve been impressed with the engine so far, and the inevitable fuel economy bump over the V-8 can’t hurt either. The 3.0-liter turbodiesel makes 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque.
If the diesel engine isn’t your thing, you can still get a 6.2-liter V-8 engine instead. Cadillac says that engine is the standard option, and packs 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. It also has stop/start technology and Dynamic Fuel Management, which may help the bulky luxury barge come closer to pulling its way out of the teens on fuel economy. The current-generation Escalade manages 14 City / 21 Highway / 17 Combined mpg with the four-wheel drive model. Whichever engine you choose, you’ll still get GM’s 10-speed automatic transmission.
Other systems available on the 2021 Cadillac Escalade includes an electronic limited-slip differential (similar to the Yukon), as well as an all-new independent rear suspension and adaptive air ride suspension. Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control, as was available before, continues on in the new model.
The screen situation isn’t quite what we thought it would be
One of the other party tricks we knew about with the 2021 Cadillac Escalade was its OLED infotainment display. Boasting twice the pixel density of a 4K television, Cadillac claims 38 inches of total diagonal display area. That display area isn’t one solid screen, as we thought it might be. Instead, the Escalade has three screens between infotainment and driver information laid out across the dashboard. To the driver’s left, there’s a 7.2-inch touch control panel. Then, the main instrument cluster measures 14.2 inches, while the main screen is a 16.9-inch unit to the driver’s right. It’s not one continuous unit, but it’s integrated in such a way that most of the information is aimed toward the driver. By switching to an OLED panel, Cadillac also ditched the standard shroud covering the instrument cluster that you’ll still see with more common LCD displays.
Sticking with the interior design, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade gets a more simple layout. Gone are the old, fairly anonymous looking switches. Instead, you get command knobs for the infotainment system, and a more conventional, horizontal layout for the climate controls. That infotainment system hooks up to a standard 19-speaker AKG Studio system, replacing the Bose surround sound system that had been a staple in Cadillac’s SUV since its introduction in 1999. The available AKG Studio Reference system bumps that up to an insane 36 speakers, powered by three amplifiers that deliver 28 sound channels.
On the practicality front, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade offers more all-around room than before. The new architecture provides 40 percent more third-row legroom (34.9 inches) and 25.5 cubic feet of cargo space (a 68 percent improvement) with all seats in place on the standard-length version.
The Escalade gets Super Cruise
Cadillac first introduced its semi-autonomous Super Cruise system for its flagship CT6 sedan. It’s since moved into the brand’s other models, and with the demise of the CT6, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade picks up the torch and brings the technology into the luxury SUV segment. The system enables hands-free driving on 200,000 miles of highway in the U.S. and Canada, Cadillac says.
Apart from using LiDAR map data, precision GPS and a driver attention system, the new Escalade also boasts an automated lane change system. That will allow the driver to perform a single lane change by using the indicator, without having to completely take over.
On sale later this year
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade does not have official pricing yet. However, GM did announce the new model would go on sale in late 2020. As before, the company will build the new Escalade at its Arlington, Texas assembly plant. Since 2015, GM invested $1.4 billion in the plant and currently employs 4,800 personnel.