This week we are reviewing the last of the all-new large 2021 GM SUVs, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade. The large Chevys, GMCs, and Cadillacs were completely redone for 2021.
My review vehicle is the Premium Luxury trim level and equipped with all-wheel drive, but a two-wheel version is available.
The exterior is very in-your-face with a massive grill and huge 22” polished wheels. This 5th-generation Escalade got larger for 2021 and tops the scales at over 3-tons.
Under the hood lies a 6.2-liter V8 putting out 420-horses and a strong 460-pound feet of torque that really gets this beast moving. It is mated to a 10-speed automatic. There is also a 6-cylinder turbo diesel available if you wish.
You’ll be amazed when you open the door to get in. You are met with an opulent interior and seating that rivals the lobby of a Ritz Carlton.
The magic really happens when you push the start button and three different screens appear in front of you, stretching almost three quarters of the way across the entire vehicle. All total, there are 38-inches of screens.
The touchscreen above the center console is almost 17” by itself and controls everything including the sound system, navigation, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and more. A swipe to left gives you trailering options, apps for wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and also Alexa.
The gauge screen is highly configurable, or you can make it a huge map that shows your exact position. There is a small third screen to the left of dash to configure the driver’s screen, turn on night vision, and adjust the terrific head-up display. There is an Augmented Reality that you can choose to give you a full view of what is in front of you. It is impressive, but a bit confusing when you are driving.
The dash is heavily stitched and there is some beautiful wood that runs across it.
The center console features your gear shifter, two cupholders, USB ports, a wireless charger, a round knob if you prefer not to operate everything by touch, a brake hold button, and a button to turn off start/stop.
The Mulan leather seats are bolstered and incredibly comfortable, they are 12-way power, and they are heated and cooled.
Moving to the center row heated-but not air conditioned-captain chairs. These occupants get their own A/C controls, air vents in the ceiling, USB ports, a power outlet, and two 12” screens to watch DVDs, play games, or search the web.
To access the massive 3rd row seat, there are switches to power fold the 2nd row seats down easily. The third row will easily seat three adults and has plenty of leg and head room.
There is a power liftgate that offers up a lot of cargo area, a power outlet if needed, and switches to fold down the 3rd row that give you a totally flat load floor. There is underneath storage also for hiding valuables. If you don’t want to open the entire liftgate, you can just open the rear glass.
Standard Equipment and Options
Escalades come completely loaded with remote start, keyless entry, a panoramic moon roof, heated power tilt steering wheel, and an amazing rear camera system with cross traffic alert.
My tester has $19,500 in options, including the Driver Assist Tech Package which gives you air ride suspension, adaptive cruise control, and enhanced emergency braking.
It also has the Performance Package that gets you trailer towing for 7,700-pounds, a locking differential, and magnetic ride suspension.
AKG Sound System
There are two other options I have to spend some time on. First, is the AKG studio surround sound system. It’s the best I’ve ever heard and it has 36 speakers throughout the SUV, including in the front seat headrests. This will set you back $4300.
Enhanced Super Cruise
Next is the Enhanced Super Cruise autonomous driving system which is by far the best I have experienced. In short, GM has driven and mapped out over 200,000 miles of divided highways.
If you are on an approved road, you’ll get a green light on the dash. Set the cruise control, hit the Super Cruise, and the vehicle literally drives itself. If you want to change lanes, turn on your blinker and it will make sure there is enough room and will change lanes for you.
A camera on the steering wheel monitors your eyes to make sure you are engaged. If not, you get a verbal warning. After that, the car will start to slow down, the flashers come on, and it will safely get you off the road and OnStar will call for help. This is in case the driver is incapacitated. Super Cruise runs $2500.
Ride and Drive
All-in-all the 2021 Escalade is an amazing, very large SUV. New for 2021 is an independent rear suspension which made a world of difference in the handling. Magnetic Ride Control gives you a very smooth ride.
Fuel economy, well, it’s what you would expect: 14 in town and 19 on the highway.
As always, all this wonderfulness comes with a hefty sticker price of $106,810. Sounds like a lot but the reality is even after the Escalade has been out over six months, they are still bringing $10,000 over sticker at the dealer auctions.
For me, the sound system and Super Cruise make it worth the price of admission, If you can find one.
- What I Liked Most: Super Cruise, the stereo, and the ride and drive.
- What I would change: Nothing really, it is an amazing SUV.
- Fuel Economy: Rated at 14 in town, 19 highway, 16 Combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: 7,000 miles.
- Weight: 6,015 pounds.
- Spare Tire: Full-sized, standard wheel.
- Length-Width-Height: 211” long/81” wide/76.6” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 28.3 gallons, filler on the driver's side.
- Towing Capacity: 7,700 lbs.
- Official Color: Shadow Metallic.
- 2021 Cadillac Escalade in a few words: Just an amazing SUV, worth every penny of the sticker price.
- Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 6-year/70,000 mile powertrain coverage with roadside assistance and courtesy transportation. First maintenance visit at no charge.
- Final Assembly Location: Arlington, TX.
- Manufacturer's website: Cadillac
- Next Up: 2021 Nissan Armada.