By on February 5, 2020

gm

The last model of the General Motors body-on-frame SUV trifecta to drop just hit the ground in Hollywood. After a greater than normal amount of press leakage, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade showed off its upmarket flanks and decidedly less flashy face Tuesday night, marking an end to the trend of overly ornate Caddy range-toppers.

Like the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban and GMC Yukon that debuted before it, the revamped Escalade adds interior volume and suspends that capacious cabin with fully independent legs. Gone is the solid rear axle.

Gone, too, is the model’s gasoline-only powertrain.

Yes, the official reveal answered a nagging question about the 2021 Escalade: Would it go the same route as its lesser GM siblings in offering an optional 3.0-liter Duramax inline-six diesel? The answer is yes. A diesel Caddy may be in your future, should you care more about fuel economy than horsepower.

Towing figures, like the Chevy and GMC models, are TBD.

gm

Depending on trim, this new Escalade — wearing the tallest Escala-derived face in the lineup — either underwhelms in terms of glitz or provides it in new areas. The Sport trim leaked earlier in the day dons a black mesh grille and blacked-out pillars, arguably turning the luxo-barge into two boxes of understated blandness. Regular variants add chrome mostly to the outer edges of the grille and reserve a big chunk of it for the C-pillar, where it hasn’t appeared in such quantities before.

It’s sort of like the Escalade ditched Baroque for Teutonic, but got lost along the way. However, that’s just this writer’s opinion. Did we mention 22-inch wheels are standard? You’ll need that independent rear. (Magnetic Ride Control is standard kit, thankfully; Air Ride adaptive suspension is optional.)

Out back, the Escalade’s signature vertical taillights remain upright, only now adopt a three-dimensional aspect.

gm

As stated before, the Escalade joined its siblings in rejecting the Slim-Fast plan. The regular-wheelbase model now stretches an extra 4.9 inches between axles and 7.1 inches stem to stern; the long-wheelbase ESV bound for a debut at April’s New York International Auto Show ups the wheelbase by 4.1 inches. Body length grows by a more modest 2.6 inches, as GM isn’t providing buyers with new garages.

The increase in cargo and rear-seat room is in line with the Tahoe/Suburban numbers released earlier. No one will notice the 40-percent boost in third-row legroom, however, because they’ll be craning their necks to take a gander at the massive screen stretching most of the way across the dash. The high-resolution OLED curved screen, stretching 38 inches on the diagonal, is guided by touch, a rotary controller, and steering wheel controls, depending on which screen you’re looking to use.

gm

There’s three screens in all. From the leftmost position, you’ll find a 7.2-inch touchscreen for driver information, followed next by a 14.2-inch display directly in front of the driver, and then a 16.9-inch infotainment screen accessible to  both the driver and front seat passenger. Those measurement, by the way, are on the diagonal.

Inches are everything in this game.

One wonders how quickly that screen will “warm up” on a very subzero morning in the frigid north. We’ll have to wait and see about that. If those combined screens, which afford the driver surround and night vision views, don’t turn your crank, the second row features pair of 12.6-inch touchscreens with HDMI and USB inputs, as well as Android Auto mirroring, to ensure no one riding in the second row needs to ever look out a window.

gm

One feature of these screens is worthy of note, if only for the parallels between the 2021 Escalade and a Gilded Age ocean liner’s engine room and pilothouse.

“Additionally, destination ‘suggestions’ can be ‘sent’ by rear passengers to the front navigation screen, for the driver to accept or decline,” Cadillac states, heralding silent road trips by fractured families whose members have sworn not to speak to each other. If music’s your bag, there’s an optional 36-speaker AKG audio system to be had.

That driver will have access to Cadillac’s enhanced Super Cruise system. As mentioned before, the updated version of the automaker’s hands-free driver-assist feature now allows users to instigate a lane change by flipping on their blinker. The vehicle takes it from there.

What noises will those occupants hear, you ask? Those riding in an Escalade with no boxes checked will hear GM’s trusty 6.2-liter V8, good for 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft, routed through a 10-speed automatic. That’s the same output as before. Cylinder deactivation will attempt to lower the vehicle’s thirst.

gm

Optional is the 3.0L Duramax originally foisted on Silverado buyers. That oil-burner generates 277 hp and, guess what, 460 lb-ft. The same tranny manages this engine’s output, sending it to either the rear wheels or all four.

Obviously, there’s more to tell you about this vehicle, but these are the highlights. As for price, that will have to wait until closer to the model’s summer on-sale date.

[Images: General Motors]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

42 Comments on “2021 Cadillac Escalade: Still a Barge, No Longer Baroque...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    What do you do with a big metal box to win styling awards? Not much. It still looks like an Escalade although a bit duller then those of the past.

    It’s fine and will still sell to those who are impressed by such a beast

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “will still sell to those who are impressed by such a beast”

      It’s the image it projects, one of wealth, refinement, upper class, in an American luxo barge.

      Ditto with homes. The more McMansion, the better.

      It’s all about image.

      Personally, I prefer a Sequoia, because we had one and it was a flawless, trouble-free ownership experience over ~95K miles. Can’t say the same with Suburban-based vehicles we owned in the past.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Yep, nothing like a McMansion and an Escalade to project “wealth, refinement, upper class”

        /s

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Want to project wealth around here? A $4M penthouse condo (or restored waterfront Victorian) and a $250k Range Rover Autobiography are going to convince a lot more people than a $1M subdivision house and a $80k Escalade.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          dal, brought a smile to my face because my sister (and her Canadian-national husband, own properties in Poulsbo, Kent-Desmoines and rural acreage in and around Ollala.

          He drives a beat up old F150 V8 standard cab long bed 2WD, circa early 2000s, and she drives an earlier generation Camry V6 (without the maw.)

          What’s even funnier is that they drive these vehicles cross-border to his properties in Vancouver, BC, when they stay there part of the year.

          There is no mistake about them having a lot more money than I do, but when they need a huge barge-like vehicle to travel in, they rent (like an Expedition EL or MAX from Enterprise).

          Come to think of it, he and his sister did inherit his dad’s old Range Rover, and share it on an as-needed basis.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      This is the first one that hasn’t made me want to have a personal protein spill. That said, I’m still not interested.

      I’ll say, Cadillac moving away from their all-angles design philosophy improves them immensely in my eyes. Then I’m not the target demo, so take opinion with so many grains of salt.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    One wonders who quickly that screen will….

    Please correct the typo/misspelling for the paragraph that begins with the above sentence. I believe the ‘who’ should be a ‘how’.

    As for the Escalade. I like it. Lots more interior room and you can still get a what is essentially a vette’ motor for your motoring pleasure.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      “motoring pleasure”? I have not driven an Escalade, but I have driven the Suburban and the Yukon on a (thankfully small) number of highway trips. They’re complete pigs – unresponsive, sloppy steering, godawful handling, indifferent brakes. No “pleasure” at all

      They epitomize the fact that the phrase “it drives like a truck” is pejorative. I agree with highdesertcat they’re entirely about image, ‘cuz there’s no way anyone would buy them for their driving characteristics.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        No crap no one drives a Suburban for its driving characteristics. You drive one to move a lot of people and stuff.

        However, the LS3 and it’s truck cousin 6.2 in the Escalade and Yukon are glorious to the ears when you mat it.
        Motoring pleasure = My family and our ski stuff packed in the Suburban headed to Steamboat Springs (which is our usual spot) over two mountain passes. We have done this too many times to count in snow storms and highway conditions that would give many incurable anxiety. Nothing is better in those types of conditions than a Suburban. Period.

        • 0 avatar
          USAFMech

          Right? I just took a family of 6, and a dog, and 2 guinea pigs, across three states for a 5-day trip. There’s nothing else on the market that comes close to the GMTs. Yes – taking HWY67 to Deckers or through the pass to Woodland Park isn’t as exciting as it is on the GSXR-1000. *eyeroll*

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        That’s a bit of an exaggeration. If anything my buddies 2017 Yukon SLT with 20″ rims handles far better than several same year Ford Expedition’s we rented and always surprises me for such a huge rig. The 18″ rim Suburban’s are not quite as good but they are hardly pigs and do give us lots of motoring pleasure on long drives proving comfortable, peppy enough, decent on fuel in highway driving and very roomy and comfortable for the whole crew to go along. That is pleasurable to us. They fill a niche that a smaller CUV can’t possibly fulfill.

  • avatar
    ajla

    It’s certainly a “kinder, gentler” generation for GM’s big SUVs.
    From comments others have left on these I was *way* off on what I thought mattered to people buying them.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Congrats they turned the Escalade into a crossover substitute to appease the journalists and the other 130 people that bch about the rear suspension despite never even being in the market for such a vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I thought Cadillac already had a large crossover, the um… XT6, you know the one no one ever talks about or sees in real life

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Ignoring the fact GM ruined the suspension on this truck, the redesigned rear end looks awful, how they got it so wrong should be in case studies across the country. To take such a stately rear end to this vehicle and make it look like a bull squatting to sht is a new low.

        Leave the crossover designs to crossover designers and leave the truck designs to truck designers. This blows.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Also who invented the time machine to bring that wheel designer back from 2001?

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            I suspect journalists are to blame for the demise of the column shifter as well.

            Never understood the vitriol that device received (extreme, and mentioned in every single review) compared to the utility of the thing (very high, very reliable, saves valuable console space).

            Yeah it was similar to a ’74 Impala, who cares? It worked great in both places. Now we have an electric stubby shift that’s worse in every way, but it looks modern so it must be better.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I didn’t even notice that, that’s ridiculous. What a waste of console space. The column shifter is a much more elegant solution that feels solid and luxurious.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      Well maybe more people will be in the market for such an Escalade now that real humans can ride in the back with the stick axle finally banished.

      A bigger stick in the mud I’ve never before come across. You’re constantly amazed that anyone doesn’t have exactly the same priorities as you have, squawk, whine, moan.

      From my point-of-view, that front end could be used by three and four year olds as a practise indoor cliff wall climbing set. Two for one. Whaddya want?

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Your absolutely ridiculous your advocating to turn an SUV into a crossover, why not just purchase a crossover if that’s what you want?

        It’s not about my priorities it’s about filling a segment in the market that up to now GM completely owned. This is now going to be a competitor with Explorers, Acadias, expeditions and other useless minivans. The attributes you exclaim are useless to SUV buyers, the market is now for the first time in American history void of any entrants.

        I just bought my wife a new leftover 2019 GMC Yukon XL seeing as we’re on kid 3 of 5 planned I had no choice but to jump on a new SUV while they still exist to take over for her GMT800 Suburban. If something happens to this new truck then I’m stuck on the used market.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          The nice thing about modern truck based SUVs like these is that they aren’t required to have sh1t ride, handling and interior space anymore. They won’t give up any capability either, so your complaints are baseless.

          If you want a purposely archaic vehicle, then you’re definitely in the right place as the used market abides there for sure.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            “ The nice thing about modern truck based SUVs like these is that they aren’t required to have sh1t ride, handling and interior space anymore.”

            Welcome to 1996, would you like some NAFTA with your time machine?

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            And before anyone points out NAFTA wasn’t signed in ‘96, I’m aware. It’s a significant year in my memory as the town I lived in lost 2 major manufacturers that has employed the towns people for over 100 years as well as a 3rd employer that was the regions largest employer that cut staff severely in an attempt to save itself, but we al know how Collins&Aikman turned out.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “And before anyone points out NAFTA wasn’t signed in ‘96, I’m aware.”

            That’s in the past now and yes, it was painful for many.

            USMCA is the new mantra in North American trade relations.

            One thing though about the old NAFTA, the loss of manufacturing etc to Mexico caused a huge boom and influx into the border land, the area where the US and Mexico share a common border.

            While the new production was done in Mexico, management stayed on the US side of the border. So there’s that.

            But all that’s in the past now.

            VIVA USMCA!

  • avatar
    IBx1

    The interior is alright but you can’t tell me that’s not just a Chevy outside.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Agreed, the current generation Escalade is quite noticeable as a Cadillac from a distance. It has enough panache and differentiation from its lowly siblings, the Tahoe and Yukon.

      The next-gen example above looks almost exactly like a next-gen TahoYukoBurban with the exception of the crest on the grille. Im not sure that this new design works. Ill have to see one in person.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “Agreed, the current generation Escalade is quite noticeable as a Cadillac from a distance. It has enough panache and differentiation from its lowly siblings, the Tahoe and Yukon.

        The next-gen example above looks almost exactly like a next-gen TahoYukoBurban”

        That’s what I’m noticing. The doors of GMT-900 Escalade will bolt right on to my 2007 Tahoe. That cannot be said for the generation that followed. Now it looks like most of the sheet metal on the Caddy is again identical to the Chevy. Or very very close.

  • avatar
    Dan

    That sweeping screen is more inches done right, except then they did it wrong and didn’t unify them. Just like all the big console tablets that only use half and spend the remaining 8″ on big radio buttons.

    This is so muted outside that the Denali is now the flashy one. Illustrating two mistakes at once.

  • avatar
    Mackie

    That C pillar. Terrible.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    I think BMW nailed the 2011 5 series after going a bit astray 2004-2010.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Well, here’s your 2020 version of a 1972 Sedan DeVille.

    On a different note, if you’re wondering whether the new CT5 is a phone-in job or not, just compare that car’s interior to this one.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      It isn’t 100% a death sentence, but the reviews I’ve read of the CT5 have been uniformly negative. I’m expecting a similar reception for the CT4. I’m not sure why they bothered.

      There is apparently a V8-powered CT5 being developed but I’m expecting that will cost major dollars.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I actually went to a Caddy dealer to check out a CT5 this weekend. I didn’t drive it, but needless to say, I was underwhelmed. The only positives I could find were styling (which, in fairness, is a lot better in person than it is in pictures) and price. The model I checked out was a RWD base version with a turbo four, and stickered out for $41,000. On paper, that’s not unreasonable. Problem is, the Cadillac dealer I went to also sells Kias, and there was a dead-sexy Stinger GT with the twin-turbo six and AWD not 100 feet away, and the Kia cost a few grand more. There’s NO way I’d opt for the Caddy.

        One one level, I see what Cadillac’s trying for here – they’re clearly positioning the CT4 and CT5 as “value” plays. Given that they couldn’t get arrested trying to sell the ATS and CTS at Mercedes/BMW prices, that makes some sense. But when you can buy something like a Stinger or Genesis G70 for a similar price to a base CT5, what’s the point?

        (Answer: there isn’t, and that’s why they phoned this car in.)

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Why does Cadillac constantly find it impossible to understand who they are and what their position in the marketplace should be? Seriously, they are now at the point of just throwing poop at a wall and hoping something will stick

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I think you’re on target concerning their sedans, but their SUVs and CUVs are quite successful. I think that’s where the brand’s going.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          I’m willing to bet this Escalade will have a starting price of $90k (Ok, $89,995.) There’s a lot you can justify including in a $90k vehicle that you can’t in a $41k vehicle.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    Once again this is not that much different from the Chevrolet and professional grade Chevrolet. Greenhouse is exactly the same other than a trim piece. Overall lower body is the same. Interior is different than the Chevrolet, but seriously, you’d think that a company that has had issues with badge-engineering could spend some cash to make each model different. Oddly, in the 1950’s even with similar greenhouses, there was more difference in all models of the same chassis than now.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Hopefully they have a premium version with 40 (diagonal) inches of info screens and 38 speakers or this is just faux luxury…….

  • avatar
    Oldschool

    Definitely too much similarities between this and the Tahoe, exterior wise. The interior looks good, but not amazing like the Navigator with all its bling and lovely detail trimming. The Caddy seats, especially the rear are straight from the Tahoe. They honestly look pretty uncomfortable being so flat, and having such thin seat bottoms. The seats should be much more luxurious with thickly padded materials with higher quality stitching, not like the cheap crap that’s in it now.

    Don’t get me started with that front end! WTF were they thinking! So basic and conservative. Blahhhhhhhhhhhhhh…..

  • avatar
    JimZ

    OLEDs don’t have to “warm up” like LCDs do.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • SaulTigh: I’ve never been willing to pay actual money for a special plate of any kind. My state used to issue...
  • tankinbeans: If only we could keep our plates for 10 years in Minnesota. We currently have to replace them every 7...
  • Corey Lewis: Yeah MKV Golf had V6 in the R through 2010. A3 had a V6 similar era. But you’re forgetting the ATS...
  • Bill Wade: I had a most excellent experience at a RAM store in Idaho. A couple of emails and 15 minutes at the dealer...
  • Steve Biro: Boring? Toyota would call it “inoffensive.” That’s the message the brand wants to...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber