The Cadillac Escalade is finally ready to grow up and become worthy of its hefty price.

On Tuesday in Beverly Hills, California, the Detroit-based automaker unveiled the 2021 Cadillac Escalade with more technology, an independent rear suspension, and a luxurious interior.

Inside, the 2021 Escalade’s design is ripped right out of the Escala concept. Soft leather and available woven materials on the doors and lower portion of the dashboard. The dashboard is dominated by more than 38 inches of thin, curved, OLED screen comprised of a 7.2-inch touchscreen to the left of the gauge cluster with vehicle information, a 14.2-inch digital gauge cluster, and a 16.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the center of the dash. Key functions like phone and navigation can also be run through a rotary controller and hard buttons on the center console. For the first time in the Escalade’s history, the truck-style column-mounted gear selector gives way to a console-mounted electronic gear selector.

2021 Cadillac Escalade

2021 Cadillac Escalade

Technophiles will be able to geek out with Escalade’s options list. The navigation system will feature augmented reality that allows for street views with directional overlay arrows, and those can be transferred over to the 14.2-inch digital gauge cluster. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility will be standard. A rear seat entertainment system will employ a pair of 12.6-inch screens mounted to the backs of the front seats. It will allow rear-seat passengers to stream video and play games, music, and videos through HDMI and USB inputs. The screens will also mirror Android-based smartphones. Rear-seat passengers will also be able to submit destination suggestions via the rear screens to the driver—taking back-seat driving to a whole new dimension.

The 2021 Escalade will come standard with an AKG Studio 19-speaker surround sound system, and an AKG Studio Reference 36-speaker 3D surround sound system will be standard on the Platinum trim and available on the Premium Luxury and Sport models.

A carryover 6.2-liter V-8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque will be the standard engine. Those looking for better fuel economy will want to opt for the 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-6 with 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. Regardless of which engine is chosen, power will flow to the rear wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive with low-range gearing and an electronic limited-slip differential will be available.

For those who plan to tow, Cadillac will offer up to nine camera views along with the ability to extend the blind-spot monitoring system to include the attached trailer. The Escalade will also be able to monitor the trailer’s tire pressures.

2021 Cadillac Escalade

2021 Cadillac Escalade

Riding on a new platform shared with the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban and 2021 GMC Yukon/Yukon XL, the 2021 Escalade gets an independent rear suspension for the first time. A passive suspension will be standard, but adaptive dampers and a four-corner air suspension system with up to 4 inches of adjustability will be available.

The 2021 Escalade is larger than its predecessor by nearly 7 inches with a 4-inch longer wheelbase. Third-row occupants receive the most benefit with more than 10 inches of additional legroom, but second-row passengers will enjoy seats that now slide fore and aft. Cargo capacity behind the third row is up by more than 68 percent; the Escalade can haul up to 25.5 cubic feet of stuff with all the seats in place, and that grows to 109.1 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded. The independent rear suspension allows the third row to fold flat.

The exterior of the Escalade is more evolution than revolution. The front is still blunt and upright with an imposing grille. The vertical daytime running lights and horizontal headlights are similar to those of the XT6 crossover SUV. The vertical taillights barely change from last generation other than more-intricate detailing. Luxury models will sport platinum silver exterior accents while Sport models black out everything with shiny black plastic. Every 2021 Escalade will ride on 22-inch wheels regardless of trim.

Five different trim levels of the Escalade will be available: Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, Platinum Sport, and Platinum Luxury.

2021 Cadillac Escalade

2021 Cadillac Escalade

Every 2021 Escalade will feature forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view camera system, and active lane control. A night vision system, blind-spot monitors, a head-up display, lane-departure warnings, and rear cross-traffic alerts with lane-change alerts will be available.

Cadillac’s Level 2 hands-free driver-assist system, Super Cruise, will be on the options list and will add the ability to change lanes thanks to a new sensor array.

The options list for the 2021 Escalade will be vast. Everything from a refrigerator and freezer to a 36-speaker AKG sound system and a head-up display will be optional.

Cadillac hasn’t said how much the 2021 Escalade will cost when it goes on sale in the third quarter of 2020, but confirmed to Motor Authority it will start from about $76,500 like the current model and fully optioned versions will cost far more than today’s Escalade.


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