2021 Cadillac Escalade review


What kind of vehicle is the 2021 Cadillac Escalade? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade is the luxury automaker’s full-size, three-row SUV and its most expensive model. The Escalade is mechanically related to the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, as well as the 2021 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL. Rivals include the Lincoln Navigator, BMW X7, Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, and Land Rover Range Rover.  

Is the 2021 Cadillac Escalade good SUV?

Review continues below

The Escalade has always been a symbol of luxury, but the 2021 model improves its technology, space, and comfort. It rides better than it ever has, remains powerful, and its cockpit sits at the forefront of connected technology. We rate it highly, and give it a TCC Rating of 7.2 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 Cadillac Escalade?

The Escalade is redesigned for 2021 and is now in its fifth generation since it debuted in 1999. The luxurious people mover is even larger and features a roomier third row, more cargo room, and the latest technology, including Super Cruise and up to five screens inside its cabin. It also gets an independent rear suspension, available air suspension, a new diesel engine option, and more safety features. 

Nearly 8 inches longer overall with an almost 5-inch increase in the wheelbase on the standard model, the Escalade will challenge suburban garages. It continues in standard and long-wheelbase configurations; the latter is still called the Escalade ESV, and it is 2.6 inches longer than the 2020 model.

The new Escalade has a blunt front end, horizontal headlights, and vertical taillights that go from bumper to roof. Sport models trade all the exterior chrome for shiny black trim. Every 2021 Escalade rides on 22-inch alloy wheels.

Inside, the Escalade distances itself from its truck-based roots with a true luxury-car interior. The dashboard features 38 inches of curved OLED screens stretched across the dash and wrapped in leather. 

Escalade buyers have two engine options: A carryover 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8 or a 277-hp 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-6 that arrives late in 2020. A 10-speed automatic transmission is paired to both engines. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and four-wheel drive with low-range gearing and a mechanical or electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential is available. 

All Escalades get an independent rear suspension that improves interior space and smooths out the ride quality. The ride is further improved with adaptive magnetic dampers and a four-corner air suspension system can raise or lower the Escalade by up to 4 inches.

Buyers can choose seven- or eight-passenger seating. The larger size greatly improves third-row leg room and cargo space. The second row slides forward and back to trade space with the third row. 

Cadillac outfits the 2021 Escalade with standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view camera system, and a seat that vibrates in the direction of a potential danger. Also available are adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, rear automatic braking, automatic parking, and night vision.

How much does the 2021 Cadillac Escalade cost?

Cadillac offers the Escalade in Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, Premium Luxury Platinum, and Sport Platinum trim levels, each in short-wheelbase or long-wheelbase ESV body styles. 

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade starts at $77,490 for the short-wheelbase base model and $80,480 for the ESV. Four-wheel drive adds $3,000 to any trim level.

The Escalade luxury comes standard with 12-way power-adjustable front seats covered in synthetic leather, heated first- and second-row seats, remote start, power-folding second-row seats, a 19-speaker AKG sound system, wireless smartphone charging, a hands-free liftgate, LED headlights and taillights, a mechanical limited-slip rear differential, and 22-inch alloy wheels.  

Where is the 2021 Cadillac Escalade made?

In Arlington, Texas.

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