Home / Car Brands / 2021 Cadillac Escalade Pros and Cons Review: The Boss Is Back

2021 Cadillac Escalade Pros and Cons Review: The Boss Is Back

Pros

  • Elegant interior
  • Class-leading tech
  • Unabashed style

Cons

  • Subpar ride quality
  • Chevy parts here and there
  • Retrograde fuel economy

The Cadillac Escalade didn’t invent the concept of the luxury full-size SUV, but it’s been so dominant for so long you’d be forgiven for thinking so. Even as the competition caught and surpassed it, the biggest Caddy remained a staple of red carpet premieres, music videos, and valet lots. Now, though, the boss is back. The 2021 Cadillac Escalade takes every criticism leveled at both itself and the Cadillac brand head-on and comes away with barely a scratch.

We can’t begin anywhere but the interior. For years, we’ve begged GM to give Cadillac the budget and freedom to design world-class interiors, and the most we’ve received is high-quality materials held back by lackluster design, frustrating technology, and too many parts cribbed from the Chevrolet bin. Finally, finally, Cadillac has been given license to deliver a truly wonderful interior. This Escalade’s interior is exactly what we’ve been asking for—and what we’ve known Cadillac is capable of.

View Other 2021 SUV of the Year Contenders and Finalists Here

With so many obvious examples to point to, let’s begin with one less apparent but the most effective. Cadillac’s inspired use of a woven, linenlike fabric on the door cards and lower dashboard surfaces is one of the best interior design features we’ve seen in years. In places most luxury automakers are content to fill with (nice) plastic, Cadillac has brought both aesthetic and tactile value.

The expert application of wood complements the clever use of fabric. The exquisite parquet inlays stretching across the dash, doors, and center console are the kind of thing we’re used to seeing only in considerably more expensive hand-built vehicles.

The showstopper sits atop all that fabric, wood, and the finest grade of leather we can recall seeing in a modern Cadillac: 38 inches of curved, OLED touchscreen. Not just massive, the screens produce crisp imagery, react immediately to the touch, and pack cutting-edge features. We especially love how it extends touchscreen functionality to the left side of the instrument cluster.

Farther afield, GM engineers get full credit for finally ditching the live rear axle and fitting an independent rear suspension that allows for a fold-flat third row capable of comfortably seating adults.

The true measure of luxury, though, is in the details, and Cadillac missed one or two. As good as the interior is, we still find parts borrowed from significantly cheaper Chevrolets, such as the shifter, control stalks, and minor buttons. Cadillac won’t be equipping Escalades with its industry-leading Super Cruise technology until the 2022 model year, and in the meantime the adaptive cruise control is far too aggressive in accelerating and braking for a luxury product.

Although the Escalade handles shockingly well for a 6,000-pound behemoth, our editors were disappointed by its ride quality. Be it because this is a Sport Platinum model, because of its heavy 22-inch wheels, or both, “the Cadillac is best when driven sporty, and it rides like a garbage truck in Touring mode over rough roads,” head of editorial Ed Loh said. “Small bumps reverberate through the seat and wheel as flinty tremors.”

We know Cadillac can do better because we had the Chevrolet and GMC versions of this chassis on hand with the same magnetic shocks and air suspension, and both had superior ride quality.



































We were equally disappointed to see that despite the application of the latest fuel-saving technology, the Escalade has gone backward on efficiency compared to the old model (from 17 to 16 mpg combined with 4WD).

The new Escalade is without a doubt a massive improvement, and it’s a long-desired validation of what Cadillac can do. “This is not a slam dunk package overall, but it’s absolutely solid,” Buyer’s Guide boss Zach Gale said. “The Escalade no longer rides on reputation alone.”

With a little more polish, it’ll be beyond reproach.

2021 Cadillac Escalade 600 (Sport)
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD
ENGINE TYPE 90-deg V-8, alum block/heads
VALVETRAIN OHV, 2 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 376.0 cu in/6,162 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 11.5:1
POWER (SAE NET) 420 hp @ 5,600 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 460 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm
REDLINE 6,500 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 14.4 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 10-speed automatic
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE/LOW RATIO 3.23:1/2.05:1/2.72:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Control arms, air springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, air springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 16.6:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 3.2
BRAKES, F; R 13.5-in vented disc; 13.6-in vented disc, ABS
WHEELS 9.0 x 22-in cast aluminum
TIRES 275/50R22 111H (M+S) Bridgestone Alenza A/S 02
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 120.9 in
TRACK, F/R 68.5/68.3 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 211.9 x 81.1 x 76.7 in
GROUND CLEARANCE 8.0-10.0 in
APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE 22.0-25.0/20.5-22.5 deg
TURNING CIRCLE 39.7 ft
CURB WEIGHT 6,036 lb
WEIGHT DIST, F/R 50/50%
TOWING CAPACITY 8,000 lb
SEATING CAPACITY 7
HEADROOM, F/M/R 42.3/38.9/38.2 in
LEGROOM, F/M/R 44.5/41.7/34.9 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/M/R 65.5/64.6/62.7 in
CARGO VOLUME BEH F/M/R 109.1/63.0/25.5 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 2.1 sec
0-40 3.2
0-50 4.6
0-60 6.1
0-70 8.0
0-80 10.3
0-90 12.9
0-100 16.0
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 3.2
QUARTER MILE 14.6 sec @ 95.6 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 122 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.60 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 30.1 sec @ 0.53 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,300 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
BASE PRICE $86,890
PRICE AS TESTED $110,565
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes
AIRBAGS 7: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front center
BASIC WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 6 yrs/70,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 6 yrs/70,000 miles
FUEL CAPACITY 24.0 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 14/19/16 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 241/177 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.22 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium

The post 2021 Cadillac Escalade Pros and Cons Review: The Boss Is Back appeared first on MotorTrend.


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