The Escalade embodies the best of Cadillac’s storied past and adds 21st Century features like the most complete hands-free driving system on the road
The best cars and trucks have always resulted from the intersection of inspired design and advanced technology. That was true when a hand-crank was cutting edge engineering, when tailfins were the height of style, and it’s never been truer than today. The best cars, trucks and SUVs introduced this year demonstrate the peak of modern design and engineering.
Buyers’ traditional desires — dependability, capability, value — were amplified by economic and health concerns in 2020. At the same time, features to make cars safer than ever — for people and the planet — became an attainable reality for more drivers.
The 2021 Free Press vehicles of the year exemplify that.
For the first time in decades, Cadillac executives can quote the brand’s longtime slogan — “The standard of the world” — without fear of irony.
The 2021 Escalade SUV vaults the brand back to the front of the luxury market, grabbing the lead in one of the most popular and hotly contested vehicle segments: flagship luxury SUVs.
The Escalade embodies the best of Cadillac’s storied past — room, power, style — while adding 21st century technology that includes augmented reality and the most complete hands-free driving system on the road.
The Escalade’s interior literally offers enough room to maintain a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended 6 feet between front seat and third-row passengers, with easy access and comfortable accommodations throughout.
The new Escalade’s independent rear suspension elevates the third row of seats’ comfort and delivers a smooth ride, particularly in conjunction with an optional air suspension.
The optional 36-speaker AKG Studio Reference audio system allows the front passenger to adjust the volume independently of the driver, a boast that seems like magic till you experience it. Augmented reality superimposes directional arrows and destination pins over a crystal-clear video projection of the road ahead.
The interior design is clean and modern, with a choice of seven wood trims and opulent leather wrapping virtually every other surface.
A gasoline V8 delivers competitive fuel economy, while a straight-six diesel is the segment’s fuel economy benchmark.
The only box the Escalade leaves unchecked is some level of electrification to reduce emissions further. For that, we have to wait and see whether Cadillac’s upcoming all-electric models assert themselves as the standard of the world in that new technology.
2021 Cadillac Escalade at a glance
- Seven- or eight-passenger large luxury SUV
- Model range: Rear- and four-wheel drive, regular wheelbase and extended ESV
- Engines: 277-hp 3.0L diesel straight-six; 420-hp 6.2L gasoline V8
- 10-speed automatic transmission
- Price range: $76,195-$105,995
- Base rear-drive model EPA estimated mpg: Diesel, 21 mpg city/ 27 highway/23 combined; gasoline 15/20/17
- Available safety/assist features: Adaptive cruise control; front and rear automatic braking; front and rear parking assist; front and rear pedestrian detection; safety alert seat; blind spot and cross traffic alert; head up display; rear camera mirror; lane keeping alert and assist; lane change alert; night vision; enhanced automatic emergency braking, Super Cruise hands free driving available shortly.