2021 Cadillac Escalade Unveiled with Theatre-like Cabin, Diesel Engine

This is it, the all-new 2021 Cadillac Escalade is finally here!

GM’s iconic luxury SUV is a strong seller, particularly in the U.S., and the fifth generation debuting today will seek to maintain this momentum and possibly gain new market shares in a highly profitable segment.

No Electric Motor… but a Diesel

While the new Cadillac Escalade was rumoured to add a hybrid or even fully electric powertrain, none of that is part of the actual plan.

Rather, the company is offering a diesel option, namely the 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder Duramax that’s also available in the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, not to mention the redesigned Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban. It produces 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque.

The standard engine remains the 6.2-litre gasoline V8 which serves up the same amount of torque along with 420 horsepower. In both cases, a 10-speed automatic transmission handles shifting.

Photo: Cadillac

New Suspension

When it comes to the ride and handling, Cadillac promises a big improvement thanks to a new independent rear suspension and available limited-slip differential. The latter is standard on Sport and Platinum models.

This new suspension can utilize either classic dampers (standard) or one of two MagneRide systems (optional). The first is connected to sensors that scan every inch of the road at 95 km/h. The second adds adaptive air damping for automatic or driver-controlled ride height adjustments on the fly.

Furthermore, similar to the CT4, CT5 and CT6 sedans, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade is available with the brand’s Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving technology, which now has the ability to perform automatic lane changes on highways when road and traffic conditions allow it.

Gorgeous Interior

A 2019 Escalade took us from the airport to GM’s technical centre near Detroit. It was a great opportunity to compare the outgoing generation with the new one, which awaited us inside the Design Dome.

The improvements that were made to the interior are considerable. Cadillac designers paid special attention to styling and material quality. The result is simply gorgeous.

Photo: Cadillac

There is no shortage of space, either. Thanks to a flatter and longer cabin floor, third-row occupants enjoy a whopping 26 centimetres of extra legroom to stretch. We’ve been told that comfort in the second row is improved, as well, but we were unable to validate Cadillac’s claim during this brief media event.

As for cargo room, the new suspension arrangement allows the trunk floor to be lowered so larger items can fit inside the Escalade, with or without the rear seats folded.

New Infotainment and Connectivity

Heavily inspired by the Escala concept, the dashboard features a massive 38-inch curved display with OLED technology for superior graphics quality. It is split into three sections: the main one facing the driver is for the eyes only, while the two sections on each side are actually touchscreens.

Photo: Cadillac

The theatre-like display boasts double the pixel count of a 4K television and it can be configured the way you want. Two options caught our attention including a Night Vision mode showing the image from a front camera in HD, plus an Augmented Reality mode that overlays information on the screen (such as an arrow when another vehicle is about to cross your path). We’re not sure how the system will work during winter because of all the snow and ice wet get in Canada.

Second-row entertainment (video, music, navigation) is provided through a pair of independent displays. Using the USB or HDMI ports, you can connect a device and easily share content from one display to the other. The driver also has control over these screens and can turn them off when necessary.

The Power of Sound

During the presentation, Cadillac insisted a lot on the quality of the audio system, yet we weren’t even allowed to test it. All we can tell you for now is that there are 19 standard speakers for a true surround sound experience.

Optionally, the company will fit a 36-speaker stereo inside the big SUV, with real-time noise compensation and 360-degree sound capability similar to a recording studio, apparently.

The new 2021 Cadillac Escalade will go on sale this fall. Canadian pricing has yet to be announced, though it will likely be higher than the outgoing model’s base MSRP of $87,698.

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