There are a ton of superb SUVs available, and for a short stint, the Escalade seemed to be forgotten as Cadillac expanded its core lineup to have new offerings in just about every segment of the luxury vehicle landscape.
Now, the automaker is returning to its pride and joy, the Escalade: a nameplate that’s as important as the whole brand.
Indeed, just about every aspect of the new Escalade is impressive. A few key highlights stand out as more than just a halo product for the brand—but a benchmark for the entire industry.
While automakers are all trying to sort out the logistics of automated driving, Cadillac has gone and done it. Super Cruise is a semi-autonomous hands-free driving assistance system. Optimized for the highway, the car will continue your route for you by following the road, adjusting for traffic and even changing lanes as needed. You can take your hands off the wheel, but your eyes stay on the road, as a driver-facing camera ensures that you are paying attention. This is a safety measure that few other vehicles have.
The Escalade features the very first organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display. This curved display spans 38 inches and has twice the pixel density of a 4K TV. As a result, the images and text are extremely crisp and easy to read in all kinds of light conditions. There is a small touch-sensitive screen to the left of the gauge cluster for trip information, a bright customizable digital gauge cluster, and a large touch screen for infotainment functions.
Augmented Reality Navigation
The display can show different layouts for different situations (night vision or navigation), but one of the coolest features is the augmented reality navigation system. This uses the front-facing camera display to show a feed of an upcoming turn and overlays the navigation instructions over top of the actual video feed. This will make navigating unknown streets a far less stressful and less distracting experience.
The AKG-branded sound system has a few unique tricks up its speaker grilles. Charmingly, the sound system will provide navigation instructions in a context-sensitive way while you’re driving: instructions to turn left will be heard on the left side of the vehicle, while directions to turn right will be played through the right side. Additionally, prompts will be heard further away and will sound closer as you drive toward the destination.
The AKG sound system features 19 speakers, including one on the dashboard, which has a lens fitted to it, so it can curve the sound to the driver instead of hitting the windshield and distorting the noise.
As with every new generation product, the new Escalade is bigger in just about every way. Third-row passengers are treated to 10.4 inches of additional legroom compared to the previous model, and there is now 80 per cent more cargo room behind the third row than before. Thank Cadillac’s decision to use an independent rear suspension system this time around for these increases.
Magnetic Ride Control and air suspension
Magnetic Ride Control features technology that adjusts to the road conditions to provide the smoothest ride possible. At highway speeds, the system adjusts for every inch travelled. In addition to the magnetic ride control, the Escalade features adaptive air suspension which features 101.6 millimetres of total travel, with higher ride heights for off-road conditions and lower heights for loading cargo and passengers.
Trailering package and technology
Many Escalades eventually get called in for trailer duty, and Cadillac has turned the rugged experience into a breeze with its new trailering package that’s loaded with technology. It offers nine camera views, including a reverse trajectory view for backing up with a trailer, as well as an extended side blind zone warning, a trailering light test, trailer tire pressure monitor, and integration with the myCadillac app for theft warning and different trailer profiles.
It used to be easy to overlook the Escalade, as other luxury SUVs were introduced with more features and technology. However, the 2021 model seems to be setting the benchmark in many ways. Expect it to arrive later this summer.
Never miss a story. Sign up for NUVO’s weekly newsletter here.