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10 Things to Know about the New 2021 Cadillac Escalade

Auto123 headed to the City of Angels to meet not just Spike Lee but also the redesigned 2021 Cadillac Escalade

Los Angeles, CA - The first Escalade that was introduced by Cadillac back in 1999 was actually not much more than a spruced-up Chevrolet Tahoe. Over time, the two models, while still blood brothers, grew more distant from each other. The Escalade became the admiral ship of the Cadillac lineup, and it continues to play that role as its redesigned 2021 edition debuts ahead of its arrival at dealerships at the end of summer 2020.

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Photo: B.Charette
Photo: B.Charette

As we met the new Escalade in the company of actor-director Spike Lee, we came up with 10 things you want/need to know about the big luxury SUV:

1 - OLED Technology

Here is the centerpiece of the vehicle: OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode or a curved screen with an organic light emitting diode. In simpler terms, it's a curved screen offers twice the pixel density of a 4K TV. The technology delivers images of unprecedented clarity.

Photo: Cadillac

The system consists of three screens: a 7.2-inch diagonal driver information screen on the control panel, a 14.2-inch diagonal screen behind the steering wheel and a 16.9-inch diagonal infotainment screen. The system’s screens are no thicker than a sheet of paper and the curvature positions the screens for optimal visibility. This is a first in the industry.

Photo: Cadillac

A mix of electronic controls and switches ensures intuitive use of the vehicle's features. The OLED display includes a touchscreen control for the central display, while the interior also includes a full-function rotary controller and steering wheel-mounted controls. Additional features include stainless steel speaker grilles, intricate piping on the door panels and ambient lighting with a wide range of colour choices.

Photo: Cadillac

2 - Augmented Reality Navigation System

Available as an option, this system allows, beyond the usual functions of a navigation system, a live view of the road in front of the vehicle that’s projected onto the central display, with turn signals and other directional information superimposed on the scene. It includes features such as direction-based audio guidance, so for example, a voice tells you to "turn left" through the left speakers to further emphasize navigation instructions - with the volume increasing as you approach the turn.

Photo: Cadillac

3 – Embedded microphones for improved internal communication

Also available on the options list if you choose the AKG Premium Sound System is an enhanced conversation system between occupants. Via the vehicle's network of 36 speakers, voices are captured by built-in microphones and reproduced in designated areas - so no one needs to raise their voice anymore.

4 – High-tech rear seat entertainment system

The new rear seat entertainment system includes a pair of independent 12.6-inch screens with navigation and which allow for playing games, music and videos via HDMI and USB inputs. The displays can also reproduce the screen of an Android smartphone. In addition, destination suggestions can be sent by rear passengers to the front navigation screen for the driver, who can – thankfully - accept or decline.

Photo: Cadillac

5 - Advanced Super Cruise Autonomous Driving

Developed in Canada and originally introduced in the Cadillac CT-6, the Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving system also helps the driver stay engaged by detecting and signaling when they need to pay more attention to the road.

Photo: Cadillac

Recent technological enhancements include Dynamic Lane Departure Warning, which can adjust the Escalade slightly in its lane for driver comfort when other vehicles pass by. There’s also automated lane changing, which will allow the driver to initiate a lane change using the flashing light to indicate the direction of the desired movement.

6 - AKG audio system

AKG was founded in Vienna in 1947 by physicist Dr. Rudolf Goerike and engineer Ernst Pless, and the company quickly became one of the leading sound technologies developers on the planet. 

As standard in the new Escalade, buyers get an AKG Studio system with 19 speakers, including a large closed subwoofer, powered by a 14-channel amplifier. As an option, the AKG Studio Reference system is available with 36 speakers powered by three amplifiers that deliver 28 channels, providing a incredibly clean listening experience.

Photo: Cadillac

7 - More room to move

Since its introduction, the Escalade has been built on a ladder chassis with a rigid rear axle and a third row more decorative (or at best good for small children) than useful. It took a long time, but GM has finally got it. With the introduction of an independent rear suspension, it was possible to install a flat floor in the third row and finally consider providing space for passengers who won't have their knees crowding in on their foreheads.

Photo: Cadillac

In addition, the new architecture and chassis technologies have significantly increased interior space, adding 40% more legroom to the third row and an 80% increase in maximum cargo space behind the third row in the standard length model. This is also due to a longer wheelbase and greater overall length, compared to the previous model. Legroom in the third row increases by more than 10 inches, giving the Escalade one of the most spacious third rows in the segment.

8 - Magnetic or air suspension

Cadillac's Magnetic Ride Control remains the core technology for this big SUV, but Cadillac is adding an optional new adaptive air suspension that combines with the magnetic ride control. The air suspension provides automatic load and ride height adjustment on all four wheels.

Photo: Cadillac

During highway driving, the system automatically lowers the ride height to improve aerodynamics, and a driver-selectable setting lowers the suspension by 2 inches (51 mm) to make it easier for passengers to get in and out of the vehicle when parked. Drivers can also raise the chassis for additional ground clearance when driving off-road.

9 - Optional Diesel Engine

For the first time ever, the Escalade is also available with an optional 3.0L Duramax turbodiesel engine that comes from, you guessed it, the Silverado. The numbers are exactly the same in fact: you get 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. The base offering remains the 6.2L V8 with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. 

Both engines are mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission with Electronic Shift Control.

Photo: B.Charette

10 - Easier towing

An available Towing Integration Package provides up to nine camera views (including rear camera guidance) to make hooking up a trailer easier. The package also includes an integrated trailer brake controller and towing application that provides trailer profiles, tire pressure and temperature monitoring and extended side blind zone alert. Very handy if you're towing bulky loads.

Photo: Cadillac
Photo: Cadillac
Photo: Cadillac
Photo: Cadillac