Six years on from the fourth-generation model, the perennial celebrity’s favourite full-size SUV has been updated with the arrival of the 2021 Cadillac Escalade. The fifth-generation Escalade shares its platform with its General Motors stablemates, the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe as well as the GMC Yukon.
Two wheelbase lengths are available; 3,071 mm for the standard Escalade and 3,407 mm for the Escalade ESV, with overall lengths at 5,382 mm and 5,766 mm respectively. Identical are the 2,059 mm widths and 1,737 mm/1,730 mm front and rear track widths, while the ESV is 1,942 mm tall, or 6 mm lower than the standard Escalade.
The new full-size SUV employs all-new independent rear suspension which supersedes the live axle layout of past Escalade models which promises a more refined ride, steering response and overall driver control, says Cadillac. The new rear suspension layout also allows for a lower interior floor which enables easier access to the second and third rows of seats, as well as a more natural seating position for third row occupants.
Legroom in the third row expands by 10 inches (254 mm) as a result, giving the new Escalade a third row that is among the roomiest in the segment, says Cadillac. Ride comfort is improved with the inclusion of adaptive air suspension that works together with Magnetic Ride Control, where automatic load-levelling and ride height adjustments are continuously applied on all four wheels; rolling stock is a set of 22-inch wheels with 275/50 tyres.
When driving on the highway, the suspension system lowers ride height for better aerodynamics. For manual control, the driver of the new Escalade can also select a setting to lower the suspension by 51 mm for easier entry and exit into and out of the vehicle, or conversely the Escalade can be lifted for increased ground clearance to handle rough terrain.
Motive power for the new, fifth-generation Escalade comes in the form of two engines: a 6.2 litre petrol V8 with 420 hp and 623 Nm of torque, and a 3.0 litre inline-six turbodiesel with 277 hp and an identical 623 Nm of torque. This is paired to the firm’s 10L80 10-speed automatic gearbox, and an available electronic limited-slip differential on the rear axle employs infinitely variable clutch engagement.
Advanced driver assistance systems come to the new Escalade in the form of Super Cruise, which enables hands-free driving on more than 320,000 km of compatible highways in the United States and Canada via the use of Lidar map data, high precision GPS, a driver attention monitoring system and a network of cameras and radar sensors.
The Super Cruise suite of driver assistance systems in the 2021 Escalade features automated lane change, which enables the driver to initiate a lane change manoevure by using the indicators in the direction of the desired lane change. The Escalade’s lane-keeping ability includes dynamic lane offset, which adjusts its position on the road within its lane for driver comfort when other vehicles are passing in close proximity.
The included driver attention system detects changes in driver behaviour and signals when its driver needs to pay more attention to the road. Additionally, the system informs the driver when Super Cruise driver assistance is not available in certain instances.
The richness of technology continues in the cabin of the new Escalade, where it uses an industry-first curved OLED display that measures more than 38 inches in total diagonal width, with ‘twice the pixel density of a 4K television’, says Cadillac. In its native left-hand drive layout, this is comprised of a 7.2-inch touch control panel driver information centre to the driver’s left-hand side, a 14.2-inch main instrumentation display and a 16.9-inch infotainment screen at the centre of the dashboard.
The visual quality of the OLED panels eliminates the need for a conventional shroud around the display, thus creating a brighter and less cluttered environment within the Escalade cabin, says Cadillac. Visual feed is complemented by augmented reality-enabled navigation, which uses live street-view overlays for improvedd driving directions; a 2MP bird’s-eye view from four exterior cameras, a rear camera mirror and night vision.
For the second row, rear seat entertainment comes courtesy of two 12.6-inch touchscreens that incorporates navigation as well as streaming capability for games, music and videos via HDMI and USB inputs. With the ability to mirror Android-based smartphones, the rear passengers’ screens can also ‘send’ destination suggestions to the front navigation screen, for the driver to accept or decline.
The Escalade’s sound system continues the theme of extravagance. Cadillac’s latest SUV brings sound systems from audio specialists AKG into an automobile for the first time, says the company. A standard, AKG Studio Sound 19-speaker system with an enclosed subwoofer is powered by a 14-channel amplifier, while the top-shelf Studio Reference system brings 36 speakers powered by three amplifiers for 28 channels of audio.
A 3D Surround configuration capitalises on the multitude of speakers, while audio rendering whilst using the navigation system follows the directional prompts and moves the sound closer to the driver as the vehicle approaches each turn. For enhancement of conversation between occupants in the Escalade, and likely to underscore the vastness of the SUV, embedded microphones capture speech and transmit voices to where occupants are within the vehicle.
Depending on which of the five trim levels are chosen, the Escalade interior is upholstered with either leatherette, Mulan leather or in the higher trim levels, Opus semi-aniline leather for the firs and second rows with Mulan leather for the third row. For mobile devices, wireless device charging and near-field communication phone pairing is standard across all trim variants.
The 2021 model-year Cadillac Escalade goes on sale late this year in North America, and is manufactured in General Motors’ assembly plant in Arlington, Texas. Pricing has yet to be announced, though this will be released closer to its market debut.
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