2021 Cadillac Escalade 4WD Premium Luxury

Could claim the "flagship American luxury vehicle" title
April 10, 2021 Updated: April 10, 2021

This Escalade is powered by a 6.2L V8 engine pushing up to 420-horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque through a 10-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for the AWD model is listed at 14 mpg city and 19 mpg highway for a combined average of 16 mpg. However, on a recent 600-mile journey I netted 24 mpg combined.

There is also a 3.0L turbo diesel engine available for the same price. This turbo engine cranks out 277 horsepower, which is a bit lower than the NA V8, but you get 460 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 RPM instead of the V8’s 4,100 RPM.

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Also available with a 3.0L turbo diesel engine. (Courtesy of Cadillac)

The interior of the Escalade reminds me of a luxurious limousine. The entire cabin is quite comfortable, presenting impressive quality materials and attention to details.

The quality of the leather and lovely wood trim elevate the rich looks of the interior.

Mulan leather seating includes heated and vented front seats, second row heated bucket seats with power release, and third row 60/40-split power-folding bench seating. The front occupant are pampered with 12-way power adjustment and lumbar support.

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Sliding second row seats. (Courtesy of Cadillac)

The new redesigned second row seats make it easier to get in and out of the third-row split-bench.

The 16.9-inch infotainment screen with navigation and voice recognition, runs right up to the 14.2-inch reconfigurable cluster display, which is further joined to the 7.2-inch control panel. Altogether they form a 38.0-inch overall OLED display. It starts at the driver’s door and extends down the dashboard to just past the middle.

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The front dash with 3 displays combined into a 38-inch display. (Courtesy of Cadillac)

Information like date, time, miles traveled and remaining, plus more are all displayed and easily read.

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7.2-inch control panel just by the driver’s door. (Courtesy of Cadillac)

Buttons and control knob are easily located and their functions are well defined, and the touchscreen is easy to use as well.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported by the above-mentioned OLED infotainment system. Head-Up Display and Rear Camera Mirror add a layer of safety while panoramic power sunroof connects with the outside world.

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14.2-inch cluster display. (Courtesy of Cadillac)

Tri-zone automatic climate control, ambient interior lighting with 8 color options, and AKG Studio Reference 36-speaker premium audio system ($4,300) let the occupants bask in luxury and decadence.

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16.9-inch infotainment system display. (Courtesy of Cadillac)

Outside, the Escalade rests on 22-inch 14-spoke alloy wheels with polished finish. My Escalade had a Shadow Metallic exterior and a Parchment with Jet Black Accents interior.

Safety and Security features were in abundance. Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking, Front and Rear Parking Alert, HD Surround Vision, and Rear Pedestrian Alert are all standard even on the base Luxury model. Stepping up to the Premium Luxury trim would add Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Enhanced Automatic Parking Assist, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, and Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning.

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Center console. (Courtesy of Cadillac)

The MSRP for the 2021 Cadillac Escalade starts at $76,195 for the Luxury trim. Moving one up to the Premium Luxury model and the sticker price goes up to 82,995. The range-topping Premium Luxury Platinum and Sport Platinum models start at $99,995.

There are over $19,000 in optional features on the test Escalade. They include a $2,795 Performance Upgrade Package and a $1,995 Rear Seat Entertainment System.

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Mulan leather seating. (Courtesy of Cadillac)

Cadillac Escalade is a beautiful and wonderful car to drive, but its size can make it awkward when trying to park or getting around small city roads or rural roadways. Mileage is also not that good. Then there is the price, which can be beyond most people’s means. My house purchased twenty five years ago cost less than the total cost of this Escalade I recently drove.

But the rich good looks and advanced technology showcase a vehicle that is purchased in abundance and has many suitors.

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Further evolved Cadillac signature vertical tail lights. (Courtesy of Cadillac)

Escalade holds the road well, seemingly smoothing out all but the largest bumps. All the technology works instantly and they are at your fingertips, requiring little effort of motion from the most comfortable seating. The cabin is quiet and roomy while the air is filled with the loveliest sounds. Especially when the AKG audio system features an orchestra playing.

In 1999, stiff competition from Land Rover and Mercedes caused Cadillac to declare economic war on them by developing a competitive vehicle that is big, expensive, high-performance, and technologically advanced. Thus the Escalade.

There was a technique used in ancient warfare to scale a defender’s walls or ramparts by use of ladders or siege towers. The process was called Escalade.

4 years/50,000 miles Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty
6 years/70,000 miles Powertrain Limited Warranty
6 years/70,000 miles Roadside Assistance Program

Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this newspaper or durhlcaussey@gmail.com.