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2021 Cadillac Escalade | Reigning Three-Row Luxury SUV Leads With Progressive Design and Tech-Focused Cabin

Photos and words by Atif Kazmi for Por Homme

With  all the great SUV’s that have come out in recent years, most aren’t able to deliver a true third-row experience. Even when many tack on a third row to appease those looking to seat seven passengers, they’re still only building a cabin suited for the front 5. With the 2021 Cadillac Escalade, we’re looking at a large SUV that continues to get it right but has taken a leap with its new exterior design and completely refreshed cabin. We recently spent time with the all-new SUV to see if the American icon stuck the landing. 

I remember seeing the Escala at one the auto shows a few years back. As a concept, it was the one Cadillac everyone wished would become a reality. And though it hasn’t, much of the elements we loved about the sedan are starting to trickle into the new Cadillac stable, the new Escalade included. The horizontal headlamps alongside tall, thin daytime running lamps wrap perfectly around the iconic Chevron grille, giving the Escalade an upright, confident stance. Our test vehicle came with an all-black finish, grille and outline of the wheel spokes included. We’ve seen it spec’d a few different ways now but something about a blacked out Escalade that just never goes out of style. 

As big of a footprint as the 2021 Escalade has, it’s just easy. Keyless entry auto locks and unlocks as you get closer while the choreography in the tail lamps help to welcome the owner. Step to the back and there’s actually no handle on the lift gate. Instead, the crest can be pressed to open the rear lid, making for an extremely minimal yet convenient execution. 

Step inside the most advanced Escalade cabin ever and you’re met with that same attention to detail. Beautiful lighting helps to light up the cabin at night. The 3-panel, curved system we saw in the Escala concept has been translated here into the first curved OLED display in the industry, giving us a 38 inches of total diagonal display. It’s got twice the pixel density of a 4K TV and though it’s wrapped in leather, the OLED itself is only as thick as a piece of paper. The digital cluster is customizable and can give a standard gauge view but also display night vision, your navigation or go full augmented reality with active route assistance overlaid. 

There’s also a slew of more subtle improvements, including the positioning of mic’s to be right above the driver and front passenger.  This will hopefully enhance the bluetooth conversations you’re having. Vehicle noise compensation helps to increase the volume in the cabin to drown out common road distractions. The front passenger now has dedicated volume control, allowing them to take control of their own audio experience. With sound being such an integral part of the new Escalade’s cabin experience, they’ve partnered with AKG to introduce a 36-speaker system. The headrests get speakers while stainless steel speaker grills blend well with the rest of the cabin. There’s a large forward extension panel on the Platinum trim and if you look closer, you’ll see the etching and perforation pattern varies left to right. 

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade brings with it a heightened experience for the rear cabin as well. There’s 40% more legroom, with over 10 inches more for those in the third row when compared to the outgoing model. The second row seats slide so you can adjust further. The rear seat entertainment system features two HDMI’s for two unique experiences. You can screen share with one another, right through the touchscreens. USB and HDMI are both supported, giving them more options on what to watch. But how the rear passengers can now communicate with the front infotainment is one of our favorite features in this new Escalade. Want to help guide the night? Search for points of interests from your screen in the back and send it to the front to be accepted or declined by the driver. 

The new-generation Escalade also features improvements to its ride quality and handling. New independent rear suspension comes with a lowered floor, making for a smoother ride, great control and comfort. Potholes and bumpy city streets don’t seem to throw off this 6,000-pound SUV, which might be in part due to just how fast the suspension is scanning the road and adjusting to all that’s ahead. Power comes from a 6.2-liter V8 that delivers 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, making for a smooth escape. If you’re worried about MPG’s, the new Escalade does feature dynamic fuel management to selectively activate 2 to 8 cylinders depending on your driving. 

Recent months and years have brought near-overhauls of memorable brands like the G-Wagon, Defender, Bronco, and even Hummer. Some struck the balance between their storied pasts and how they’d evolve to the times while others haven’t. With the Escalade brand, Cadillac’s aiming to continuing doing what it does best and still be able to innovate and push the boundaries through new technology, more comfort and design details that turn the heads of loyalists and new fans alike. 

See more of the 2021 Cadillac Escalade in the gallery and head to your local Cadillac showroom to experience it in person. 

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