Imposing and statutory, the Cadillac Escalade alone represents all the American excess, if only by its size. With a little less than 5.5 meters long, 1.95 meters high and 2,515 kg on the scale, we are far from a subcompact!
If it imposes it physically, it is also and above all the quality of the work provided by Cadillac that impresses. To be convinced, all you have to do is enter the passenger compartment, and measure the gap created by the new Escalade compared to its predecessor.
Once the large door is open and their feet are on the retractable step, the driver discovers a beautifully designed interior. Forget about hard plastics and cheap Escalade sold in the 2000s. The 2021 vintage offers a nicely designed interior with very pleasant materials, both to the eye and to the touch.
Thanks to its new 38-inch curved screen, the Escalade is even more tech-savvy. The display quality is superb, the controls are simple to use and the instrument cluster that faces the driver even has a front camera and night vision system (optional). What more?
Even more spacious
Thanks to the rear axle with new independent suspension, Cadillac was able to lower the floor and increase interior space. Two adults under 6 feet can now comfortably use the third row, which was not the case with the previous model. Especially since the softness of the seat and the backrest is also satisfactory.
In the second row, the captain’s seats fitted in our test vehicle were comfortable and there was ample space. Finally, two large screens (whose definition is superb) allow occupants to be entertained if they find the time long.
The front seats, heated, ventilated and well designed, provide sufficient support and adequately protect the driver and passenger. As you can see, no matter where you sit, all the seats are comfortable and allow you to plan long journeys without fear. Especially since a massage function is even offered at the front!
The trunk, whose rear window can be opened independently of the tailgate, offers a capacity of 722 liters behind the third row of seats and 2,064 liters once the latter is folded down. And if you want to lower all the seats, the total volume rises to 3426 liters! Enough to make you a person in high demand in removals, even if the loading threshold, rather high, requires a grip to accommodate heavy objects.
Photo: Frédéric Mercier
A powerful V8… and greedy!
Under the hood of our test model is a 6.2-liter V8 engine, used with several General Motors vehicles. In this configuration, it develops 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. On the road, this block achieves convincing performance and astonishing acceleration considering the 2,515 kg empty that must be moved.
However, the Escalade does not escape the laws of physics and these good performances are obviously paid at the pump. During our week of testing, we were never able to drop below 14 L / 100 km under ideal conditions, and that figure climbed to 20 L / 100 km when driving around town. At the end of our week of testing, we noted an inglorious average of 18.5 L / 100 km.
If you drive a lot, the option of the 6-cylinder 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine could be interesting, since its official fuel consumption is 10.6 L / 100 km compared to 14.8 L / 100 km for the gasoline engine. The power is obviously lower (277 horsepower), however the maximum torque, identical to the V8 but available at 1,500 rpm instead of 4,100 rpm, should allow adequate acceleration to be maintained.
On the dynamic capacity side, progress is also notable. The new rear axle developed by GM significantly improves handling. Firmly on its suspensions, the Escalade manages not to make its heavy weight felt too much. It is only on mountain roads that you really feel the large mass of the vehicle, the rapid changes of direction not really being its strong point. That said, Cadillac still offers a good dynamic compromise without sacrificing comfort.
The ride quality is also worth highlighting. High on its legs, the Escalade plays with the potholes and holes that line Quebec’s roads without any difficulty. Tested during a big winter storm, the Cadillac SUV proved to be safe in all circumstances. And once you get to your destination, there’s no need to shovel your parking space before entering it. A snow bank? What snowbank?
Once on the expressway, the big Escalade flaunts its excellent motorway qualities. Sitting at a height, and comfortably protected from external aggressions, the driver sees the kilometers go by without feeling the slightest fatigue. The very good soundproofing, despite its not very aerodynamic shape, is also a strong point, regardless of the road conditions or the force of the wind.
Photo: Julien Amado
Convincing, but not cheap!
We can only applaud the work Cadillac has done in the full-size SUV category. While the Escalade was still defending itself very well before this redesign, this new version is indisputably at the top of its segment.
On the other hand, all these qualities are rather expensive. With a starting price of $ 92,248, the bill is still steep. And if you go for the ESV version with the extended wheelbase, it will cost at least $ 105,248.
Photo: Frédéric Mercier
Our test model, a Sport Platinum version equipped with optional 22-inch rims, a refrigerator under the center armrest and night vision, cost $ 127,268!
Although it shares its platform and some engines with the GMC Yukon and the Chevrolet Suburban, the Cadillac Escalade stands out enough not to be called a Chevrolet in Sundays. The quality of its interior and its on-board technology sufficiently differentiate it from its two cousins. But do you really need it?
In video: Antoine Joubert presents the Cadillac Escalade 2021