2021 Is a Return to Form for the Cadillac Escalade

The SUV market is flooded with great cars, so it’s hard to pick out which one is the best. Each year, MotorTrend tries to make the decision easier by narrowing down the best new SUVs on the market. There were a lot of great contenders this year, one of the most notable being the 2021 Cadillac Escalade.

The Cadillac Escalade has been one of the most popular luxury SUVs for many years. However, it failed to place on MotorTrend’s Best SUV list of 2020. With its new powertrain additions and a complete interior overhaul, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade had no problems making the list this year.

What qualifies as SUV of the Year material?

To be known as the best car in its segment, the vehicle has to meet specific standards set by MotorTrend. The overall styling is judged, including the quality of the materials used for the interior. The interior is also thoroughly examined to determine how well it can accommodate both its passengers and their cargo.

Each car also has to be true to form and do its job correctly. For example, a large luxury SUV like the Escalade needs to have a fancy interior, plenty of space, and a smooth ride. The vehicles are also judged by their crash tests, gas mileage, and value for the price.

Other contenders for this year

Last year, the Kia Telluride took home the gold as MotorTrend’s Best SUV of 2020. The Telluride was absent this year, outranked by several luxury models like the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class and BMW X6. Some affordable alternatives also made the list, including the Chevy Trailblazer and all-new Hyundai Venue.

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade made into MotorTrend’s final selection, along with the Genesis GV80 and Kia Seltos. MotorTrend named the Land Rover Defender as the best of them all, with a perfect balance of great performance and design. Even though the Escalade wasn’t the best SUV, it still managed to distinguish itself as a strong competitor.

The best things about the 2021 Cadillac Escalade

RELATED: You Should Buy These Luxury SUVs If You Want More Cargo Space

The Cadillac Escalade’s interior has always been very impressive, the fine details are especially apparent in the latest model. The dashboard and steering wheel is covered in leather, and the accents of aluminum provide a nice contrast. The soft, woven fabric used for the door inserts and other cabin components is subtle but definitely not unappreciated.

All but the base trim receives real leather upholstery. All the seats are supportive and come with lavish comfort options. The third row is still too tight for adults during long trips, but the longer-wheelbase model eliminates that issue.

One of MotorTrend’s favorite things about the 2021 Cadillac Escalade is its large digital display. The touchscreen interface is over three feet long, controlling both the infotainment system and the gauge cluster. The graphics are extremely crisp and there’s no delay between inputs. 

The Cadillac Escalade also comes standard with a top-of-the-line 19-speaker stereo system and you can sync music from your smart device. Two more 12-inch touchscreen displays are optional for backseat riders.

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade still isn’t perfect

Despite the impeccable quality of the Cadillac Escalade’s interior, MotorTrend staff still managed to find some mismatched Chevy parts in the cabin. The latest Escalade is supposedly more fuel-efficient than the outgoing model, but it performed poorly in MotorTrend’s testing. The Escalade also rides rough over bumpy pavement.

However, at around $87,000 for the base model, MotorTrend still gave the Escalade points for being a good value. If the ride quality gets some polish, it might be able to achieve MotorTrend’s Best SUV status in the future. As it is, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade is still a great luxury SUV.