The Cadillac Escalade has long been a status symbol of the rich and famous. It debuted in 1999 and has improved with every subsequent release. That means the 2021 model kicks up the luxuriousness to greater heights than ever. This huge truck-based SUV has never been more spacious, stylish, or coveted. But it begs the question: How far is too far?
The Cadillac Escalade has provided luxury transport for 2 decades
The Cadillac Escalade’s earliest versions earned some criticism from consumers. According to Automobile Magazine, Cadillac rushed to make the first generation as it became desperate to meet the growing luxury SUV demand. Many shoppers thought the offering was just the GMC Denali in new packaging, making the Escalade pale compared to other brands’ better-established models.
Though the 1999 and 2000 releases may have been dismissed as mere placeholders, the second generation put on a much more impressive show. Money Inc notes Cadillac’s follow-up attempt at the Escalade “predicated [its] ascension to the SUV Hall of Fame.” Indeed, the first vehicle in Gen 2’s lineup, released for the 2002 model year, showcased features that would become iconic to the brand.
Though the first Escalade models were five-seaters, the second generation made a giant leap to eight. With each passing model year, details like Bulgari clocks, satellite radio, and ultra-luxurious trims helped the Escalade find a niche and plenty of fans.
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade is bigger and bolder than ever
Fast-forward to 2021, and the Escalade isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. With an optional 6.2-liter V8 engine harnessing 420 hp and a maximum towing capacity of 8,200 pounds, the Escalade is no longer about only status but also true power. It’s no wonder sites like MotorTrend can’t resist declaring it “braggadocious” and “baller.”
The 2021 Escalade boasts an optional 36-speaker audio system and plenty of leg space, even in the third row. To accommodate all of this awesomeness, it’s an absolute hulk of a vehicle. Even without upgrading to the supersized ESV, you can expect vastly different handling from what you’d get with a smaller vehicle.
That factor, along with some critiques about the Escalade’s uncomfortable seats, might make driving this SUV far from a relaxing experience — despite the luxury price tag. As MotorTrend put it: It’s “not for the bashful.”
It’s the most ‘Escalade-y’ Escalade yet
Those who feel ready to take on this behemoth will enjoy Cadillac’s latest and greatest amenities. The Escalade packs plenty of features enhancing safety and swag, from seven airbags to a 38-inch curved OLED display. The technology capabilities might make owners feel as if they’ve driven onto the set of a sci-fi movie. Navigation instructions come with a live view of the street, and parking is a breeze with many assists and cameras.
Of course, there’s still room for improvement. The flashy infotainment system fails to disguise the Escalade’s faults, like its fuel economy (around 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway). Still, the 2021 release proves Cadillac remains dedicated to perfecting its largest SUV. We can only imagine what the next model year will bring.