If I told you that SUVs could be ridiculously expensive, it would be like telling you water is wet. However, within this price lunacy, there are various levels. The full-size SUV segment is perhaps the most diverse in the industry. Prices start as low as $40,000 for a Buick Enclave and quickly skyrocket to $330,000 for a Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Today we’re looking at the newest versions of two of the best-sellers, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade and the 2021 Chevy Tahoe.
Despite sharing the same basic architecture and powertrain, the Cadillac commands a $28,000 premium. So let’s find out which of these two luxurious American giants is worth your hard-earned dollars.
Styling: the truck-like Chevy Tahoe vs. the classy Cadillac Escalade
Both the Cadillac Escalade and the Chevy Tahoe utilize GM’s GMT1XX platform as their base. This platform also underpins the likes of the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra. In the case of the Tahoe, its designers took heavy inspiration from its truck sibling and gave it a very similar front grille. The grille extends into the headlights and makes the front-end look huge.
In contrast, the Cadillac Escalade has a slightly less than enormous grille with sharper lines. There are no intricate designs, only mesh with a sizeable Cadillac logo in the center. The result is that while not understated by any means, the Escalade carries a classier look and has the added benefit of not looking like a pickup truck.
Along the sides, these SUVs look nearly identical. If you were to spot their side profile on the road, it would be fairly difficult to tell them apart. Yes, the Cadillac adds a bit of chrome here and there, but there are no significant details here.
It is a similar story in the rear-end, with the Escalade’s long taillights being the real differentiator. One added benefit of the Chevy Tahoe is that it offers an optional quad-exhaust setup. While this is largely for looks, it serves to spice up the rear bumper with a sporty touch.
Performance: they’re pretty much identical
While the difference in styling could definitely sway your purchasing decision, the performance most likely will not. The Cadillac Escalade comes standard with a 6.2-liter V8 producing 420 hp. The Chevy Tahoe offers the same engine with the added benefit of a smaller 5.3-liter V8 producing 355 hp for less money.
The wildcard in both models is a 3.0-liter turbo diesel engine with 460 lb-ft of torque. Although it is not currently available in the Tahoe, it will arrive before the end of 2020, according to GM Authority. Both engine options come equipped with a 10-speed automatic transmission, which should help these massive SUVs feel quick.
Like with everything else, these SUVs share a new independent rear suspension architecture. They also feature Magnetic Ride Control with Adaptive Air Ride suspension. This suspension system allows these massive land-yachts to scan the road ahead and adjust the suspension accordingly to improve ride quality.
It is important to note that these systems are available in the Tahoe but come standard in the Escalade. However, like you’d expect, the Cadillac has a significantly higher starting price.
Interior: The Escalade is on a whole other level
If up to this point these SUVs seem similarly matched despite the $28,000 difference, that’s because they are. Once we turn to the interior, however, the price difference becomes very clear. The Cadillac Escalade’s cabin is basically a sea of screens.
The centerpiece of the interior is a 16.9-inch OLED infotainment screen. To the left of the driver, there is a 7.2-inch control panel and a 14.2-inch digital instrument cluster upfront. Instead of placing the screens directly side by side, Cadillac opted to layer them on top of one another, creating a sleek look.
In contrast, the Chevy Tahoe is stuck with analog gauges and a 10.2-inch infotainment screen. On its own, the Tahoe doesn’t look half bad. The screen is of a decent size, and the gauges feature a tiny screen between them. However, then placed next to the Cadillac, it’s a whole different story. While the Tahoe appears like an evolution over the previous-gen, the Escalade jumps straight into the future.
Given that the interior is where you spend all of your time driving, this is the most crucial element. If we ignore the interior, the choice is obvious, opt for the Tahoe and pocket the extra cash. However, once the Escalade’s interior comes into the mix, it’s hard to lust after the Tahoe. To answer the original question, yes, the Escalade is absolutely worth it’s premium. However, that is not to discount the Tahoe since both of these are excellent full-size SUVs.