The 2021 Cadillac Escalade ESV Makes You Pay Extra for a Feature You’d Expect

If you were asked to consider which SUV is the biggest and most luxurious on the market today, you would probably think about the Cadillac Escalade ESV as a worthy member of the group. This extended version of the popular gold-standard behemoth tends to set the bar high in materials, technology, and performance capability. Cadillac usually subscribes to the “go big, or go home” mantra when it comes to equipping the Escalade. So, when the specs came out for the new 2021 model, many were surprised that one more basic offering isn’t a standard across all trim levels. This one feature that you’d expect will cost you extra.

It’s still an impressive Cadillac SUV

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade ESV is fully redesigned this time around, and there are tons of extras. This year’s version offers more space for rear-seated passengers. There are more driver aids, including Cadillac’s own, Super Cruise. There is an optional diesel engine, and the interior components and design are among the best in this class. This new SUV screams high-tech luxury and is a supersized version of upscale excellence. Well, except for one missing standard feature.

Leatherette is not the same as leather

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade ESV might have the most impressive roster of features, but it may be cutting at least one corner. At the entry-level variation, the SUV features leatherette materials and not authentic leather. It might seem like a trivial difference. However, there is a clear distinction, especially when you’re talking about luxury vehicle materials.

Leather is one of the most luxurious fabrics in the world and usually comes at a higher cost to manufactures, considering its source and processing. It’s cheaper to produce leatherette, and the quality deficiency is evident. So, for Cadillac to not include the best seating materials as an entry-level standard, it can be a bit surprising. To get authentic leather, you’ll have to pay extra and upgrade trim levels.

What the leather upgrade for your Cadillac Escalade will cost you

The base-level trim for the 2021 Cadillac Escalade ESV will set you back $77,490. And it’s a hefty price tag for faux-leather materials. According to Car and Driver, if you want the premium leather in your new SUV, you’ll have to bump up to the Premium Luxury trim and pay $84,290. The next levels will all have that leather you’re looking for, and of course, you’ll have to pay for each bump in amenities. The Sport costs $86,890, the Platinum and Platinum Sport versions run between $93,950 and $101,290.

The Cadillac Escalade’s robust list of standard equipment

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With MSRPs this high, you’re, of course, getting a robust list of amenities beyond the leather interiors. Some of the other best-of-the-best equipment includes a heated steering wheel, the standard 20-speaker audio platform, and the semi-autonomous Super Cruise. You will even have an augmented-reality navigation and available night-vision views. Under the hood, you’ll enjoy a massive 6.2-liter V8 engine and 420 hp too.

Picture a curved OLED display that sprawls across much of the dash. Within this clean layout are three screens. One 14.2-inch screen features the gauges. A second 16.9-inch screen is home to the infotainment controls, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And the third is a 7.2-inch display for the driver to view trip information, controls, and night vision views.

It’s a little surprising that Cadillac opted to equip the base-level Cadillac Escalade ESV with a leather alternative. You might assume at the Cadillac level of amenities that even the entry model would come with the best of the best. You’ll just have to pay extra if you want real leather in your 2021 model, though. But in the end, if you’re ready to invest in even the base model MSRP, a few extra thousand to bump up trim levels probably won’t matter much.