The 2021 Cadillac Escalade Ignores Its ‘Industrial’ Third Row

The Cadillac Escalade helped establish the three-row luxury SUV class and has become a pop culture icon over the years. This full-size SUV packs cutting-edge technology and luxury features. But there’s one area that’s lacking.

Anyone riding in the Escalade’s third row will find it a little neglected. Here’s a look at the luxury features in the 2021 Cadillac Escalade and its less-than-luxe third row.

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade’s tech features

MotorTrend says the 2021 Cadillac Escalade has “GM’s latest and greatest technologies.” Redesigned for 2021, the “fifth-generation Escalade is easily the most impressive in the model’s 22-year history,” MotorTrend reports. The Escalade rides on the same platform and powertrains as the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and the GMC Yukon, but this is the model year when the Escalade has diverged significantly from its siblings. The Escalade also now has a MagneRide/air suspension combination, improving its ride and handling.

Also, three large curved OLED driver displays are leather-wrapped and cover 38 diagonal inches. A small touchscreen appears to the instrument cluster’s left, providing a map and augmented reality navigation. The OLED displays have “twice the pixel density of a 4K TV,” Cadillac explains, offering clear, crisp images. “This is Star Trek stuff in a car,” MotorTrend features editor Scott Evans marvels.

The Escalade also boasts Super Cruise, a hands-free driver-assistance feature for use on certain roads. And it includes a new “lane-change on-demand” function. It also has a standard 19-speaker audio system, but a 36-speaker system is available. The rear-seat entertainment system lets passengers play content from their devices on 12.6-inch touchscreens mounted on the front seatbacks.

Plus, a night-vision view is available for the instrument cluster. It uses thermal heat images to show pedestrians or large animals that are beyond the headlights’ reach. The Escalade also has a full-color head-up display and microphones to enhance communication within the cavernous SUV. And all trims have wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, device charging, and a 360-degree parking camera, MotorTrend reports. A digital rearview mirror is available on higher trims.

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade’s luxury amenities

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade has plenty of luxury amenities and a spacious interior. In fact, adults can comfortably ride in the second- and third-row seats. But despite the redesign and upgrades, the Escalade still shares several parts with its GM cousins.

However, the Escalade features the high-quality materials and finishes expected in a luxury vehicle. It sports natural wood finishes, hand-finished leather, and premium fabrics. For comfort, it offers available 16-way power-adjustable driver and front-passenger heated and ventilated seats. Plus, there are massage settings. And ambient lighting lets the driver set the mood with eight color options. A panoramic sunroof is also available.

The neglected third row


The Cadillac Escalade Made a Big Comeback in 2020

Despite all the 2021 Cadillac Escalade’s bells and whistles, the third row appears ignored. The material quality isn’t as excellent in the third row.

“Although it’s clear that GM invested a lot in its new tech toys, Cadillac bought beer when it should’ve been buying bread,” MotorTrend aptly said. “For example, there’s a notable drop-off in material quality that isn’t seen in the other competitors when you look below your beltline and start making your way to the third row.”

MotorTrend executive editor Mac Morrison added, “The luxury tends to extend to the front of the cabin, not the rear. In the back, it feels a little more industrial and like a work truck.”

Though the redesigned 2021 Cadillac Escalade has plenty of pros — from high-tech features to luxury amenities — the third row isn’t as stellar. It might seem “industrial,” but at least it offers enough space for teens and adults to ride there comfortably.