When the 2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum was delivered to my home, my first reaction was ‘Oh, boy. This is one big vehicle.’ And soon followed by asking if this is really a luxury vehicle. Nothing this big, I thought, could be a luxury vehicle.
Well, let’s get one thing straight right away. This fifth-generation Cadillac Escalade is a straight-up luxury vehicle, and it takes luxury to a whole new level. If one’s memory goes back to the late 1990s when the first Cadillac Escalade was introduced, this 2021 Cadillac Escalade sibling is heads-and-shoulders above its distant 90s brethren.
While the exterior has what some may call a distinctive truck look, a closer inspection finds that Cadillac has refined the lines to smooth them out. The LED vertical front and rear lights seem to be ‘organically’ part of the vehicle, and enhances the overall smart design. The front grille and lights gave a solid presence without being aggressive or overwhelming. And the 22-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels did not seem out of place, perfectly matched to the both the size and look of this Escalade, and visually firmly plant the vehicle to the ground.
It is obvious the designers put a lot of thought to how the 2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum wants to present itself. There is no mistaking this vehicle for anything else, for example, the 2021 GMC Yukon that is what most would wish to compare it against.
The real ‘ wow’ factor, however, comes when you open the door and sit down. Here Cadillac outdoes itself, as it takes interior luxury up several notches. It is quite obvious the interior design team wanted to send a message and that this Escalade is the equal to any luxury car brand out there. The one I drove came with full-leather front bucket seats with semi-aniline leather surfaces and with 18-way seat adjustment for both the driver and passenger. Included was heating and a massage function for both.
Behind these seats were two captain’s chairs and then a more traditional third-row 60/40-split seating. There was plenty of legroom throughout the whole vehicle so there should be no complaints from anyone about feeling cramped or boxed in. Cadillac claims this Escalade has 41 per cent more legroom than the previous version, and I believe it. The rear seats and the captain’s chairs can be dropped and stowed away with a press of a button located in the trunk area, and deployed again the same way.
Another nice touch is the climate control. It is a tri-zone system that offers individual climate settings for the driver, passenger and those sitting in the back, including rear air vents.
Because today phones are now coming equipped with wireless charging capabilities, Cadillac has included a wireless charger located in the console just in front of the bin lid. As well, this Escalade comes with wireless smartphone linking, so when you step into the vehicle, your phone will automatically link to the infotainment system.
So now, let’s talk for a moment about the infotainment system. What one gets is what Cadillac claims is the first curved 16.9-inch OLED 4K infotainment screen to be placed in a vehicle, one built right into the dashboard so that it seamlessly connects to a 14.2-inch digital instrument cluster and to ta 7.2-inch side touch screen for access to such functions as the heads-up display, augmented reality with an active route display that connects to the navigation system and night vision display. The central gauge view displays critical vehicle information without it ever seeming to be crowded or in too small a manner as to make it difficult to read.
While the sharpness of the infotainment screen was something to behold, I was glad to find that I could access functions with the large control knob located on the central console below the shifter. A quick turn of the knob or toggle allowed me to bring up Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or SiriusXM, for example. Do keep one thing in mind tough. If you are going to access such features by touch, fingerprints are going to show up. So you should probably keep a screen cleaning cloth handy.
An added bonus is the AKG Studio Reference audio system with 36 speakers. Does it sound amazing? Yes it does . . . and Schoenberg’s Moses Und Aron never sounded so good in a vehicle.
Passengers in the two captains chairs get access to their own infotainment screens. Included USB and HDMI ports will let them watch movies and listen to them through Bluetooth supported headphones. Be warned though, the screens gives one the ability to use the navigation function. My son was overjoyed that he could find where the nearest Starbucks was located on our road trip and from his screen send me a request to navigate to the location. It pops up on the infotainment system and you can accept or decline. The first couple of times it was fun . . . after the 10th request, not so much.
The tester I had came with a 6.2-litre V8 engine with Dynamic Fuel Management and Direct Injection and can put out a solid 420 hp with 460 lb-ft of torque. It proved more than capable of supplying all the power I needed, especially on the highway where I found the acceleration to be there when I put my foot down. Because of the size of the vehicle, don’t expect to be flying out of the stocks when you hit the gas when the light turns green, however, but I can assure you that you will get up to speed quick enough when driving the in the city. But be warned, the size and weight of this 2021 Cadillac Escalade means you are going through quite a bit of gas, especially in the city with stop-and-go traffic. But one the highway, I was able to get near the rated 12.4 l/100 km.
Like all vehicles today, you get a full-range of driver assistance and safety features, such as parking assist, blind-spot warnings, rear cross traffic and pedestrian alert and such. The adaptive cruise control worked like a charm. I was impressed that even as traffic began to get heavy the adaptive cruise control easily maintained safe driving distances and speeds, even as drivers turned into my lane. Over time, I grew confident enough to just let the system do its job without always wanting to put my foot on the brake each time I saw brake lights come on from others in front of me.
Simply, Cadillac has bought forward an impressive luxury vehicle that can now stand next to the best the competition has to offer, and worth every penny you will spend to acquire it.
The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.