[MUSIC PLAYING] CARLOS LAGO: The Escalade is one of the most iconic SUVs on the road today, and I'm really eager to get in this one because of all the stuff that's happening inside and underneath. Well, it's obviously bigger, and more capable, and more powerful, but it has a thoroughly modern suspension, and this really cool-looking entertainment display that's OLED. It also supports true hands-free driving, although this one doesn't. And we're going to see how it all comes together.
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Let's start off by talking about design, albeit briefly, because it's very subjective. I think this looks really cool. It manages to be bold but also somewhat kind of subtle. I know that's contradictory, but hey, it's an Escalade, so let's just run with it.
Now, under the hood of this one is a 6.2-liter V8. That'll be the engine powering most Escalades. Its 420 horse, 460 pound feet of torque. You can also opt for a 3-liter turbo diesel 6 cylinder that also makes 460 pound feet of torque. That's a no-cost option, which will be available later. That's nice. But as for the V8, that power figure and the fuel economy are a bit lower than what you'll find in the Lincoln Navigator, so you can only just brag about having two extra cylinders. Yeah.
Anyway, trim levels. The base price is $77,500 or thereabouts. Adding four-wheel drive is another $3,000. Adding the long wheelbase ESV variant is another $3,000. This is a top-of-the-line platinum trim level with a price above $100,000.
But let's stop talking about trim levels really quick because I want to point out this little sticker here. Most Chevy, GMC, Cadillac SUVs or trucks made for towing are going to have a sticker right here that shows you the towing figures for your specific vehicle, for the VIN on this actual vehicle. That's a neat little thing to have. Saves you from having to do the math with your trailer.
Getting further back, you'll notice that these wheels are massive. They're 22-inch wheels. That's the standard wheel size on the Escalade. And I point that out because it's all about what's connected behind here. I mentioned Chevy SUVs and trucks. I mentioned GMCs. This is the same underpinning as the Tahoe, Suburban, and Yukon. That means it benefits from independent rear suspension, which should make for a smoother ride, but also makes for a more compact rear suspension that should make for more space back here. You also get air springs and adaptive shocks, optionally.
Now, this Cadillac Escalade has the trailer tow package, and a lot of those capabilities manifest into a hitch and connectors underneath this plastic piece which is removable. I did it off camera but it took me so long to reinstall it that I figured we shouldn't do it now because I value and respect your time.
Let's pop the rear hatch. Now, if you've watched our Chevy Tahoe or Chevy Suburban reviews, this is going to sound very similar. In terms of connectivity, you have a 110-volt power outlet right here. And then dropping the seats is just as easy as hitting these buttons. Now you get a ton of space whether you have the short wheelbase or long wheelbase Escalade, in fact, more cargo space per row that what you get in the equivalent Navigator. So plenty of space for cargo of all kinds.
As we hop into the interior of this Escalade, let's talk about what stands out first. Obviously these screens. We're going to cover those in a bit more detail later. First, let's talk about interior fit, finish, feel, quality, the stuff that you would expect to be really nice when you're paying $110,000, which is what this is as equipped.
Now, in terms of materials, it's fairly nice. Generally, light-colored tones of leathers aren't really my thing, but fortunately there's a wide variety of configurations that you can get your Escalade interior, and that also goes for the wood paneling too. This pattern is interesting, though it's a little too glossy for my tastes. But again, a lot of options that you can get in this car. Generally, everything is covered with leather and that feels nice.
The thing that is not are these fabric inserts on the sides of the tunnels and on the door panels, which look really neat. It's something that I would expect from like a Volvo or a Polestar. It's a nice little design touch. I'm curious how it's going to wear over time. But you could say the same thing about white leather too.
Let's talk about storage and connectivity. Under this panel right here you've got your cup holders, a little cubby right here, power ports. There's two USB, one USB C and one traditional USB. Further back behind that, underneath the arm rest, is you have a deeper cubby right here. And actually in this car it's been optioned to work like a refrigerator. It's got two different cooling modes. And ahead of that you have two more USB C power ports as well. There's a lot of connectivity right here, including wireless phone charging, wireless Apple CarPlay, and wireless Android Auto.
In fact, if I pull out Arnie right here, where does he live? Well, a lot of cars that have wireless charging, they just kind of have a pad somewhere on the dash. Sometimes it's texturized so your phone does move around too much. But what I like about Cadillac's solution here is that the phone slides into this slot and starts charging. And what's nice about that is it's held in place, and it encourages you to use the vehicle's phone projection systems, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, instead of referring to your phone while you're driving, and that's a really nice touch.
In terms of overall space, this thing is massive. There's a ton of room in any direction. You feel tall. We'll talk about the driving position when we're actually driving the car, but surely up here there is no shortage of place for you to exist, and also your passenger too.
Now, let's talk about the screens ahead of me in a little bit more detail. When you hop in this car and turn it on for the first time, these screens seem really impressive. And I say screens because there's actually three. There's the center infotainment display, or center touchscreen, or entertainment screen, whatever you want to call it. There's an all-digital gauge cluster, and then there's this little display off to the far left. The two outboard ones are touch sensitive, and then you can actually control the entertainment display with this rotary dial here like you can on some Audis. It comes to mind the way you control is actually kind of similar.
Now, it's really impressive, clean, and so far it's responded really quickly to my inputs, and has adjusted everything just the way I would expect. The voice controls respond to natural language, and there's a depth of configuration within the screens that'll take some time to get used to, but it gives you a lot of power over how you control the vehicle. You can do things like make sure that you use the microphones and speakers in each of the seats to communicate more clearly to the people in the third row, for example. Yeah, there's a setting for that.
Now, one of the things that I've noticed, as someone who really likes using phone projection systems like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is the layout of the screen just doesn't look that great when you're in the Apple CarPlay mode. That's OK. I mean, you can live with that.
If you want to get the most from the systems that will work with the navigation, you're going to want to use the onboard system. And you want to do things like that, because it gives you more options as we move to the center display, where they gauge cluster is at. I can have the map take up the full width the screen, if I would choose, so I could have the map and the gauge cluster, and I could have the stereo here, or whatever displays you want there.
I can also use what Cadillac calls an augmented reality camera. Now, that's displaying what the Cadillac sees looking forward. There's a camera on the nose of the car that appears to be a pretty high refresh rate. It works well. I mean, I was driving at 70 miles an hour. I had this camera up and it was pretty easy to spot. You also have night vision, which I actually can't use right now because it's day, and night vision system is only available when it's dark. And also I can switch it back to the standard gauge cluster.
You can control what appears in both the left and right panels of the gauge cluster, and that's nice because it gives you some additional configuration. Overall, this appears to be a really clean, modern, and sufficiently high-tech system for a modern car, especially for an American large luxury SUV. Just on initial impressions, this is right up there with what you see from the best of Germany.
Now, in the second row of the Escalade, if it looks like I'm close to the front seat, it's because I am. Watch this. I've got plenty of space back here. In fact, in terms of interior measurements for front, second, and third rows, this is generally slightly more spacious, in terms of specs, than the Lincoln Navigator in either the standard wheelbase or the long wheelbase ESV variants. That's worth pointing out back here. Tons of space, again, in every direction. I'm average height and weight, generally, and there's so much room back here it's actually kind of hard just to specify how much space there is.
Now, I don't have seat ventilation like the front seats, but I do have seat heating. In terms of power ports and outlets, I've got two HDMI ports at the bottom of the center console there, and then two USB C ports as well. Same thing with the cup holders and climate control happening there as well.
Now, you may be wondering what's going on with these screens. Well, if you've watched the Chevy Suburban or Chevy Tahoe reviews that we had on the channel previously, it's the same setup. So that means these screens can reference what the front entertainment screen has going on. Like, if they go and hit navigation on that screen, because I think you could probably see it more clearly, I can see the navigation that's happening on the entertainment display.
I can also plug in my own HDMI accessory and power. So if I have got a Chromecast, for example, or Nintendo Switch, I can have those projected on these displays separately. So I can have one thing going on this screen and a completely separate thing going on on that screen. That's really huge for rear-seat entertainment.
Now, let's take a look at the third row. For climbing into the third row, we're going to start by showing what it's like to lower the second row, and it's actually really easy. There's a lever here that you lift once to drop it flat and you lift again for it to slide up. That gives you a ton of space, as you can see, for me to sort of climb my way back in here.
Now that I'm back here, I'm going to lower this seat, lift it up, and ask our lovely assistant to slide the seat back towards me so you can see how much legroom I have when the seat is slid back as far as it will go. And my knees are touching the seat back. That's probably what you should expect for three-row seating in an SUV this size, for a full-size adult. This is certainly tolerable in terms of space, especially because the pass-through between the second row is so wide I can extend a leg there like I would if I was on a plane. But for children this will be totally adequate.
Now, back here you have basically got a cup holder on each side, USB C ports on each side, and then a vent that'll blow air conditioning right in your face, which is helpful. These aren't going to be the most comfortable seats to exist in, but certainly more spacious than they ever have been in the history of the Escalade.
Let's get the obvious out of the way with the Escalade first. This thing's enormous. This is a massive vehicle, even though it isn't the even longer ESV long-wheelbase version. This thing is enormous, and it's heavy, and it's on 22s. If you believe the door sticker, this vehicle weighs just over 6,100 pounds. So there's a lot of stuff happening here with the driving experience, or you'd expect a lot of stuff to be happening with the driving experience, and it's actually kind of pleasurable that it's not.
In spite of the weight and size, this thing goes down the road really smoothly with kind of the luxury ride quality you would expect from a luxury SUV. Credit goes to the new underpinnings and new suspension on this vehicle, much like the Suburban, Tahoe, and GMC Yukon. You have an independent rear suspension. That not only gives you the greater rear storage space, it also smooths the ride, especially from the rear.
Most Escalades will have magnetic RideControl, which is a fancy term for quick-reacting, adaptive shocks. And then we're also riding on air suspension, so air springs, that can soften out and adjust to the driving experience. Aside from making it easier to load items into the vehicle when you're in the access height, the air springs can also lower the vehicle to make the driving experience more aerodynamic on the freeway, and also can raise the vehicle for additional clearance if you ever take one of these off road.
You could take it off road because you've got four-wheel drive. It actually has an all-wheel drive mode too, and auto mode. You've also got two high, four high, and four low. So the capability is there should you desire to do it though.
The seating position, you are certainly upright and have a commanding view over the road. The dash seems particularly tall for me right now. And in spite of that, my driving position still feels very car-like. The elbow rests, for example, have an equal height so that makes it really comfortable to grab the steering wheel. I have a traditional car-like shifter, which, thankfully, is a much better version than what you would get in the Suburban with that funky lever solution and button solution on the dash. This is much easier to manipulate.
And it all works, especially when you pair it with a 6.2-liter V8 like this one has with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The smoothness of the acceleration is quite nice. This thing changes gears really quickly. Sometimes you can't even perceive that the gear change has happened. It's a very quiet drive train as well. And the overall experience gives you the power that you want when you need it, but doesn't really need to be in your face about it. That's important because the things at a power deficit versus the Lincoln Navigator.
Now, overall, you're never going to get around the size of this thing but there are things that help, like a pretty sophisticated exterior camera system that gives you multiple views from all angles around and outside the vehicle. That helps a lot in tight parking lots, or like your garage at home, assuming you could fit this thing in there. You also have a automatic parking system that works in both parallel and perpendicular spots. I haven't been able to evaluate that yet, but it's a nice thing to have, assuming the technology works.
What I like too about driving the Escalade is, you've got a lot of advanced stuff happening on the gauge cluster. I've got a head-up display as well. The steering wheel is positioned in a way where I get a clear view of that gauge cluster. And when I use the various driving modes, like if I put it in the map mode and have the map just take over the entire screen, I can clearly see in my direction of travel, where I want to be turning, and all the guidance on that. I can also put it in the AR camera, the augmented-reality camera, so-called, and get that forward-facing view with nav prompts on there.
And I'll leave that up because I've got the navigation set, and you'll see when those appear, and how they work. I'm a little mixed on whether I'd actually use this. But for some shoppers who might like this in areas that feel congested and difficult to navigate, this might help.
The other thing that will help a lot on the freeways, though this vehicle doesn't actually have, is Super Cruise. It's available on the Escalade, though we didn't get it on this particular test vehicle. Now, Super Cruise is a true hands-free driving experience on select freeways. You can see those freeways on Cadillac's website. There's a fairly exhaustive list of them.
And the way it works is, there's a camera on models equipped with that option on the steering column that looks at your face, and it will know if you are paying attention to the road or not. Once you satisfy those criteria, and you're on that pre-approved freeway, you turn it on, set your speed, and you can take your hands off the wheel, and it will do the speed management for you and the steering for you. Now, modern versions of that system will do lane changes when you turn on the turn signal, but it's not going to navigate you to a destination like Tesla's autopilot system says it can do. Whether it actually does or not is a different story.
So a potentially nice feature that we look forward to evaluating more in-depth when we can get a test vehicle in that has it. You should know that it's a $2,500 option on top-level Escalades. But if you're getting a lower trim level you have to get like another $3,500 option in order to get that $2,500 option, so closer to $5,000 or $6,000. When you pay for it, it's good for a three-year subscription, but after that it's up to $25 a month to maintain the service.
Now, generally what I like about the 6.2-liter V8 is it's quiet when you're cruising and when you step on it, it sounds good. Let's see if we can reproduce that experience right now.
I like that. That's good. It may not be as powerful as the V6 in the Lincoln Navigator, but it makes all the right sounds, makes me feel happy. I like that.
Overall, the driving experience of the Escalade is fairly nice for what it is, a vehicle with this kind of towing capability, with this kind of size, weight, comfort. It behaves on the road, from a driving experience, in a much more car-like fashion, excepting, again, this is rather tall. Visibility can seem slightly compromised, especially because the hood line is so tall. When you have the rear head rests up that impacts your rear view. But fortunately you can rely on a lot of the safety systems, blind spot monitoring, and so on, to alleviate a lot of the visibility concerns. Also practicing proper placement helps a lot too.
And the system is telling me to turn left, if you can see that. The little arrow appears on the screen in a way that's subtle, but also easy to catch. I've got the turn-by-turn disabled for the purposes of talking to the camera right now, but this works. This really works.
The Escalade will be at dealers this fall. And I think overall the 2021 version packs some really impressive technology, and really nice styling, in a package that's overall a really complete luxury SUV that you would hope the Escalade to be. We certainly look forward to evaluating it further and putting it into comparison against the Lincoln Navigator. But until then, make sure to visit Edmunds.com/SUV for the top-ranked SUV in each category. And that's going to do it for this video. Thanks for watching.