Home » Why The 2021 Cadillac Escalade Doesn’t Have Horizontal Tail Lamps

Why The 2021 Cadillac Escalade Doesn’t Have Horizontal Tail Lamps

Why The 2021 Cadillac Escalade Doesn’t Have Horizontal Tail Lamps

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade debuted just last month in California, brining the iconic SUV nameplate into an all-new fifth generation. Among the long list of updates is fresh exterior styling front and back, but  critically, the new Escalade once again rocks a set of vertical tail lamps, which is a clear break from the horizontal lamps seen on every other model in the Cadillac lineup.

So then, we got curious – why doesn’t the new Escalade have horizontal tail lamps? To find out, we spoke with Cadillac Product Marketing Manager Dave Schiavone. This was his answer.

“One thing that [Cadillac parent company, General Motors] is really good at is research,” Schiavone told Cadillac Society in an exclusive interview. “It’s an exciting time to be there because you’re getting all the people who are buying Escalades, you’re getting the people who are buying anything else in the segment, and we’re showing them dozens and dozens of different ideas.”

During these customer research clinics, Cadillac looks at a number of different things, including potential design changes, as Schiavone highlights.

“In the case of the Escalade, nobody liked the look with the horizontal tail lamps,” Schiavone said. “We had plenty of these designs. It works for the other models, I don’t argue that at all. But we made an exception here for the 2021 Escalade because the customers told us ‘no, we like the thin vertical lamps.'”

Although horizontal tail lamps seem to work for the rest of the Caddy stable, it’s not altogether surprising that the automaker stuck with the traditional vertical lamps with the new 2021 Cadillac Escalade. Our lack of surprise also carries over to the customer preference Schiavone discusses, given that vertical tail lamps are a design theme seen on every Escalade generation since the nameplate’s introduction in the late ‘90s.

Indeed, looking over the model years, it appears as though the SUV’s tail lamp design has grown progressively thinner and taller over the years, and it’s a nice fit for the SUV’s tall, boxy styling, even when looking at the more rounded aesthetic of the latest 2021 model year vehicle.

Are you a fan of the 2021 Cadillac Escalade’s vertical tail lamps? Let us know in the comments, and make sure to subscribe to Cadillac Society for more Cadillac Escalade news and around-the-clock Cadillac news coverage.

Written by
Jonathan is an automotive journalist based out of Southern California. He loves anything and everything on four wheels.

15 Comments

  1. The vertical tail lamp design element looks great on the 2021 Escalade! They are tastefully done and a contemporary interpretation of a Cadillac signature feature. The Cadillac brand “owns” vertical tail lamps. My preference would be perhaps for one or two models to feature the horizontal element. Many of Cadillac’s best concept vehicles feature beautiful vertical tail lamps (I’m thinking Ciel, Sixteen and especially El Miraj!) My vote is to keep this design feature.

    Reply
    • Agreed, except for one glaring issue: Cadillac does not “own” vertical tail lamps. The vertical roof to bumper trend was started and popularized by Volvo roughly two decades ago. Ironically, today’s Volvo models are adding a horizontal element to the signature vertical element.

      Reply
      • Alex is correct. Unless of course one brings up the old school Cadillac models, but those are neither here nor there. We are talking about modern cars right? If so, Volvo has that aesthetic down pat.

        Reply
  2. Cadillac started the verticle taillight theme back in 1960. Every Cadillac until 1974 had verticals. 1974, ’75, & ’76 had horizontal taillights. 1977 they went back to verticles. In the 1980s, the SeVille had horizontals.
    I personally love the long thin LEDs of the Escalade. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the XT4 have verticles? I like the way they go down the side of the rear window and curve under it, sort of “encasing” the rear window.

    Reply
    • Just looked at 1974 and 75 Cadillac devil. They had vertices taillights.

      Reply
  3. So does Cadillac forecast OLED dashboards for any other vehicles in the line up and if so, when?

    Reply
    • Who cares who ”owns” them, I think they look great!

      Reply
  4. Love the new 2021 Escalade design. New thin design tail lamps is very stylish.

    Reply
    • I owned all three, a ’74, ’75 & 76, DeVilles and Eldorados.
      What I think you are referring to are the reflectors and side marker lights, which were integrated into the verticle part of the bumper. They were verticle. The actual taillights/stop lights/blinkers were horizontal.

      Reply
      • I can’t remember coming from east to west you could tail the type of car from the headlights that it was a Cadillac and the tail lights in the back and if you think of the vertical long tail lights of the Escalade think of the transport had vertical tail lights with a plastic body

        Reply
  5. Agree with the previous comments on vertical tail lamps. Wish they had done something with the headlamps. The narrow horizontal look lacks the dynamics of the previous generation and gives the front end a real “Chevy” look…especially with the sport grille. Like the side view and love the interior…at least from the photos!

    Reply
    • I agree with Pete that the vertical tail lamps are beautiful, as well as functional. You can see them from a long distance. I prefer the previous 2015-2020 front grille and headlamp treatment to the Tahoe looking headlamps of the new 2021. I also prefer the side trim to be a third of the way up on the doors instead of at the bottom of the doors. Sometimes I think they make changes just to be different, not necessarily to improve on the looks.

      Reply
  6. Vertical taillights have almost always been a design feature of Cadillac. Yes, they do recently include a horizontal feature, but the main design feature is vertical. This was intended to hark back to the tailfin years, and give it “the look” of a tailfin, which maintains a Cadillac historical design feature perspective.

    Reply
  7. I see that vertical tail lights are more visible at at distance than horizontal. And I can guess the distance to the Cadillac’s rear by estimating the distance seen between the lights, and use a bit of mental math. In a traffic jam, other vehicles will cover the tail and stop lights of those ahead, which is why new brake lights are at the roof’s edge. but the vertical lights allow maximum visibility unless an even taller vehicle blocks them.

    Reply
  8. I drove and XT5 for three years and now have the pleasure of driving the XT4. A number of people have made comments on the tail light design of the XT4 over the XT5 referencing the nice style of the XT4. My opinion is that the smaller vehicles look good with the design and the larger vehicles the verticle works better visually.

    Reply

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