The Cadillac Escalade has become a bona fide cultural icon, representing sumptuous luxury and high-class comfort in a big, eye-grabbing (and sometimes ostentatious) SUV wrapper. Indeed, the Escalade is the best-selling model in its segment, snatching over half of the segment share on a consistent basis. That said, the current fourth-generation model is getting a bit long in the tooth – not unsurprising considering that it launched the 2015 model year. As such, an all-new next-gen model is just over the horizon, with an expected reveal in February, followed by a launch in the summer of 2020. Here’s everything we know about the 2021 Cadillac Escalade so far.
The all-new fifth-generation Cadillac Escalade will launch for the 2021 model year, and will be offered in both a standard-length body style, and as the extended-length Escalade ESV.
Cadillac’s semi-recently-established Y trim level structure should be present and accounted for, consisting of Premium Luxury and Sport trims. We don’t expect the base-level Luxury trim to be offered. Platinum should join the lineup as a package, rather than as a trim level.
A high-performance and an all-electric variant will drop a year or two after the release of the regular models.
Along with fresh underpinnings and mechanical bits, the all-new 2021 Cadillac Escalade will feature all-new styling, as previewed in spy photos and various leaks. The model will feature a longer wheelbase while also growing on the outside, both for the regular- and extended-length models.
The front fascia will take a similar direction to the Cadillac XT6, with new horizontal headlamps joining the brand’s signature vertical daytime running lights (DRLs). The front grille will be massive, with a heavy dose of chrome trim throughout. That chrome will also carry over into the body. Meanwhile, the expected Sport models should swap the chrome trim with shiny black replacement pieces.
The overall design and treatment will be similar to that of the current Cadillac range, but adapted to the Escalade’s expansive cabin. Interior room will grow as a result of the larger exterior and the new independent rear suspension (more on that in a bit). The biggest benefactors of these changes will be increased second and third row space, along with improved cargo room.
Technology will be plentiful, and will include standouts like the next-gen Rear Camera Mirror and a next-generation infotainment system via the a 38-inch OLED display that merges the center screen with the instrument panel across the dash. Drivers will select the driver gear via the Electronic Precision Shift, identical to that in the new CT5 and CT4.
The Cadillac Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving technology will also join the fray. First offered on the Cadillac CT6, Super Cruise will also be offered on the new CT5 and CT4 sedans as well.
In the back, look for major advances in rear seat infotainment, complete with large rear screens and a significantly modernized and improved user experience.
Providing the underlying digital “nervous system” for all these high-tech goodies will be Cadillac’s new Global B electrical platform. Compared to its predecessor, Global B offers vastly improved connectivity, a five-fold increase in processing power, enhanced cybersecurity, and over-the-air updates. First introduced with the CT5 and CT4 within the Cadillac range, and utilized by several other all-new vehicles by Cadillac’s parent, General Motors Company, Global B will also make things more difficult for tuners, at least temporarily.
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade will make the move to the new T1 vehicle platform. The architecture is stronger and more advanced than the K2 platform that the outgoing model is based on.
Another notable change will be swapping the old live rear axle setup for a new independent rear suspension (IRS). This important change will deliver much-improved ride and sharper handling (especially on rough roads), as well as more interior space. It’s unclear at this time what the impact of the IRS will be with regard to towing. In the corners, look out for next-generation Magnetic Ride Control suspension, plus the option for an air suspension.
For motivation, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade will come standard with a 6.2L V8 gasoline engine (production code L87) with Dynamic Fuel Management. Caddy will also offer the 3.0L I-6 turbodiesel engine (production code LM2). Both engines will mate to a 10-speed automatic gearbox. It will be the only vehicle in its class to offer a diesel engine.
Later in the product life cycle, a high-performance variant – believed to be called Escalade-V, will offer a supercharged 6.2L V8 similar to the unit found in the third-gen Cadillac CTS-V. Meanwhile, the twin-turbocharged 4.2L V8, otherwise known as Blackwing” will not make the lineup, which marks a change of original plans.
Details on the forthcoming all-electric model’s powertrain are not yet available, but as stated above, range-per-charge is expected to reach 400 miles.
Production of the 2021 Cadillac Escalade will take place at the Arlington plant in Texas, where the current model is made.
As we first reported, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade will debut in Beverly Hills, California, on February 4th – just in time for The Oscars. Cadillac Society will be in attendance to bring you live coverage of the event.
The very first units of the next-gen Escalade should begin arriving at dealers in late Q2 or early Q3 of the 2020 calendar year (in the United States). Eventually, the SUV will be sold in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Russia, the Middle East, and Japan.
It’s currently unclear whether the all-new model will make its way to China – currently Cadillac’s largest market by sales volume – since Cadillac does not have a plant to produce the model.
Pricing is expected to be several thousand higher than that of the current model. For reference, the current 2020 Cadillac Escalade starts at $75,195 and the Escalade ESV starts at $78,195, without any incentives.