Diesel motoring shouldn’t be this sexy
The Cadillac Escalade has always been about doing things big — not just size-wise, although the fifth-generation model is indeed an impressive physical specimen, and the most spacious yet with an additional 264 millimetres of third-row legroom. The redesigned vehicle is also making a splash in the digital department offering some segment and even industry first technological innovations.
The interior of the 2021 certainly needs to be seen in person to be believed. Big screens have been in cars for some time now, but not a curved, paper-thin OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) unit appearing to around the driver like a high-end gaming monitor or TV.
Unlike a traditional backlit LCD display, this one permits the control of individual LEDs translating into crisp images where the blacks appear pure black, rather than a hazy grey, and vibrant colours pop out from virtually any viewing angle.
Thanks to a generous 38.3 diagonal inches of real estate, the touch-sensitive panel is fully customizable and can display things like cool augmented reality-enabled navigation, which overlays directional arrows on top of live street views to perfectly point out the proper route.
It’s not only the advanced GPS making commuting easier. Similar to the system originally launched on the CT6 sedan, an advanced version of Super Cruise driver assistance (+ $2,875) is available for use on more than 300,000 kilometres of divided highways across the U.S. and Canada. Being introduced is automated lane change: when in traffic, simply flick the turn signal lever and various cameras and sensors help automatically guide the SUV safely to the adjacent lane.
Tech aside, the interior of the Escalade is nicer than ever. As mentioned earer all passengers enjoy a lot of extra room due to the total overall vehicle length growing approximately 180 millimetres. Cargo capacity, too, has become enlarged, increasing an incredible 80 per cent to 773 litres behind the rear bench. The ability to seat up to eight adults is a treat when transporting a big group, however the number is reduced to seven if the centre captain’s chairs are installed.
Packing a rockin’ stereo is a a must given the iconic model. And the team at Cadillac really went all out partnering with acoustic equipment manufacturer AKG. Working alongside these makers of professional-grade microphones and headphones, the result is a 36-speaker setup in select trims (19 speakers plus a subwoofer are standard) engulfing listeners in high fidelity sound.
Don’t worry about shouting to those in the back as a Conversation Enhancement feature utilizes microphones and the aforementioned speakers providing clear two-way communication between the first and third rows. Just remember to turn it off before talking about any sensitive topics.
Darpan was loaned the diesel variant, the Duramax 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six producing 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque that gets the job down motoring around town or towing as much as 8,000 pounds (when properly equipped). People seeking extra grunt and growl might want to consider the 420 horsepower 6.2-litre V8 alternative. Both are mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Independent rear suspension and optional adaptive air suspension with magnetic ride control should ensure a smooth and comfortable experience for occupants at all times, as the latter is capable of constantly reading road conditions and self-adjusting to mitigate any bumps encountered.
And how about the looks? Well, the difference between the outgoing SUV and the new one is night and day. Split into two pillars: Luxury/Premium Luxury/Platinum Luxury grades focus on what the name suggests — think lots of chrome detailing — while Sport and Platinum Sport, the latter which we tested, go in a more performance-influenced aesthetic, embodied by a black mesh front grille and other black elements.
All Escalades share razor thin horizontally oriented headlamp housings, stacked overtop complementary vertical signature LED daytime running light on either side of the bumper. Massive 22-inch alloy wheels are standard, as are dual exhaust tips.
Prices start at $90,398 MSRP. (use 600d photos only)
Highlights (as tested):
Motor: 3.0-litre turbo-diesel inline six
Horsepower: 277 @ 3,750 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 460 @ 1,500 rpm
Gearbox: 10-speed automatic
Layout: front engine, four-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 16.1 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)