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2021 Cadillac Escalade's features and tech propel luxury SUV to leadership

By Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

If it's possible to be simultaneously iconic and underappreciated, the Cadillac Escalade qualifies. The 'Slade — a nickname I despise, but hey, how many vehicles are special enough to have nicknames these days? — is the ride of choice for star athletes and celebrities, featured in music videos and prime time soaps like HBO's "Succession."

When you arrive in an Escalade, you have arrived.

Despite that, know-it-all auto writers like me tended to dismiss the Escalade when the conversation turns to the best luxury SUVs. A friend who knows the auto industry as well as anybody I know looked at me like I'd spit in the soup bowl a few years ago when I answered an oil exec's question about their next vehicle with, "Have you driven the new Escalade?"

So, tell me, have you driven the new Escalade? You should. New from the ground up for 2021, Cadillac's flagship has features, technology and comfort that belong in any conversation about the world's best big luxury SUVs.

Buyers decided that a long time ago. The Escalade's been Cadillac's most profitable and luxurious vehicle for nearly a generation, achieving $100,000-plus prices and a status that makes it recognizable around the world.

The Escalade's critics dismissed it because it was based on the same platform as GM's large pickup trucks, a footnote that means as much to luxury buyers as the fact that their $1,500 Glenroyal Scottish leather briefcase and a McDonald's hamburger both started out as cattle.


Based on my recent daylong test, the 2021 Escalade's a match for anything on wheels when it comes to luxury, technology and the ability to make the miles disappear in comfort.


Adaptive cruise control

Enhanced automatic emergency braking


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