Cadillac’s fifth-generation Escalade SUV is going big and bold in the front, with an industry-first curved OLED display spanning half of the dashboard, and in the back, where legroom and cargo space increase significantly.
The redesigned Escalade, revealed Tuesday in Los Angeles, has standard 22-inch wheels, posh interior styling inspired by the Cadillac Escala Concept and a new black-accented Sport trim.
But perhaps the most showstopping feature is the flowing screen offering more than 38 inches of diagonal display area and twice the pixel density of a 4K TV. Cadillac says it has the largest color range of any automotive display in the market. Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens have become widely used on high-end TVs and some smart phones. A few vehicle have used flat OLED screens on radios and instrument displays. But until the new Escalade, no vehicle has featured a curved screen that runs the length of the dashboard.
The display actually comprises three sections: a 7.2-inch driver information center to the driver’s left, a 14.2-inch cluster behind the steering wheel and a 16.9-inch infotainment screen. Cadillac says the curved design of the “paper-thin” OLED improves visibility for the driver.
“The 2021 Escalade takes its leadership into a new era of mobility, with comprehensive upgrades that are transformative to the driving experience,” Cadillac President Steve Carlisle said in a statement. “It’s more than a new Escalade. It’s a new experience.”
The 2021 Escalade goes on sale late this summer in North America. It will be built at General Motors’ full-size SUV plant in Arlington, Texas.
The Escalade, a Cadillac mainstay for two decades and one of GM’s most profitable nameplates, is the top seller in its segment. It faces more competition in the growing full-size luxury SUV and crossover segments, with the all-new BMW X7, the Lincoln Navigator, Land Rover’s venerable Range Rover, the Lexus LX and the Mercedes-Benz GLS and G class, in addition to Jeep’s forthcoming Grand Wagoneer.
U.S. sales of the Escalade declined 9.4 percent in 2019 to 22,478, while Escalade ESV deliveries rose 7.4 percent to 12,946.
The latest Escalade will come in five trim levels: Luxury, Premium Luxury, Platinum Luxury, Sport and Platinum Sport. The 2021 model is the first to offer the Sport trim, an option Cadillac says customers have been asking for. The Escalade Sport has a black mesh grille and black trim across the exterior,a contrast to other models decked out in chrome.
A new 6.2-liter V-8 engine with 420 hp comes standard, and a 3.0-liter turbodiesel also will be available. Both engines have torque ratings of 460 pound-feet and come with a 10-speed automatic transmission with electronic shift control.
The technology alone makes the retooled Escalade a standout from previous generations and signals the direction Cadillac is headed.
The Super Cruise driver-assist system will be available with enhancements that include automated lane-changing. It marks the most significant update since Super Cruise was introduced on the CT6 sedan in 2017.
The SUV also comes with Surround Vision that uses four exterior cameras to show a bird’s-eye view of surroundings and two rear-seat displays with navigation and entertainment options. The screens can mirror Android smartphones, and back-seat passengers can send destination suggestions to the front navigation screen. Night vision, a rear camera mirror and a trailering integration package also are available.
An optional augmented reality-enabled navigation tool uses live street views with directional overlays and incorporates turn-by-turn navigation over the street view.
Audio company AKG brings enhanced sound to the Escalade, with 36 speakers on higher trim levels and 19 speakers standard. AKG is known for microphones and headphones used in recording studios and at live venues.
Much of the interior design and OLED display was inspired by the Escala, a concept car Cadillac introduced at the 2016 Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, Calif.
The Escalade interior has eight color and trim choices that include unique seat designs, with custom perforation and quilting patterns.
The SUV also comes with a combination of electronic and physical switches to operate features. The left and right portions of the OLED display function as touch screens, but the vehicle also has a rotary dial controller and steering-wheel controls.
With new architecture and chassis technologies, interior space grew with the 2021 model. Third-row legroom increases about 40 percent, or 10 inches, to 34.9 inches. Maximum cargo space behind the third row is up 68 percent to 25.5 cubic feet.
The gains are due to a longer wheelbase of 120.9 inches and longer overall vehicle length of 211 inches, along with an independent rear suspension, which enabled a lower interior floor.