Large Cadillac sedans that have come and gone through recent decades all faced a similar critique: they don’t seem to capture the magic of those majestic land yachts that the brand continues to be measured by. But maybe it’s only because this magic hasn’t left Cadillac, but has actually evolved from 17-foot personal limousines and into a full-size SUV. There’s plenty of data to support that the Cadillac Escalade is the most iconic product the brand has made over the past two decades. Whether it’s by the myriad references of the Escalade in pop music, the high asking prices, or whether because it enjoys the youngest and most affluent customer base of the entire brand portfolio, the Escalade has emerged as the market driven, modern flagship of American luxury vehicles. The 2021 Cadillac Escalade continues this pedigree, and does so with levels of such poise and confidence that its brand stablemates only wish they could capture.
In short, the Escalade is everything Cadillac needs to be, from our vantage point. It’s large, it’s expensive, it’s powerful, it’s boldly designed inside and out, and most importantly: it’s memorable. There have been plenty of vehicles out there, even at the price point of the Escalade, that check off all quantifiable targets in focus groups, such as an appealing design and abundant technology. But the finished product is too often a sterile one. They just check the boxes. They’re a flavorless smoothie with all of the essential vitamins and minerals one may need. But that’s just it, flavorless. The 2021 Cadillac Escalade is a 32oz ribeye steak dinner. It’s satiating, it’s rich, and if you’re lucky, it may offend somebody. Go figure that the Escalade is built in Texas.
We’ll let the photo gallery do the talking from here. We spent 36 hours with a 2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury. While not even the top of the range (it didn’t even have four-wheel-drive), this particular machine carries an MSRP of $100,685 as tested. Over $16,000 in total options, highlighted by the anticipated 36-speaker AKG sound system ($4,300). The Driver Assist Tech Package ($3,650) adds floaty air ride suspension, illuminated sill plates, soft-close doors, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, reverse automatic braking, and auto seat belt tightening. The Performance Package ($2,700) adds an electronic limited slip differential and magnetic ride control dampers. Rounding things out are the Brandy/DK Atmosphere accents ($2,000), the First Class rear seat entertainment system ($1,995), and power assist steps with perimeter lighting ($1,750).
We chose a boat marina as the location to photograph the 2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury, because it only made sense to park a land yacht next to an equivalent marine vessel.