Step aside BMW, the new Cadillac Escalade is the grille king now

By topgear, 07 February 2020

Escalade. Just the name has presence these days. It’s a pop-culture icon of course, thanks to multiple appearances in rap videos throughout the noughties, but the sheer size of the thing has also contributed to the aura that surrounds Cadillac’s flagship SUV outside the USA.

And now, unbelievably, it’s even bigger. Yep, this is the new 2021 Escalade – the fifth generation of the monster-SUV – and it is absolutely ginormous. Let’s start with some figures. The standard Escalade is now 5.3m long and over 2m wide. It already has a longer wheelbase than the previous generation, but there’ll be an even longer wheelbase version called the Escalade ESV – that one will be 5.7m long. Five point seven metres.

How else can we convey just how large this thing is? Well, that grille is roughly the size of Berkshire, and the building it’s parked next to is apparently as tall as Buckingham Palace. You’ll get the black mesh grille if you spec the ambitiously-named ‘Sport’ trim and 22-inch wheels are standard across the range. 

The interior looks like quite the step up from the old Escalade. It’s hardly restrained, of course – things are dominated by a massive 38-inches of display screen up on the dash. Said screens are curved OLEDs, though, and have twice the pixel density of a 4K TV. Impressive.

There’s plenty more tech too. Cadillac knows that there’s ever-increasing competition in the luxury-SUV segment, so it’s gone all out with things such as augmented reality navigation, ‘Super Cruise’ semi-autonomous tech, 12.6-inch screens for rear-seat passengers and a 36-speaker AKG surround 


We realise that there’s a danger of sounding like a broken record here, but the Escalade is so big that Cadillac has also designed something called ‘Conversation Enhancement’ using the aforementioned audio system. Essentially, it uses microphones to pick up what occupants are saying and amplifies this through the speakers in another area of the car. What is the world coming to?

Anyway, just like the old Escalade, propulsion comes from a 6.2-litre V8 which puts out 420bhp and 460lb ft of torque. Unlike in previous generations though, there’s now a diesel option in the form of a 3.0-litre turbo. That comes with 277bhp and the same 460lb ft of torque as the Vee Eight. Both engines are mated to 10-speed automatic transmissions. Hybrid? Electric? Nahhh…

There’s four-wheel drive on all models, and new independent rear suspension brings it up to date and allows for a fair bit more room in the third row of seats. Adaptive air suspension is apparently optional. 

So, that’s about it for the new Escalade. There’s no doubt that our American and American-ised friends will love the thing.