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Sometimes you just need to go big when buying a new vehicle. The 2021 Cadillac Escalade makes some impressive upgrades to the previous models of this large, luxury SUV. The latest Escalade offers three full rows of seats to accommodate up to eight people. The cargo area offers between 25.5 and 121 cubic feet of space. This depends on how you configure the second and third rows of seats.
This is the fifth generation of the Escalade and Cadillac has made some much-needed updates to their luxury SUV. An upgraded suspension makes for a smoother ride than ever before. More modern technology and driver-assist systems have been added on to the Escalade this year. The exterior and interior both get modest redesigns too. There's even an option for a diesel engine this year.
2021 Cadillac Escalade ESV
Worth noting here is that there is also a special version of the Escalade called the ESV. This is an even bigger version of the Escalade just in case the regular model is too small for you. The ESV is 15.9 inches longer with a 13.2 inch longer wheel base. You still get three rows of seats, but the cargo capacity gets greatly increased here. You now get a whopping 142.8 cubic feet of storage space.
Compare the 2021 Cadillac Escalade Luxury vs Premium Luxury - What is the Difference?
The regular Cadillac Escalade and the ESV both come in five different trim levels. The first two trim levels are called the Luxury and the Premium Luxury. Both trims are powered by a 6.2-liter V8 engine. This motor can produce 420 horsepower with 460 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The transmission system is electronically controlled and provides overdrive as well as hauling and towing modes for optimum performance.
In addition to the V8, buyers can opt for a 3.0-liter Duramax Turbo Diesel engine. The horsepower drops down to 277 with this model, but the torque rating stays the same at 460 pound-feet. It may be a bit slower, but it can still tow a heavy load just as well as the V8 engine. It is also more efficient with a combined fuel-economy rating of 22 miles-per-gallon. The gasoline engine only gets around 16 miles-per-gallon.
Both of these trim levels are available in two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive configurations. A two-wheel drive model, when properly equipped, should be able to pull up to 8,200 pounds. The four-wheel drive models can tow up to 8,000 pounds.
Both vehicles have an automatic start/stop feature with a disable button. Automatic Emergency Braking is standard on all trims. Automatic Vehicle Hold allows the driver to take their foot off the brake for long waits. Electronic Precision Shift and an Electronic Parking Brake are equipped on both trims as well.
Both trims offer Front Pedestrian Braking. There is also some heavy-duty trailering equipment. This includes a hitch platform, a 7-wire harness with independent fused trailering circuits, and a 7-way sealed connector. Hitch Guidance works with your rear-view mirror to align the trailer with your vehicle. Both trim models also have Hill Start Assist.
When it comes to towing, the Premium Luxury model offers a few extra options. You can add on Hitch Guidance with Hitch View. This feature shows guidelines in your rear-view mirror. You can also add on the In-vehicle Trailering App. This feature allows you to get security alerts, maintenance reminders and electrical diagnostics.
Both trims have 22-inch, 14-spoke alloy wheels. The Luxury wheels have a Bright Silver color while the Premium Luxury wheels come in a Polished finish. The wheels are paired with a set of 22-inch all-season tires. Cadillac throws in a 17-inch spare tire in case you need it.
Most of the exterior cosmetic features are the same between these two trim levels. The exterior mirrors have a power fold-in feature and are heated for quick defrosting on cold winter mornings. The mirrors feature integrated turn signals. The driver-side mirror has an auto-dimming feature as well. Both trims come equipped with LED headlights and taillights. Automatic Headlamp Leveling is included for both trims as well.
One difference on the outside of these Escalades is that the Premium Luxury comes with a Panoramic Power Sunroof installed. Both models offer illuminating door handles. This makes them easy to spot in the dark and also gives the Escalade a modern, sophisticated look. The Luxury and Premium Luxury both share the same chrome roof rails and body-side moldings.
Moving on to the interior, both Escalade models will keep you and your passengers safe with seven airbags. The Luxury model has leatherette seat upholstery while the Premium Luxury offers real leather. The front seats have 4-way power lumbar control in both models. Both models offer heated front seats. The Premium Luxury adds on ventilated front seats as well.
The infotainment center starts with a 19-speaker audio system by AKG Studio. This can be upgraded to a 36-speaker system for the Premium Luxury. The base system has one subwoofer and an amplifier. Bluetooth technology is integrated into the system so you can stream your favorite music or connect your smartphone and other mobile devices.
The infotainment center comes with a 16.9-inch OLED color information display. There is an included navigation system. The infotainment system is also compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are USB ports for connectivity and charging. The system also makes use of NFC technology for mobile-device pairing. Both trim levels also offer wireless charging.
Occupants are kept comfortable with a Tri-Zone Automatic Climate Control in either trim level. Both offer a Tire-Pressure Monitor and a Theft-deterrent Unauthorized Entry System. Standard safety equipment includes Rear Pedestrian Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking and Forward Collision Alert.
Moving up to the Premium Luxury trim gets you Enhanced Automatic Parking Assist. You also now get Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert and Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning. There's also a Rear Cross Traffic Alert and an optional Night Vision System.
Compare the 2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury vs Sport - What is the Difference?
The next trim level up from the Premium Luxury is called the Sport model. It's available as a two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive model. It comes powered by the same V8 engine as before and has the same automatic transmission system. You once again have the option of the diesel engine if you wish.
One new feature on the Sport model is Magnetic Ride Control. This feature allows the Escalade to better hold to the road and gives the vehicle an even smoother ride quality. It also has an Electronic Limited-Slip Differential for better traction, stability and handling.
Some of the options for the Premium Luxury model now come standard on the Sport trim. These include the Hitch Guidance with Hitch View, the Trailering App and the Integrated Trailer Brake Controller. This time around, the Escalade will have 22-inch alloy wheels with a Polished Dark Android finish.
The Sport model has body-colored exterior door handles. The previously chromed roof rails and body moldings now come in a glossy-black finish. On the inside, the Sport model offers the same infotainment center features as before. The 19-speaker audio system makes a return as well. You get the same climate-control system and most of the same safety features as before.
One feature that is new to the Sport trim level is a Trailer Side Blind Zone Alert. Other than that, there are a few cosmetic flourishes here and there and of course the Sport badging on the exterior.
Compare the 2021 Cadillac Escalade Sport vs Premium Luxury Platinum - What is the Difference?
The Premium Luxury Platinum is much the same as the Premium Platinum but with a lot of upgrades to the comfort and convenience features. This is the best of what Cadillac has to offer for a luxury vehicle. One major new addition for this trim level is the Adaptive Air Ride suspension.
The Adaptive Air Ride suspension uses electronically-controlled air springs for an exceptionally smooth ride. This suspension system is engineered to work well in a variety of situations. It can take you comfortably over the roughest terrain at slow speeds or provide for excellent ride quality at high speeds on the highway.
The Premium Luxury Platinum offers Enhanced Automatic Emergency Braking, which is only an option for the Sport model. Reverse Automatic Braking is included as well. The wheels are similar to those found on the Sport trim, but this time around they get some added flair in the form of laser etching.
The roof rails and moldings go back to chrome here, more like the Premium Luxury than the Sport model. Most of the cosmetics are similar to the Premium Luxury. A Driver Assist Tech package is added on to the Premium Luxury Platinum to include every driver-assist system available. Ones not already mentioned include Adaptive Cruise Control and Automatic Seat Belt Tightening.
On the inside, the Premium Luxury Platinum gets the best audio system available. This time, it's a 36-speaker setup from AKG Studio. Owners can opt for a center-console refrigerator with a freezer mode and covered storage. Another nice perk for this Platinum trim level is a rear entertainment system.
You can keep all of your rear passengers entertained thanks to this cool package. There are two color-touch LCD HD screens measuring in at 12.6 inches. These are mounted to the back of the head rests. There are multiple HDMI and USB inputs in a center console so users can play their favorite media on the screens.
The rear-seat entertainment package has Two 2-channel wireless infrared digital headphones for quiet playback of your favorite music or movies. Bluetooth headphones are compatible with the system as well. The remaining safety features are the same as those found on the previous trim level.
Compare the 2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury Platinum vs Sport Platinum. What is the Difference?
There's not too much to mention about the Sport Platinum. The Sport Platinum is to the Sport model what the Premium Luxury Platinum was to the Premium Luxury. Platinum models are otherwise identical to their namesakes, but with the best of the available comfort features and driver-assist technologies.
As such, the performance features, comfort features and safety tech is identical between the Premium Luxury Platinum and the Sport Platinum trim levels. The only differences here are the cosmetic and exterior features for the Sport Platinum echo those of the Sport trim while the Premium Luxury Platinum match those of the Premium Luxury trim.
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Which Trim to Choose?
Your decision here may be based on your budget or even just your personal tastes. The thing about owning a luxury SUV is that you won't want to short change the posh extras and special amenities. If you have the dough, go right for one of the Platinum trim levels. You won't be disappointed.
With the Platinum models, you get the amazing 36-speaker audio system. The seats come in rich, comfortable leather with 16-way power adjustments. And you get all of the best safety and technology features here. Which one of the two to choose just comes down to which cosmetic style you like better.
• Compare the 2020 Cadillac Escalade Trim Levels