2021 Cadillac Escalade Sport

2021 Cadillac Escalade Sport

The latest Escalade goes for svelte sophistication.

When it comes to luxury vehicles, especially SUVs, it is crucial for them to set a good first impression and there are few that do it as well as the Cadillac Escalade. As the industry trend drifts away from all things bling and shiny to sportier appearances, Cadillac unveiled a Sport trim for the fifth generation Escalade. We borrowed a 2021 Cadillac Escalade Sport to see if it can in fact be sporty without losing its special attention-grabbing appeal.

The Escalade has always been one of the biggest SUVs on the market and this current model has retained that characteristic, which instantly gives it immense curb appeal. Cadillac moved to a busier fascia that features both horizontal and vertical lighting elements and the end result is one that lost a bit of the swagger. Fortunately, the Sport’s dedicated gloss black mesh grille sharpens the Escalade’s appearance when paired with the optional 22-inch black wheels and the Crystal White Tricoat paint job is modern and refreshing.

Shoppers will be able to choose between a 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel and a 6.2-litre gasoline V8 engine. Our tester was built with the silky smooth 420-horsepower V8 that never feels stressed in any situation, and the 460 lb-ft. of torque is instrumental in propelling the 5,822-pound beast from a standstill with little hesitation. While the Escalade certainly cannot be considered fast, the force that it accelerates with packs a wallop and it also rewards drivers with a deep and satisfying growl.

As one could imagine, moving this much weight swiftly means an adverse effect on fuel economy. The Escalade uses Dynamic Fuel Management cylinder deactivation technology that can shut down cylinders and operate in a variable pattern to optimize fuel efficiency. The net result is a 16.8L/100km city and a remarkable 12.4L/100km highway figure, and we observed 13.9L/100km over a week of mixed driving – a phenomenal figure with a full-size body-on-frame truck. As expected with any flagship luxury SUV, premium 91-octane gasoline is required.

Contrary to what the name of the trim suggests, the Escalade Sport does not receive any performance or handling add-ons. Fortunately, all 2021 Escalades receive suspension updates that drastically improve handling. There is an all-new independent rear suspension, and a new Air Ride Adaptive suspension to pair with the standard Magnetic Ride Control system.

The latter enhancement uses sensors in the Magnetic Ride Control system to read road conditions ahead and adjust its damping rate of the shocks instantly, allowing the Escalade to keep its body roll and harsh vibrations in check. The biggest disappointment to its driving dynamics is in the mushy brake pedal feel; there is certainly enough braking power but it takes a bigger effort than we would like to halt this behemoth.

The Cadillac Escalade’s ride quality is simply excellent. We can hear minimal noise inside and the air suspension soaks up most road imperfections. The Escalade takes the ambience to another level with materials such as Opus semi-aniline and Mulan leather seating surfaces and micro-suede headliner. Our only complaint is the plasticky fake wood trim that does not suit the theme, and we would rather have seen a darker wood or aluminum instead. The Escalade features a generous cargo volume of 722 litres behind the third row or 1,784 litres with them folded.

The star of the show inside the all-new 2021 Escalade is the industry-first curved and ultra-thin OLED display that offers an unprecedented high-definition viewing experience. The display totals over 38 inches and is made up of three sections; a 7.2-inch touchscreen information display on the far left, a 14.2-inch instrument cluster display, and a 16.9-inch Infotainment screen atop the centre console. The screen quality and layout are leaps and bounds better than the last generation and usability is also far improved from the previous generation’s CUE system.

These high-definition screens serve more than just aesthetic purposes too, as the Escalade uses them for its Augmented Reality-enabled navigation system and night vision display. Our 2021 Escalade also features the standard 19-speaker AKG sound system to fill the quiet cabin with good quality music, and audiophiles can upgrade to the optional AKG Studio Reference System with 36 speakers for an immersive sound experience.

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade can be equipped with a Super Cruise driver assistance feature that allows the vehicle to perform hands-free driving on compatible highways in Canada and United States. The rest of the driver assistance features are pretty standard for its class, including Front Pedestrian Braking, Rear Pedestrian Alert, Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, HD Surround Vision, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, and Rear Camera Mirror.

Starting at $99,898, the 2021 Escalade Sport is $9,500 more than the Luxury model. Our tested Sport Platinum starts at $118,398 with additional options such as the 22-inch gloss black alloy wheels, Night Vision, Crystal White Tricoat paint, and the cooled armrest storage console bringing the as-tested total to $126,463. It is worth noting that there is no price difference between the diesel or the gasoline option so buyers can pick the powerplant that fits their needs.

The latest Escalade goes for svelte sophistication and the Sport Platinum trim adds a bit of sportiness for those looking for youthfulness. It manages to retain all of its composed driving dynamics from last year’s model and is a beautiful package inside and out. Those looking for the sportiest driving experience should consider the BMW X7, but for buyers who long for the most accommodating interior space for more than four adults will be happy with the 2021 Cadillac Escalade Sport.

See Also:

2021 Cadillac Escalade ESV

2021 Chevrolet Suburban High Country

First Drive: 2021 GMC Yukon

Ben So
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