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2021 Cadillac Escalade Performance Review


Performance: 7.7

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade offers a well-balanced ride and composed handling, but acceleration is merely adequate, and fuel economy is unimpressive.

  • "As delightful as the Escalade’s powertrain is, that’s not its stand-out feature; that honor goes to the suspension." -- Autoblog
  • "The Escalade's mighty 6.2-liter V-8 packs 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft, all delivered in the effortless manner common to the great Cadillacs of the past, those huge, whooshing couches that surfed around town on a wave of power and torque. But this Caddy is no couch, and the 2021 Escalade drives with newfound refinement and confidence." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Between the noise cancellation efforts, the astonishingly quiet cabin’s lack of wind or road noise, and the whisper quiet exhaust when cruising along at highway speeds, the engine just isn’t what you focus on when driving the Escalade. Instead, the new Escalade’s luxuriously serene, silent cruising operation makes piloting this massive land yacht an experience in nostalgic American luxury." -- Cars.com

Engine Options, Horsepower, and Acceleration

  • Base engine: 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque
  • Available engine: turbodiesel 3.0-liter six-cylinder with 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque
  • Drivetrain: standard rear-wheel drive; available four-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic

The Cadillac Escalade has sufficient, if slightly underwhelming, acceleration. It gets moving quickly from a stop and has ample passing power, but it doesn't feel overly muscular. The transmission earns rave reviews for its sharp and timely shifts.

  • "For something so large and quintessentially Cadillac, 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque lacks wow factor. But the 10-speed automatic means you’re never far from those peaks and shifts happen both quickly and seamlessly." -- Autoweek
  • "The portly Escalade had no issues with power. Passing is a breeze, and acceleration is brisk. With that said, power delivery in the Escalade did feel a tad more subdued than we've experience from the 6.2L in other products. While the Escalade does have a smooth, luxurious feel to it, we would love for the flagship luxury SUV to pack a bit more punch." -- Truck Trend
  • "The big V-8 comes mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, and it’s silky smooth in its always-ready power delivery. The transmission is perfectly tuned to this engine, never hunting for a gear, always ready to launch the Escalade without drama or fuss." -- Cars.com

MPG Estimates

With standard rear-wheel drive, the 2021 Escalade gets 15 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. Those estimates are a little below average for the luxury large SUV class. Four-wheel-drive models get 14 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway.

Handling and Braking

The Escalade offers composed handling, with relatively little body roll through turns. Ride quality is excellent, even over large bumps in the road.

  • "Pretty much all road undulations and imperfections are smoothed out, providing among the finest highway ride we've experienced outside of a high-end exotic. There's still a touch of body roll, but that's going to be hard to mitigate with such a large vehicle. To say the suspension is good would be quite an understatement." -- Truck Trend
  • "The suspension handles big impacts well. … The Escalade feels planted in a corner, and the body motions are well controlled. The steering is direct and linear, and the brakes are responsive if a bit wooden. If you want to drive this thing fast, you really can, but that's really not the point." -- Motor Trend
  • "This Cadillac is also supremely quiet and smooth, even when ripping down the highway. On rare occasions, you can get a tiny, tiny bit of body-on-frame jiggle, but that's really only on horrifying road surfaces. This vehicle's steering is secure and its body remains firmly planted when navigating corners at speed." -- CNET
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2021 Cadillac Escalade

MSRP: $76,195 - $105,995

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