What to expect from Cadillac's next-gen flagship SUV
Lincoln redesigned the Navigator a few years ago, giving it an improved ride, stunning exterior, and an interior that’s nothing short of opulent. As it stands now, the older Escalade just isn’t as refined as the Navigator, but Cadillac will have the chance to catch up when it introduces the next-generation SUV next year.
So what should we expect? The Escalade will likely share front end design cues with other new Cadillacs such as the CT5, CT6, XT4, and XT6. That should mean slender headlights and a similar shield-like grille shape, although the grille will be much larger than on other Cadillacs. Also, don’t expect the three-row SUV to give up its boxy figure. The square-shaped rear should look more sculpted than the old model, and it will likely continue to adopt vertical taillights. Check out these exclusive renderings for a better idea of how we think Cadillac’s next-gen flagship SUV will look.
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade will stay true to its body-on-frame heritage, so expect it to share hardware and other components with the forthcoming Tahoe and Yukon. It will benefit from improvements in refinement, performance, and quality being injected into GM’s next-gen pickup and full-size SUV architecture. The Escalade will receive an independent rear suspension and air springs for improved ride quality. And by ditching the live axle, GM can lower the floor at the rear, allowing for more space in the third row. No Escalade EXT pickup is in the works.
Stricter fuel regulations may have automakers worried around the world, but the V-8 lives on. Cadillac is likely to stick with the 6.2-liter V-8 that currently makes 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. It’s also likely the Escalade will add a V-badged variant packing a supercharged V-8 that delivers north of 600 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque (the unit in the outgoing CTS-V makes 640 hp and 630 lb-ft of torque). Both engines will be paired with the 10-speed automatic co-developed by GM and Ford.
Of course, expect major interior improvements to keep the SUV worthy of the Escalade name. If it wants to compete with Navigator, it should get a bigger touchscreen than the current 8.0-inch unit and lose the clunky steering column-mounted gear selector. The Escalade won’t have Super Cruise next year at launch, but it should come eventually. Super Cruise begins to roll out to future vehicles in 2020, and in most cases, it will be added in the second or third model year.