2021 Cadillac Escalade ESV: Take a Long Look at the Longer ’Slade
Just like the stubby ’21 Escalade, the ESV kicks Cadillac's full-size SUV up several notches.
Cadillac's latest Escalade is loaded with new, new, new, which includes everything from its new independent rear suspension to its newly price-appropriate luxe interior to its available diesel engine. Pretty much the only constants in the Escalade's world are that it's still a chunky, flashy full-size luxury SUV and it's once again available in short- and long-wheelbase Escalade and Escalade ESV forms. When Cadillac pulled the wraps off the all-new SUV earlier this year, the brand pulled the proverbial sheet off of only the shorter 'Slade. Now, Cadillac is offering us our first look (in the metal) at the larger 2021 Escalade ESV.
That is about all Cadillac is offering at this point: A peek. The automaker released limited photography and detail about the newest ESV, promising simply that it would offer "the same bold-design and cutting-edge technologies as the short-wheelbase Escalade." The automaker claims the ESV will share broad strokes with the regular Escalade, including the smaller model's switch from an old-school solid rear axle to a more refined, modern independent rear suspension setup; incredible curved OLED interior display; and available Super Cruise semi-autonomous driver assistance tech.
The Escalade ESV Is More Bigger
Compared to its smaller sibling, the 2021 Escalade ESV is 15.9 inches longer and sits on a 13.2-inch longer wheelbase, for totals of 226.9 inches and 134.1 inches, respectively. Both represent gains of several inches relative to the previous ESV and mimic the size relationships between the less-expensive 2021 Chevrolet Suburban and its smaller Tahoe sibling (as well as the GMC Yukon XL and Yukon). The dimensional increases are a boon to rear-seat space—both in the second and third rows. Expect a roomier interior, too, thanks to the Cadillac's larger body and its more efficient cabin packaging—a result of that new rear-end suspension.
Cadillac has revealed some cargo dimensions for the ESV, and predictably, they're more generous than those of the shorter Escalade. Fold the second- and third-row seats down, and the Escalade ESV can swallow 142.8 cubic feet of cargo behind the first row, an 18.1-percent improvement over its predecessor and a full 21 cubic feet more than the non-ESV model holds. Similar to before, the ESV soundly bests the regular Escalade in cargo volume behind its third-row (i.e., without any seats folded). The 2021 Escalade holds 25.5 cubic feet back there, but the ESV can fit 41.1 cubes aft of the third row.
Same Tech, Longer Body
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade ESV benefits from the same shockingly improved interior as its smaller sibling. It'll also offer the same 38.0-inch-diagonal OLED screen that yawns from the space ahead of the driver to the center of the Escalade's dashboard. The screen is really three in one, with a 7.2-inch touchscreen to the left of the driver, a 14.2-inch digital gauge cluster, and another 16.9-inch touchscreen to the right of that. The central display includes some augmented-reality functions, and it can also be manipulated via a control knob on the center console.
Everything else the driver and passengers interact with is more upscale than before, and Cadillac has gone overboard on the audio system: An AKG surround-sound setup that, in the shorter Escalade, comes standard with 19 speakers. An optional Studio Reference package ups the speaker count to 36 and adds 3-D audio. Given the ESV's extra real estate inside, it might offer even more speakers in its standard and optional configurations.
Same Muscle, New Diesel
As before, the Escalade ESV is powered by the same 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8 engine as the Escalade. The V-8 is upgraded slightly, with its cylinder deactivation feature being turned in for GM's fancy new Dynamic Fuel Management. (This setup uses a new concept for shutting down cylinders when not needed; instead of simply shutting off half the cylinders, so that the V-8 runs as a four-cylinder, it selectively skips firing certain cylinders in real-time response to engine load.) It also now bolts up to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Even though Cadillac hasn't explicitly said so, the ESV should be available with the regular 'Slade's no-cost diesel engine option. The engine, shared with the lesser Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and GMC Yukon SUVs, is a 277-hp 3.0-liter Duramax inline-six; it makes the same 460 lb-ft of torque as the gas V-8 and is expected to be much more efficient.
Buyers should be able to specify rear- or all-wheel drive for their 2021 Escalade ESVs, and the longer model should offer the same trio of suspension setups as its shorter sibling: A coil-sprung standard suspension, the same springs but with GM's excellent Magnetorheological adaptive dampers, and an adjustable air-sprung arrangement with the fancier dampers.
We've put out a request to Cadillac for more details on the Escalade ESV, including whether or not it will offer any limousine-style rear seating options that take advantage of the model's more spacious interior and befit its higher price. How much higher? The short-wheelbase 2021 Escalade starts at $77,490—you'll pay at least $80,490 for the ESV. The ESV is expected to offer the same Luxury and Sport model lines as its smaller sibling. We anticipate the ESV will be offered in base, Premium, and range-topping Platinum trims, as well.