2021 Cadillac Escalade Technology: Industry Firsts for the Luxe SUV
OLED Displays, Audio Advancements, and Super Cruise Make the Jump to the SUV Segment
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade is an incredible piece of machinery, offering all of the bold American style, Caddy-spec roominess, and effortless power we've come to expect of the SUV. But previous iterations of the fullsize luxury sport-ute look crude in comparison to the all-new Cadillac Escalade technology suite.
Cutting-Edge OLED Screen Tech
Seemingly taking inspiration from in-home entertainment, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade boasts the auto industry's first-ever application of OLED technology. The curved display inside the SUV reduces distraction by using a landscape orientation—the company claims that the vertical touchscreens one might see in a Volvo XC90 or Tesla Model X force the driver to look down and further away from the road ahead.
The three individual OLED screens—a 7.2-inch Control Panel driver info center, 14.2-inch Cluster Display, and 16.9-inch infotainment system—offer twice the pixel density of a 4K home television, guaranteeing crystal-clear screen displays. Let's hope the Cadillac's graphics software is up to the challenge of minimizing lag. Because OLED technology is capable of brighter projection capabilities, Escalade designers were able to omit the "hood" seen on some competitors' displays, providing a cleaner and more open appearance.
Cadillac Escalade technology advances don't stop at the OLED displays, as far as the interior is concerned. Optional augmented-reality navigation helps drivers more easily discern route suggestions and turn-by-turn directions. The Escalade also comes standard with Surround Vision, providing a 2-megapixel, 360-degree view of the vehicle at low speeds. The optional Trailering Integration Package bundles up to nine camera views to support easier hitching and hauling, as well as blind spot monitoring that accounts for the trailer's length.
Night vision provides a clearer view of pedestrians and animals on the road ahead thanks to infrared technology—Cadillac pioneered this sort of technology on the 2000 Deville and advanced it for the CT6 flagship sedan. Finally, a new rear seat entertainment system boasts twin 12.6-inch displays, as well as Rear Seat Navigation that allows passengers to suggest destinations to the front nav screen for the driver to accept or reject. And soft-close doors make their debut on the Escalade for 2021, eliminating uncouth hard slams.
The Five Senses of Cadillac Escalade Technology
Befitting its darling status among musicians and pop culture mavens, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade boasts some commendable audio cred.AKG, Harman's premium/professional audio brand, partnered with Cadillac to develop its first-ever automotive sound system. An available 36-speaker (!) AKG Studio Reference system was designed to convey sound as it was produced, courtesy of three amplifiers with 28 total channels. The standard audio system is a still-impressive 19-speaker AKG Studio system, boasting a 14-channel amplifier and enclosed subwoofer.
On either system, Studio 3D Surround sends audio to the speakers strategically, providing an immersive, directional sound stage. Conversation Enhancement picks up each occupant's voice through an embedded microphone and sends that sound elsewhere in the cabin. Audio rendering for the navigation system means turn-by-turn prompts are reproduced directionally (right speakers for right turns, left speakers for left turns), making navigation more intuitive. And the Studio Reference system also includes passenger volume control, allowing either front occupant to fine-tune their audio experience.
Cruise Control—On Steroids
Cadillac's novel Super Cruise technology marks the first time semi-autonomous driver-assistance technology will appear on a fullsize luxury SUV. Making the jump from the CT6 sedan, Super Cruise is arguably the best driver-assist suite in the industry, better even than Tesla Autopilot.
It enables hands-free driving on more than 200,000 miles of North American roadways, according to Cadillac, by using lidar map data and high-precision GPS. Advanced driver monitoring technology alerts the human behind the wheel if they need to pay more attention to the road ahead, easing concerns for those of us with Luddite tendencies.
Escalade Steps Into the Future
We've always loved the Cadillac Escalade for its bold style, but there's no denying that it's been an automotive dinosaur ever since its introduction. Trimming a Chevrolet Tahoe with wood appliques, upgraded leather trim, and added exterior glitz do not always equate to "Standard of the World" luxury. But now, this fifth-generation Escalade promises more to its customers than a gilded GMC, with industry- and segment-leading interior, audio, and driving technology. Whether it works as well in the real world as it does on a spec chart remains to be seen, but finally, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade offers more than just bling.