The 2021 Cadillac Escalade 4WD Sport Platinum is the most expensive model sold by General Motors. But its brand cachet makes it the ideal pinnacle fleet vehicle to help retain high-value senior...

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade 4WD Sport Platinum is the most expensive model sold by General Motors. But its brand cachet makes it the ideal pinnacle fleet vehicle to help retain high-value senior execs with a high-value luxury SUV.

Photo: Mike Antich

I drive many all-new models during the course of a year as evaluation vehicles. My focus in the evaluation is on my behind-the-wheel experience, but what stood out driving the 2021 Cadillac Escalade 4WD Sport Platinum model was its brand cachet, illustrated by the reactions of other motorists to the vehicle with unsolicited thumbs up or from people who approached me in parking lots to ask admiring questions.

Although this is the fifth generation of the Escalade, which debuted in the 1999 model-year, this was the first time I actually drove the vehicle for an extended period.

Until now, I really under-appreciated the cachet of the Escalade brand. While you might not think of the Escalade as a fleet vehicle, the more I drove it, I appreciated  how it could be a powerful retention tool to reward and retain high-value senior execs.

Driving Impressions

What stood out for me as a positive first impression was the Escalade’s interior cabin, which exudes luxury and is loaded with hi-tech features. One of the standout features of the vehicle is the infotainment system, which is state of the art. 

It  features a massive three-screen touchscreen system, whose display is intuitive to operate. The most prominent feature is the curved OLED display that flows around the dash, which is the first automotive application.

Behind the wheel, the Escalade sits high, giving the driver a commanding view of the road ahead. The steering felt precise, which is important when maneuvering a large vehicle in tight quarters. The brakes were responsive creating an effortless feel while driving in stop-and-go traffic. The new independent rear suspension provides a very smooth ride. It also eliminates the wheel wells in the third row, which enables a flat load floor and fold-flat third row seats. There is also a hands-free power liftgate.

Safety with Power

There is ample safety technologies in the 2021 Escalade with an impressive array of advanced driver-assisted technologies that include enhanced automatic braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, reverse automatic braking, front pedestrian braking, brake pad monitor, and more. In addition, there is a suite of seven airbags, which includes airbags for occupants in all rows and seat-mounted side airbags for the driver and front-seat passenger.

The standard engine is a powerful 6.2L V-8 that delivers smooth power capable of generating an impressive 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque.

The engine is mated to an outstanding 10-speed transmission that is electronically controlled with barely perceptible shifts and features a tow/haul mode, allowing it to tow up to 8,200 pounds.

Three-Row Seating

The Escalade offers three-row seating and depending on whether you get a middle row bench seat or bucket chairs, it offers seating for seven to eight occupants.

For front row occupants, the seats are 12-way power-adjustable seats with standard heating and vented for cooling, along with a heated steering wheel.

About the author
Mike Antich

Mike Antich

Former Editor and Associate Publisher

Mike Antich covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and was inducted into the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Global Fleet of Hal in 2022. He also won the Industry Icon Award, presented jointly by the IARA and NAAA industry associations.

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