In-Car Tech

2021 Cadillac Escalade to feature first curved OLED screen in auto industry

Cadillac teased the curved screen with a short promo video.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The redesigned 2021 Cadillac Escalade will feature the first curved OLED screen in the automotive industry when it debuts on February 4. OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode.

"From the highway to the big screen, the Escalade has been embraced by drivers and fans around the world," said Steve Carlisle, Cadillac president. "We're excited to introduce the 2021 Escalade during Oscars week in February."

OLED screens have twice the pixel density as a 4K television allowing for crisper, clearer images and extraordinary color depth, including very dark blacks. The screen will have the largest color range available in the automotive industry.

The technology is already used in high-tech devices including smartphones, televisions, and computer monitors. Samsung has been employing the technology in its smartphones for nearly a decade. Aston Martin debuted the first OLED screen in a vehicle in its DB9.

The redesigned Escalade will ride on the same platform as the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban and 2020 Chevrolet Silverado and likely have similar dimensions to what it has in the current generation.

The Escalade is the top-selling SUV in its segment. Through the third quarter of 2019, the Detroit-based automaker has sold 30,000 of them globally. Escalade has about 25 percent market share in its segment in the U.S. according to J.D. Power PIN estimates.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Cadillac Escalade is one of the most luxurious SUVs you can buy.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac has given the 2021 Escalade the tagline "Never stop arriving" which seems apropos for a full-size SUV that shows up in nearly every way. Having undergone a complete redesign, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade finds itself securely at the top of the company's lineup showcasing the high-tech features and plush accommodations buyers are looking for.

The three-row SUV is built on the same platform as the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, and the GMC Yukon at the General Motors Arlington Assembly plant outside of Dallas. The platform is ridged and good, allowing the Escalade and its brethren to take on corners at speed without fear of coffee spilling.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury The Escalade continues to have a commanding presence on the street.Photo courtesy of Cadillac

That also means that it's big. Huge, in fact. But, the Escalade isn't so big it's unmanageable. Sure, you'll need a stepladder to see below the hood. But, how many Escalade owners are doing their own maintenance these days? Camera views help tremendously, as does safety technology.

As tested in the Premium Luxury trim, the two-wheel drive Escalade was powered by Cadillac's standard 6.2-liter V8 that's paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, a fresh addition to GM's offering list. The power plant delivers 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, just as it is in the SUV's full-size GM stablemates, and has the same SAE-certified horsepower and torque top-out points. It's a competent power plant but it works better in the Yukon Denali.

Why?

That's the big question. The two SUVs are nearly the same weight – pushing 5,800 pounds – and were similarly equipped underneath, as tested. Yet, the Escalade drove like it had a 1,000 pound-boulder strapped into the second row. It didn't feel as agile or swift as the Yukon, but also didn't give the feeling like you're towing when you're not.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury The Escalade's imposing body style is not so large that it proves unmanageable. Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The Escalade was test driven back-to-back-to-back with other vehicles in its segment, the Yukon and the Ford Expedition, and it proved to be, hands down, the least maneuverable. Those poor limousine service drivers in L.A. are not going to enjoy working their way up, and then back down the snaked driveways of the Hollywood elite in this Cadillac.

However, once they get on the road and are able to sit back and relax a touch with their clientele all buckled up, they're going to enjoy the drive. The tester wasn't equipped with GM's Super Cruise, which is a hands-free driver assist technology, but the addition would be a welcome one as the lane keep assist isn't as proactive as other systems from other automakers, and the massive Caddy requires a driver's full attention to stay in the lane.

The 2021 Escalade's massive standard 38-inch OLED screen display area is the highlight of the interior and likely the biggest talking point of the vehicle. Its layout is sensical, proves to not be distracting while driving, and supplies just the right amount of information without going overkill on moving graphics.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury The OLED display darkens to deep black at night, giving your drivers' eyes a rest.Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The best part of the tech, which is actually made up of three separate screens under the same thin housing, is that it quickly and smoothly goes to near-black, giving drivers the least amount of distraction possible while on the road at night. Its resolution is twice the pixel density of a 4K television.

Though a minor issue, the screen's design does not allow for turn signal indicators to be easily seen as they are positioned directly behind the steering wheel rim. With the indicator's generally soft tone, it's easy to miss when an indicator remains on when exiting a roundabout or merging into traffic.

Surrounding the Escalade's screen are a variety of appointments, some of which feel and look luxurious while others do not. These are, however, typical General Motors product quibbles. The synthetic materials on the dashboard, and thin leather door inserts are not as luxe as what you'll find in SUVs made by Cadillac's rivals. Not that anyone will notice them for long with the OLED elephant in the room.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury The layout of the OLED display is easy to understand and read on-the-fly. Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Seats in the Escalade are comfortable, providing ample room. No matter the row, the upholstery is well-executed and the ride is sublime as the suspension easily soaks up the road's imperfections. It's a vehicle the aforementioned elite won't mind being seen in and will look forward to riding in.

Along with its comfortable seats and enough legroom in all three rows for adults, one of the best parts of the Escalade is its sound system. It's the first vehicle with an AKG system (offered with either 19 (standard) or 36 speakers), and it pairs the system with an already-quiet cabin. The sound is all-encompassing for front row occupants and musical elements are separated, coming at you like you're at a concert, rather than listening to a glossed-over recorded session. Turning it up, the quality of the sound is not lost. D-E-lightful.

Individual technology elements of the Escalade are why buyers should choose it over the Yukon and the Lincoln Navigator. The OLED display, Super Cruise, and AKG sound system make the Cadillac a step up from its competition even though its drive feels like a step down.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Premium Luxury Cadillac has made the seats of the Escalade comfortable and appointed them well. Photo courtesy of Cadillac

The Cadillac Escalade is pricey. As tested it was well over $85,000, and that's just a mid-grade model. The Escalade faces stiff competition from the Yukon Denali, which comes in at least $15,000 cheaper and delivers a better drive experience. The similarly priced Navigator is also an elegant option that's sure to be upgraded with Ford's hands-free driving technology in the not-too-distant future.

There may be a sleeper competitor on the horizon. The Jeep Grand Wagoneer is set to debut soon and will likely rival the Escalade with its sound system and elegant design, and come with a similar price tag.

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The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq will be produced at GM's Tennessee plant.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

General Motors has already invested heavily into its first electric vehicle plant, the former Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center that is now Factory Zero. Now, the company has announced that its Spring Hill Manufacturing plant will be a second manufacturing base for electric vehicles.

The plant started its life as the home of the Saturn Corporation. It currently builds the Cadillac XT5 and XT6, and GMC Acadia. GM's release stated that the plant will continue to produce the Cadillacs and add the forthcoming 2023 Cadillac Lyriq to its assembly duties. Production of the Acadia will move to DM's Lansing Delta Township Assembly at the cost of $100 million. GM's Lansing plant is a LEED gold-certified automobile plant that currently produces the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse. The Acadias was made there until 2016 so the move is a homecoming of sorts.

2022 Chevrolet Traverse Chevrolet is refreshing the interior and exterior of its Traverse for 2022. Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

As part of the $2 billion investment into Spring Hill,GM will expand the plant's paint and body shop and comprehensively upgrade general assembly including new machines, conveyors, controls, and tooling. Work is slated to begin at the facility immediately.

Included in the $2 billion figure is $32 million to be invested at Flint Assembly (Michigan) for the future production of Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra heavy-duty pickup trucks. An additional $17 million will be invested in the company's Romulus, Michigan propulsion plant to increase the capability to produce GM's 10-speed truck transmission, which is used in a number of key GM products including its trucks and SUVs.

Two smaller amounts, $3.5 million and $750,000 will be invested at Orion Assembly and in Brownstown Charter Township, Michigan, respectively, in relation to the company's production of the Cruise AV test vehicle.

In the last 19 months, GM has committed to invest more than $4.5 billion at three U.S. manufacturing sites to prepare those facilities for EV-related vehicle production.

Separately, GM and LG Chem formed a joint venture – Ultium Cells LLC – and together are investing more than $2.3 billion to build a new battery cell manufacturing plant in Lordstown, Ohio next to Lordstown Motors HQ that will create more than 1,100 new jobs. Construction of the facility is underway.

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