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Cadillac Escalade 2021: full-size American SUV luxury could come to Australia

2 months ago

The Cadillac Escalade is an iconic name plate in the United States and while it has never stepped foot into the Australia market, that could all be about to change.


The fifth-generation of the Cadillac Escalade is the biggest, brashest and most luxurious SUV to ever roll out of the stables of parent company General Motors. 

And with Australians showing a ferocious appetite for large SUVs and full-sized American pick-up trucks such as the Ram 1500, many believe it is finally time for the Cadillac Escalade to make its debut appearance in the Australian market.

Cadillac Escalade 2021 rear
The Cadillac Escalade could be making its way to Australia for the first time

The Cadillac Escalade would likely be sold by the newly formed GMSV, a partnership between General Motors and Walkinshaw Automotive Group, who already convert the Chevrolet Silverado ute, and previously converted the Camaro sports car, at their factory at Clayton in Melbourne.

Last year saw the final nail in the Holden coffin with GMSV replacing HSV as the official converter and distributor of GM stock. The disruption saw the brand only move 36 units in 2020 – all of which were Silverado models – at a time when rival Ram sold 3,320 trucks in Australia.

Cadillac Escalade 2021 front interior
The interior is filled out with a huge amount of technology including a 16.9-inch screen

Ed Finn, a spokesperson at GMSV, told Chasing Cars they would be spending this year settling into the Australian market, with the Silverado continuing on and the highly-anticipated Chevrolet Corvette arriving towards the end of 2021.

“We just want to get the brand established and up and running, and run with the Silverado 1500, Silverado 2500 and Corvette,” he said.

Cadillac Escalade 2021 second row
The Escalade seats seven people with a pair of captains chairs sitting in the second row

Mr Finn said the company were keeping themselves shortsighted for 2021, and would be closely watching the performance of the three models before they decided to expand their line up.

“There is a lot of attention on 2021 and especially at the end of the year with the Corvette, so we’ll just focus on those [models] at the moment.”

If all goes well, industry pundits say the next move could be towards the Cadillac Escalade with Australian’s already showing they are willing to pay the premium for a large American vehicle.

Cadillac Escalade 2021 boot
Up to 3,426 litres of boot space is available when the second and third-rows are laid down

While the Escalade is already a highly specified vehicle even in its base form, the variants that make it to Australia would likely be from the higher trim levels and would command a significant premium over what they cost in the United States.

The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ costs $54,695 USD in the United States, about AUD$72,000 at the time of writing, but by the time it has been shipped and remanufactured in Australia as the LTZ Premium Edition that cost balloons out to AUD$113,990 before on-road costs.

That premium is largely made up of taxes – such as import taxes – expensive Australian labour and new materials that are used to convert the vehicle to right-hand-drive – while also adding a range of various parts to create a more premium and suitable model for Australian buyers.

Chevrolet Silverado 2500
The Silverado will continue to be sold in Australia for 2021

The cost increase of around 37 per cent means Cadillac Escalade buyers could expect to pay between $145,000 AUD for the base 4×4 Luxury variant to $190,000 AUD for the top-spec 4×4 Premium Luxury Platinum. 

Such pricing would make the Cadillac Escalade competitive with the BMW X7 and Mercedes-Benz GLS in Australia. Both German-badged SUVs are made in the United States in factory right-hand-drive.

The BMW X7 costs between $133,900 and $179,900 locally, while the Mercedes-Benz GLS starts at $147,100 before ballooning to $255,700 in AMG GLS 63 form.

Cadillac Escalade 2021 front
Even with a 37 per cent increase the Escalade would be still be priced competitive to take on its German rivals

The fifth-generation Escalade was first revealed in the United States at the beginning of 2020 and was seen to be a noticeable step up in establishing itself as a worthy contender in the luxury American market.

Sitting beneath the latest Escalade is the new GMT1XX body-on-frame platform that underpins the likes of the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon, as well as the large Chevrolet Silverado ute.

Like the Silverado, the Escalade is a huge vehicle; measuring 5.38 metres long in the standard version or 5.77 metres with the long wheelbase, it is considerably larger than large SUVs such as the BMW X7 which is still quite sizable at 5.15 metres. 

Cadillac Escalade 2021 engine
The Escalade is available with either a 6.2-litre V8 petrol or straight-six diesel

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade features an independent front and multi-link rear suspension – and optional air suspension – that is said to give the land-yacht an incredibly plush ride while retaining competent on-road dynamics. 

A choice of two engines are offered, a 6.2-liter V8 petrol making 313kW of power and 624Nm of torque or a more efficient three-litre six inline diesel engine making 207kW/624Nm. Both engines are paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission with the choice of either rear or all-wheel drive.

The seven-seater SUV also features an astonishing 722 litres of boot space with all three rows up or 3,426 litres if the second and third-row and both folded down. Despite its size, getting in shouldn’t be too difficult either, with the optional air suspension able to drop the Escalade 51mm closer to the ground.

2019 BMW X7 rear 3/4
The X7 is a large vehicle at over five-metres but is still some half a metre shorter than a long-wheelbase Escalade

Those in the front seat will also be treated to a huge array of screens with a 7.2-inch touchscreen between the driver and the window, a 14.2-inch digital instrument cluster and a huge 16.9-inch OLED centre-touchscreen that curves around the driver. 

The Cadillac Escalade would be without a direct rival in Australia, but would likely compete with other large luxury SUVs such as the Mercedes-Benz GLE (from $166,336 before on-roads) for refinement or the Lexus LX (from $146,636 before on-roads) for its capable Toyota LandCruiser underpinnings.