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  • By John R. Quain

Super Cruise Goes Big in the 2021 Cadillac Escalade

Boasting curved OLED screens, air suspension, night vision, and augmented reality navigation, the technology-packed new 2021 Cadillac Escalade will give GM's Super Cruise a big boost later this year.

Super Cruise, the optional semi-autonomous driving system is the most advanced such technology available to consumers. It is the only available system designed to be used hands-free (and feet free), for example, and the only one that uses lidar-based maps to keep vehicles headed in the right direction. It now works on about 200,000 miles of highways in the U.S. and Canada. Initially, Super Cruise was only available on Cadillac CT6, so getting it on the Escalade is significant step.

Super Cruise in the 2021 Escalade

2021 Escalade Basics:

- a 6.2 liter V-8 is the only gas option with a 10 speed automatic transmission (there's a diesel option; but no plug-in hybrid)

- new multilink rear suspension means more interior space and better handling

- Magnetic Ride Control and air suspension allows for 4-inches of ground clearance adjustment (lower on the highway, higher on rocky roads)

- an optional LCD rear view "mirror" eliminates blind spots (even those caused by passengers' heads) by using a rear video camera: definitely worth it

- the front lower air dam is gone, replaced by front tire flaps that will help with aerodynamics but won't get torn off on country dirt roads

- the interior OLED screens are from LG and are beefed up to make them automotive grade (an industry first)

- the night vision option uses far infrared but it's passive, i.e., it only alerts drivers to the presence of people and animals in the dark but will not automatically brake the vehicle

- Pricing? Not available yet.

One major option Cadillac is touting is a 36-speaker AKG Studio Reference sound system. Boomers will recognize the brand as a standard in high fidelity headphones of yore. It's AKG first foray into car systems, and it includes noise canceling (to reduce engine issues) and engine enhancement (to improve those more pleasant mid-range rumblings).

Speaking of noise, there's considerable hype at GM about an all-electric future. But there's no hybrid version of the 2021 beast.

"It's a journey," said Jim Danahy, executive chief engineer at GM, referring to the EV future. Danahy is a GM veteran who assumed the chief engineer position over the next generation of full size trucks last fall.

I asked Danahy, so with everybody looking at electrics will this be the last of the great big, gas-guzzling SUVs?

"Range is still an issue" for consumers, said Danahy, so it's probably not the last of the Escalade redesigns. But he still thinks electrics are the future.

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