Tag: luxury suv

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade review by Mark Elias Media Services

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade review by Mark Elias Media Services

Now in its fifth generation, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade has stepped up its game to the point where it truly is the standard of the world once again. At one time, limousines used to ply their trade, carrying A-list celebrities, politicians, dignitaries and even a bunch of crazed bridal parties before, during and after the nuptials. Now it’s the job of the luxury SUV. While the Escalade was paving the way towards future greatness, it wasn’t all that it could be.

Left hero Cadillac
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade is the perfect match for Camera Copter’s helicopters.

That was the past. In those days, it seemed the Escalade was always a Chevrolet Suburban or a GMC Yukon that had a Cadillac grille slapped on the front of it.

Not anymore.

For 2021, the Crest club has really moved upmarket with an Entirely new Escalade. It could be Cadillac’s last great hope to save the brand. Mark Elias Media Services had a chance to experience the new Escalade for a week. Here’s our report.

above hood escalade
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade is the perfect match for Camera Copter’s helicopters.

What’s new about the 2021 Cadillac Escalade?

  • It’s all-new for 2021
  • It has been stretched out a tiny bit
  • Super Cruise for near-autonomous driving is optional
  • Choice of engines including new 3.0-liter Diesel.
  • Available air suspension to supplement independent rear suspension.
  • Platinum models are pricey (some over $100,000)
  • Available in regular and XL sizes!

And just what is it?

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The 2021 Cadillac Escalade is parked alongside Camera Copter’s Hughes helicopter

The Cadillac Escalade is the fifth-gen luxury SUV from General Motors’ flagship brand. This latest version is a technological tour de force representing a quantum leap over previous models. It now rides on a specially-built ladder frame, which caters to more improved ride and handling. It’s a different arrangement than the tough truck-like box-frame underpinnings of other large luxury vehicles. This includes the outgoing 2020 model.

Power for the Escalade comes from a choice of two engines: the first, a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. This direct-injection engine features cylinder deactivation that will shut down four cylinders once cruising is achieved to save fuel. The second choice is the 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-6 cylinder engine, which is a no-cost option. This powerhouse makes 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft at a barely-breathing 1,500 rpm. It uses a diesel exhaust fluid reservoir filled with urea to “scrub” the diesel exhaust gas. It needs refilling approximately every oil change or 10,000 miles.

rear view Escalade
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade as seen from the rear view.

Both engines are mated to a stellar 10-speed automatic transmission. Our tester included the new Cadillac air ride adaptive suspension with magnetic ride control, which works to provide one of the smoothest and most isolated rides we have ever experienced in a luxury truck-based SUV. It is a GM product that has found its way into the new rear-engine Corvette Stingray and is used under licensing agreement in several Ferrari cars.

With all these features, it’s easy to see why some call this new Cadillac Escalade “the new King of the road.”

A jog around the 2021 Cadillac Escalade (as big as a) block.

Still looking every bit like the massive SUV that it is, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade features a newly designed front end with horizontal LED headlamps, vertical front lighting elements, three-dimensional taillights and a rear spoiler.

New 22-inch wheels are standard, while our Escalade 4WD Sport featured a large black mesh grille, and similar black features around the SUV. Our Premium model included a distinctive level of distinguished chrome brightwork both inside and out.

Speaking of inside…

Cadillac dashboard
The interior of the new 2021 Cadillac Escalade

This seven-passenger SUV has been re-engineered thanks to the addition of the independent rear suspension making its debut in the 2021 model. As a result, it has been designed with seats that ride lower and are positioned in a much roomier fashion. That redesign has opened up ten inches of extra legroom for third-row ADULT passengers.

There’s luxury everywhere. The sixteen-way power front seats offer massage and climatizing, depending on your needs and the ambient temperature. Middle-row seats are equipped with captain’s chairs, but if you need to transport up to eight people, the captain’s chairs can be replaced with a bench seat at no charge.

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The 2021 Cadillac Escalade touchscreen display.

Our Platinum Luxury version included a semi-aniline leather interior and a 36-speaker (!) AKG stereo system. Soft closed doors protected our sensitive ears from the sudden jolt of a door slam, while adaptive cruise control, automatic reverse braking and Magnetic Ride Control with Air Suspension helped to soften the ride and protect the passengers inside.

Magic Carpet Ride!

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The 2021 Cadillac Escalade 2nd row.

That’s exactly what it feels like in the 2021 Cadillac Escalade 4WD Sport Platinum model. We can’t get that Steppenwolf song out of our head now, damn it! But crank up the 36 speakers from the AKG audio system. It will be good for you!

Behind the wheel, you’ll feel like you are in the cab of a big rig because in all actuality, you are. Thankfully this feels nicer than a Peterbilt or a Kenworth. Power from the big 6.2-liter V8 is satisfying, especially when you consider the Escalade is tipping the scales at over 5,600 pounds. That’s almost three-tons of fun!

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The three rows of the 2021 Cadillac Escalade.

The Escalade’s new infotainment system with the 38-inch display is certainly impressive, with its directions that overlay on a live camera feed of the road ahead. It’s just the thing to keep you heading in the right direction. Which, after all, is the goal of life in the first place.

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade is on sale now.

Our sincere thanks to Paul Barth and Camera Copters for the assistance in making these photos. He is the best in the business for Aerial Cinematography piloting a variety of platforms. You’ve seen his work on Television and in Film. You just might not have realized it!

2022 Infiniti QX55 First Drive Experience

2022 Infiniti QX55 First Drive Experience

The Infiniti lineup has been substantially overdue for a product portfolio refresh. With that in mind, the 2022 Infiniti QX55 was the right vehicle to get the ball rolling. The company introduced their new fastback crossover SUV with a staggered mid-pandemic launch that was both innovative, and at times, tedious. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

In the case of the 2022 Infiniti QX55, reacting in desperation sometimes leads to a masterstroke. Read on as we take a look at this new coupe’-style four-door fastback CUV. We think you’ll like what you see.

Infiniti QX55
The new Infiniti at North Palm Beach Marina.

What moves the 2022 Infiniti QX55?

The Infiniti QX55 is the first Japanese-designed sportback CUV available in North America. Using baasic bones found on the QX50, Infiniti created a design that was pioneered by German automakers and now adopted by others, including the Brits and mid-continent Europeans, it offers a stylish rear hatchback body with four-doors and room for five passengers. Its target audience is younger city dwellers desiring sports car styling with carry-all capabilities. The Infiniti QX55 is manufactured in Mexico.

the 2022 Infiniti QX55 engine
The 2.0-liter VC Turbo inline-4 cylinder engine.

Our slate gray launch vehicle is available with only one engine option. But it is a good one. The award-winning Infiniti 2.0-liter VC-Turbo engine delivers 268 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm and 280 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400-4,800 rpm. Its innovation is in its name: VC stands for variable-compression, and this engine seamlessly alters its compression ratio between 8:1 and 14:1 for improved power and efficiency as necessary. A patented multilink system can vary the piston’s stroke, based on the driver’s needs at any moment. It is mounted within the engine room via an active torque rod mount to dampen any extraneous vibrations from finding their way into the QX55 interior. According to Infiniti, it is the world’s first production variable-compression turbocharged engine.

Intelligent All-Wheel Drive.

The torque from the 2.0-liter finds its way to the pavement via a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with standard steering-wheel-mounted paddle shift levers. Regardless of the trim level you select, your QX55 will be equipped with Infiniti’s Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive system. This “smart” AWD is designed to send up to 50-percent of the available torque to the rear wheels when sensors determine that better grip is needed. The system offers grip on low-friction surfaces or during takeoff. It can also be set to drive the front wheels only.

QX from the Side
The QX55 in profile.

Helping to drive our QX was Infiniti’s optional Direct Adaptive Steering that, through sensors, helps to optimize the steering feel. With this system, the driver can personalize steering modes with a specific feel for each driving style. The system works on an active basis, changing at various speeds for specific maneuverability.

The QX55 uses Active Brake Limited Slip systems to brake individual wheels for better grip but to engage Active Trace Control to brake inside wheels at entry, mid-corner or exit. Think of it as brake-based torque vectoring.

An Infiniti QX55 walkaround.

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The origami grille found on the new Infiniti QX55.

Sure the trademarked Infiniti grille is here, looking more spectacular than ever thanks to the ribbon-like detail work that forms the origami-inspired double-arch grille. But something else makes the QX55 stand out: The roofline. Infiniti chief designer Taisuke Nakamura said, “with its unmistakable bold presence and uncompromised looks, thanks to its dramatic roofline, the QX55 is a beacon for style among Infiniti crossovers.”

And it did attract attention. We at Mark Elias Media were surprised at the number of people who approached us to ask about it. What surprised us more were those who actually knew the QX55 was soon to be introduced.

QX55 Monaco red
Zero Gravity seats in Monaco Red.

Inside this new Infiniti, we found a lot to like. Starting with the layout of controls in the driver-oriented cabin. The first thing we notice is the blindingly bright Monaco red interior covering the Infiniti “Zero-Gravity” seats. We like them more than any other for their comfort and fatigue-fighting design.

Trim enhancements in our demonstrator included aluminum bits throughout. They combined with dark maple open-pore wood trim to offer a spectacular counterpoint to the red leather. It’s music to the eyes. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make their way into the Infiniti QX55, allowing the driver to go hand and cable-free.

Music to the ears comes from the Bose Performance Series audio system with 16-speakers. Using Bose’s Centerpoint 2 Technology, the system automatically converts two-channel stereo sound into a surround-sound listening session using software to restore previously compressed digital music. The musical building blocks can be restored to a full concert hall-like experience using advanced digital signal processing.

interior QX
The QX55 Interior.

The second row of the QX55 is no slouch either. Moveable rear seating slides forward or backward up to six inches for more legroom or more cargo room. Speaking of cargo area, there are 26.9 cubic feet of it behind the rear seat. Tumble the second-row seats forward and that area jumps to 54.1 cubic feet.

Behind the wheel of the QX55.

Our QX55 was eager to please thanks to the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and the ‘55’s all-wheel-drive system. Acceleration was brisk but was kept out of the cabin thanks to the acoustic glass featured throughout. The glass received an assist from the specially-stamped floor pans designed to work like baffles in a recording studio, eliminating reverberation through asynchronous harmonics.

Our slate gray example included the available ProPILOT Assist that helps control the QX55 via steering, acceleration, braking and lane-centering features. It’s a step towards autonomous driving but requires a set of hands on the wheel, which tends to cause the fatigue that the assist is supposed to eliminate.

The new Infiniti QX55 offers a refined and engaging look at the future of Infiniti. Our time was brief with this new Slate Gray sled but we eagerly await our next go-round but as the Kinks used to sing, Yeah, you really got me going.

How much will the Infiniti QX55 cost?

Base MSRP for the 2022 Infiniti QX55 is $46,500, rising to $57,050.