The 2021 Cadillac Escalade’s high-tech dash says excess is back in style

Chris Davies - Dec 16, 2019, 12:06 pm CST
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The 2021 Cadillac Escalade’s high-tech dash says excess is back in style

Cadillac’s 2021 Escalade won’t just have presence from the road, but on the dashboard too, with the upcoming luxury SUV promising a vast curved OLED screen. Billed as the first use of curved OLED in a production vehicle, the new Escalade’s huge panel will measure in at over 38-inches, the automaker has said today.

General Motors’ luxury division hasn’t shared full imagery of what we can expect from the 2021 Escalade, either inside or out. Instead all we have to go on is a brief render of the upcoming OLED dashboard. Even that, though, is enough to whet the appetite.

The curved screen encompasses both the driver’s digital instrumentation and the center display at the top of the dashboard. The current Escalade has two separate panels for that, a 12.3-inch LCD instrumentation cluster and then an 8-inch LCD touchscreen in the center console. That supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and comes with navigation and 4G LTE as standard.

The new Escalade, though, should be more impressive still – and not just when it comes to sheer inches. Cadillac is making big boasts about its resolution, promising twice the pixel density of a 4K television, for example. It’s also talking up the “bold imagery, perfect blacks and the largest color range available in the automotive industry” from the OLED technology.

Exactly what you’ll be able to do with that display remains to be seen. Manufacturers with digital instrumentation typically offer a selection of layouts with customizable graphics, often changing them automatically according to the drive mode that the car is set to. In Sport mode, for example, metrics like engine speed are generally prioritized; in Eco mode, in contrast, fuel efficiency indicators take the fore.

One possibility is a greater amount of information from the Super Cruise system. The new Escalade is expected to be the next vehicle in Cadillac’s line-up to offer the hands-free driver assistance system, following its debut on the CT6 sedan. Super Cruise relies on extra-precise mapping to offer adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping on divided highways.

Drivers don’t need to touch the wheel as they do in rival systems, Cadillac instead using an attention-monitoring camera on the steering column to make sure the driver is watching the road ahead. A light bar in the upper portion of the steering wheel is used to communicate system status, glowing red if the driver is deemed to be insufficiently inattentive. Although the system currently cannot handle lane changes by itself, relying on the human at the wheel to make the switch before resuming its control, Cadillac is believed to be readying that technology for a future iteration.

The Escalade has been a long-time success for Cadillac, not least for its outsized representation in rap videos as a symbol of conspicuous luxury. Even with a new model incoming in 2020, sales have remained relatively strong. Cadillac reported more than 3,400 sales of the SUV in the US in September 2019 alone, up by more than 200 units compared to the same month the previous year.

Still, Cadillac at the forefront of GM’s plans for electrification, and there’s no small degree of curiosity as to how the traditionally-excessive Escalade might fit into that EV roadmap. We’ll know more on February 4, 2020, when the 2021 Escalade makes its official debut.


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