Can the 2021 Cadillac Escalade Compare to the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class?

2021 Cadillac Escalade vs Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class 64 photos
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For Europeans, SUVs don't really get any larger than the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class. In fact, not even they sell too well over there, and the people who buy them do so more for prestige than for the actual want of interior space.
Their main markets are the North American and Chinese ones, and it's the former where the GLS will come up against local models such as the Lincoln Navigator or, more relevantly to this clip, the Cadillac Escalade. Essentially a more upmarket Chevrolet Suburban (in its ESV form, or a Chevrolet Tahoe in its standard shape), the Escalade has long been the pinnacle of the GM SUV experience.

It's never been as good as the 2021 model, though. The changes start with the exterior design which is now comprehensively more modern and somewhat more discreet - as discreet as something the size of a small freight train can be. Gone are the vertical headlights replaced by a pair of slimmer horizontal ones instead and, while the grille remains just as big, it gets a black mesh finish in the Sport Platinum trim level that does a very good job of hiding its size.

If the exterior seems impressive, it's actually inside where the most important changes happen. The 2021 range-topper gets all the gadgets one might expect from a modern vehicle, including a 39-inch curved display or a head-up display. There's also a 36-speaker AKG sound system but, as one of the hosts of the clip below discovered, the bass it produces can be a little too much for the poor HUD, with the vibration occasionally making the image fuzzy.

In terms of power, the Escalade can be had with either a 3.0-liter V6 diesel with 277 hp (yuck!) or a 6.2-liter V8 engine with 420 hp (better), both mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission. Neither makes the cumbersome SUV particularly sprite, but the correct choice is obvious, nevertheless.

Is all this enough to make the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class feel threatened? Well, yes and no. In terms of space, there's really no contest whatsoever. If you need more than five seats constantly, then the Escalade is the only real option out of the two. If you don't, the two presenters argue that a fully-specced GLE-Class would be a better choice. Unless, of course, that prestige we talked about earlier kicks in and you just need to have "the S-Class of SUVs", though in reality you'd only be kidding yourself.

So, to answer the question in the title, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade does compare to the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, and in plenty of cases even favorably. The GM brand has turned a page and come up with a much-improved model, one that can compete with the very best. Watch the clip below for a much more detailed analysis but more or less the same conclusion.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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