|355||Base Horsepower (HP)||277|
|144.7||Max Cargo Space (cu.ft.)||121|
|16 / 20||Max Fuel Economy (MPG)||15 / 20|
We are living in an automotive world dominated by SUVs, so when it comes to choosing the best vehicle to help you cart your family, move your stuff, and even pull a trailer from time to time, the amount of choices you have at your fingertips is bound to be overwhelming. When it comes to three-row SUVs, the Chevrolet Suburban and the Cadillac Escalade have been dominating the segment for over 20 years. These names have become burned into the American psyche as the rulers of the full-sized SUVs, and for good reason. With years of engineering expertise backing the brands, both Chevy and Cadillac aren’t going to disappoint drivers with a product that’s anything less than spectacular. So what really are the differences between the 2021 Chevy Suburban vs 2021 Cadillac Escalade?
Using the soon-to-be-released 2021 Chevy Suburban and the 2021 Cadillac Escalade as examples, let’s do an apples-to-apples comparison to determine which of these vehicles deserves the place of honor in your garage- assuming you have clearance for an SUV that’s large and in charge. While every family is going to have their own individual set of needs, Chevy is known for their highly customizable vehicles, while Cadillac has had its finger on the pulse of luxury for so long, churning out highly desirable vehicles has become intuitive. But should you buckle down for a Suburban, or spring for the Escalade?
When it comes to driving an SUV of this size, power really does make a difference. Three-row SUVs have to have enough juice to move 7-8 passengers, a full load of cargo, and/or be able to tow at least a small load. So how do the Suburban and the Escalade compare in this regard?
The Suburban has been around since 1933, so it’s a fair assumption that Chevrolet has prepared a selection of big engines to go with their big vehicle.
The standard engine offering for the 2021 Suburban is a 5.3L V8 that offers 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. When properly outfitted, this engine can tow up to 8,300 pounds. Drivers of the High Country trim will be treated to a standard 6.2L Ecotec3 V8 engine, which brings with it 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. The towing maximum on this engine drops slightly to 8,200 pounds, but it stands to reason that hauling a large road will be that much smoother and enjoyable with an exceptional leap in power. Lastly, a 3.0L Duramax Turbo-Diesel is slated to arrive later in the year. Details on this engine are few at this point, but early reports indicate 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, along with availability on most trim levels.
Hand-in-hand with power comes fuel economy. The Chevy Suburban 5.3L engine can manage 16 MPG in the city and 20 MPG on the highway, making it's combined fuel economy 18 MPG. The 6.2L is only slightly varied with 15 MPG city and 20 MPG highway, making its combined MPG 17. Fuel details for the turbo-diesel are still in the wings. Four-wheel drive is an available option for these engines as well, but only brings the fuel economy down by 1 MPG combined.
Over on Cadillac’s side, it would stand to reason that the Escalade has been given a heavy dose of luxury and comfort, but does it have the power to match the ride?
The standard engine on the 2021 Escalade is a 6.2L V8 that offers 420 horsepower and 460 lb/ft of torque. Like the Suburban, Escalades come standard with rear-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive is optional. The rear-wheel version of this engine can tow up to 8,200 pounds, while four-wheel drive drops that to around 8,000 pounds. A 3.0L six-cylinder diesel engine is also available for Escalade drivers, providing 277 horsepower and 460 lb/ft of torque. This engine can tow up to 8,000 pounds with rear-wheel drive and 7,800 with four-wheel drive.
As far as fuel economy, the 2021 Escalade averages quite similarly to the Suburban, with 15 miles per gallon city and 20 miles per gallon highway for rear-wheel drive models. Four-wheel drive drops the fuel economy down to 14 MPG city and 19 MPG highway. Also, like the Suburban, fuel economy for the diesel engine has not yet been announced.
Plenty of jokes are thrown about comparing full-sized SUVs to combat tanks. Still, no vehicle is impervious to the perils of road hazards, parking lot misjudgments, and blind spots.
Chevrolet has demonstrated throughout their lineup that safety is something they take quite seriously. The 2021 Suburban is no exception. Standard on all Suburbans are several driver assistance features, including automatic emergency braking with forward collision alert, which work together to prevent forward-moving collisions with other vehicles, obstacles, and even pedestrians, with the front pedestrian braking feature. A following distance indicator is also part of the display, which shows the gap time in seconds between your vehicle and that in front of you. Automatic high beams are another very handy feature, which automatically dims brights at night when oncoming traffic is detected.
Additional available safety features, which may be standard on higher trims, include adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane change alert with blind zone alert, high definition surround vision, and the safety seat alert, which uses seat vibrations instead of sounds to warn drivers of impending danger.
Cadillac also demonstrates a strong commitment to the safety of everyone on the road. The standard safety features on the 2021 Escalade include automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, high-definition surround vision, front pedestrian braking, and rear pedestrian alert, as well as a safety alert seat.
More and more features are added to this suite as the trims elevate. The Premium Luxury Escalade includes the Driver Awareness Plus Package, which adds rear cross traffic alert, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, and lane keep assist with lane departure warning, along with a rear camera mirror with an automatic self-washing system.
Cadillac’s brand new Super Cruise system also makes an appearance on the 2021 Escalade. This automated driving system offers hands-free driving… but only on highways that have been specifically mapped and programmed into the Super Cruise system. Currently, that totals around 200,000 highway miles. Super Cruise is an available option for Premium Luxury models and above.
Also optional on the 2021 Premium Luxury trim and above is night vision, which displays a thermal heat reading of the road ahead. This can aid in the early detection of otherwise invisible pedestrians or nocturnal animals, thus avoiding potential collisions.
Just as every driver has different needs, the various trim levels offered by automobile manufacturers are there to meet those needs.
Chevrolet offers the 2021 Suburban in six different trims: LS, LT, RST, Z71, Premier, and High Country. The LS trim includes an admirable number of standard comfort and convenience features, such as LED headlights, a 10.2 inch touchscreen infotainment system that is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as keyless open with push button start and remote start options, power adjustable front seats, and tri-zone automatic climate control. The LS trim also offers an optional front bench seat, which increases the number of potential passengers to 9. No other trim offers this option.
The LT adds even more convenience, with wireless smartphone charging, a nine speaker Bose audio system, heated front seats with a driver’s seat memory function, and an automatically dimming rearview mirror. Leather seating becomes standard, as well.
The RST trim may seem familiar to some Chevy fans, as it has been a lingering sporty-style trim or package on other vehicles. It includes larger 22-inch wheels, along with darker RST branded exterior and interior elements, such as contrast stitching and a sportier fascia. The Z71 mirrors its off-road ready cousins in the Chevy lineup, with improved ground clearance, all terrain tires, front skid plate, hill descent control, and a two-speed transfer case.
The Premier model adds second row bucket seats, which increases the comfort level of the passengers, but reduces the number of total passengers to 7. The 12-way power-adjustable front seats are heated and ventilated, and a 10 speaker Bose audio system keeps the cabin entertained. Stepping up to High Country adds the standard 6.2L engine, along with the surround-view camera system, head up display, and many of the optional advanced driver assistance features. A smooth-as-butter Magnetic Ride Control system is in place, as well.
As an offering from Cadillac, it stands to reason that each trim of the 2021 Escalade will have a significant amount of luxury bred in. It’s equally worth noting that the base Escalade has an MSRP that is over $20,000 more than that of the Suburban, so this luxury does have a price. The Escalade trim levels start with Luxury, then progress to Premium Luxury, Sport, Premium Luxury Platinum, and Sport Platinum. The Sport trims and Luxury trims do echo each other’s offerings.
The Luxury starts with full leather seating, and an industry-first 38 inch curved OLED display, featuring a 16.9-inch infotainment system and a 14.2-inch instrument cluster. Keyless ignition and remote start are standards, along with heated front and rear outboard seats, tri-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, and a 19 speaker AKG Studio audio system. The Premium Luxury trim includes a panoramic sunroof and full color head up display, but mostly adds available options, such as soft close doors, a trailering package with hitch and brake controls, a rear seat entertainment system, and an available 36 speaker sound system with conversation enhancing microphones that allow the front seat to more easily communicate with the second and third rows.
The Sport trim ads mostly aesthetic upgrades, such as gloss black features, as well as Magnetic Ride Control and Trailering Integration. The Sport Platinum steps this up with a fully leather-wrapped interior, semi-aniline seats,16 way power adjustable driver and front seats, which are heated and ventilated and include both lumbar support and massage features. The 36 speaker sound system with conversation enhancement is standard on the Sport Platinum, and an integrated console refrigerator with freezer mode is available.
The Luxury Platinum trim is much like the Sport Platinum trim, only with a Galvano grille, and 22-inch wheels. Like the Sport Platinum, it includes a rear seat entertainment system with dual independent infotainment displays for each screen.