2021 Cadillac Escalade Super Cruise Review | Road trip royalty

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There’s no better road trip vehicle on the market today than a 2021 Super Cruise-equipped Cadillac Escalade. As long as you have the cash to put in the fuel, the Escalade will reward you with the industry’s most relaxing and comfortable experience.

It’s simple, really. Leaning back and not even worrying about touching the handlebars or pedals for hundreds of miles at a time is enough. Every other driver assistance system out there requires some degree of steering wheel interaction — even Tesla’s Autopilot — but Cadillac’s ingenious driver monitoring system solves the problem.

You may be wondering why I’m writing a full review devoted solely to Super Cruise. To answer your question, it’s because GM just rolled out its biggest update to the system ever. I also planned to drive from Michigan to Buffalo, NY, which would undergo a long highway test on a route that is almost completely Super Cruise compliant – remember, Super Cruise only works on highways that GM has mapped with LiDAR- technology.

2021 Cadillac Escalade Sport Platinum

Super Cruise launched in the Cadillac CT6, a model no longer in the Cadillac lineup. This updated, next-gen Super Cruise is rolling out in multiple new Cadillacs, as well as Chevys and soon GMC products. His first home, however, is in the recently redesigned Cadillac Escalade, a perfect product to showcase the system’s impressive capabilities.

So, what’s new? The big feature update is something called “Lane Change on Demand.” Just tap a turn signal lever while the system is activated and the Escalade will change lanes on its own. A small graphic will appear in the instrument panel that says the car is “watching to make sure it’s safe”. It then starts to move. Once it’s done, another image will inform you that the lane change has been completed successfully.

Driving in one lane takes about twice as long as a human driver, but being careful with automation seems like a wise move. Changing lanes in the middle of the bend works well in soft corners. The Escalade will try to change lanes in tighter radius corners, but it took over 10 seconds to complete the change a few times, which just doesn’t feel safe or inspire confidence.

I did experience a major problem with the automatic lane change system, but it had nothing to do with the system’s performance. About 100 miles into the trip, a “check right rear turn signal” warning appeared. For the next 30 miles or so, any automatic lane changes to the right were automatically canceled by this warning. It would go to the left but not to the right because of the error. After a while, the warning went away and the system worked normally. Chalk it up to just buggy electronics as the right turn signal worked flawlessly after that.

Cadillac also improved the performance of the system’s radar sensors. The Escalade uses a long-range radar in the front, short-range radars in the front and rear, plus a front camera at the top of the windshield that helps determine lane lines. GM’s new electrical architecture made it possible to integrate and take advantage of these better sensors. In addition, Cadillac collected “richer map information” to make the car’s movements smoother in all situations.

The result is an astonishingly good and reliable driving assistant. Arming the system is foolproof. You can press the Super Cruise button on the steering wheel, then move the car into the correct lane position and it will activate instantly. The light bar on the steering wheel lights up blue to indicate it is searching for the lanes and then turns green to indicate it is on. All you need to do from here is keep your eyes on the road. As before, both a camera (on the column) and infrared transmitters (in the light bar on the steering wheel) watch and ensure that your eyes do not wander elsewhere.

Look away for more than 4 or 5 seconds and the Escalade will start screaming at you. Continue your disobedience long enough, and it will shut down Super Cruise and lock you out as punishment. A simple power cycle is all it takes to bring back Super Cruise after you’ve met its requirements that way.

My trip to Buffalo saw a few different highways, but mostly I-90. Just as Senior Editor for Green John Beltz Snyder experienced in a 2022 Chevy Bolt EUV, highway junctions stumble. Even if you only have to stay in your lane on a “new” highway, the system will ask you to take control for a while before you can reactivate Super Cruise. It’s a little annoying that the car can’t navigate these events by integrating the navigation system into the car, but all it takes is a quick push of a button and you’re off again.

I spent hours on end doing nothing but staring ahead, listening to podcasts, and getting a massage from the Sport Platinum’s supportive seats. The ride delivered by GM’s incredible magnetic dampers is the plush support you want on a long ride. I was really in heaven for road trips.

With these highways mapped out, I didn’t even have to think about correcting the car drifting from its lane. However, there were a few occasions where I took back control. The car can recognize when you are in a construction zone and warns you if you notice. Unlike human drivers who can make those minor adjustments when a stray cone sits a little further out than others, Super Cruise doesn’t move within its lane. I occasionally pushed the steering wheel when I needed to. The other issue I encountered was lane placement relative to large installations. Those drivers aren’t always disciplined about lane keeping, and I had to clear the Escalade a number of times.

Being able to relax your arms and hands is the main reason for the Escalade’s superiority on the road, but there are other reasons as well. The 36-speaker AKG system is an audio paradise on wheels. Those headrest speakers may also seem a bit gimmicky, but they really add to the listening experience. If you just want peace and quiet, the Escalade is also good at shutting out the world. A whisper of wind rushing past the mirrors was the only intrusion.

I also enjoyed Cadillac’s augmented reality navigation system that puts directions over a live video feed into the instrument panel. It felt wrong to stare at the screen during a rainstorm I was driving through at night, but looking at the screen provided a significantly better view than staring through a rainy and glare-affected windshield. Super Cruise worked flawlessly in the rain, but the real test will be a blizzard when the radar and camera get covered in salt and road grime.

Fuel economy is the major drawback of long road trips in an Escalade, although my test truck with the 6.2-liter V8 got 20 mpg over the 350-mile road trip in both directions (that’s what Riswick did over 900 miles in a Navigator) . However, the Escalade’s requirement for premium fuel left my wallet feeling the pain. We maxed out a fuel pump (it literally stopped at $75, and I had to put my card in to boot up again) — but the relaxation of a Super Cruise-enhanced trip made it hurt less. It’s worth spending the extra $2,500 for the option on any Cadillac, and the latest improvements make the system even more worth it.

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