Once you climb up and ensconce yourself in the driver’s seat—a 16-way adjustable power seat with a pretty decent massage function to go with heating and cooling functions—the sense of modernity continues. There are little touches, like the transmission lever that sprouts from the center console as opposed to poking out from the steering column, or wireless charging slot for your smartphone. But mainly it’s the big touches—all that acreage of OLED.
Although Cadillac’s press materials make many references to the car’s 38-inch OLED display “at twice the pixel density of a 4k TV,” it’s actually three separate panels. To your left is a 7.2-inch touchscreen: this one is where you can see your trip information, as well as select what to display on the main instrument panel. That is a 14.2-inch screen, mounted just in front of the other two. And to your right is a 16.9-inch touchscreen where you interact with the infotainment system and the car’s settings.
The first couple of modes of the main instrument panel are pretty conventional—you can display a big virtual speedometer gauge, and there’s also a moving map. Night vision is a $2,000 optional extra and works a lot like it did in the Cadillac CT6, although the Escalade uses a higher-resolution infrared camera to go with the better screens.
But the best view is the AR camera. As you’ll see in the photos, it shows you the view of a forward-looking camera and overlays your navigation directions on top. It’s most dramatic when you approach a turn, with large blue arrows pointing the way you need to go, but the system will also tell you which lane you need to be in and so on. The overlays are visible enough from your peripheral vision, and if you do glance down to look at them, you still see everything on the road in front of you. It’s a pretty good implementation of the idea, and having it in the main instrument panel instead of the heads-up display is a boon for those of us who wear polarized sunglasses when it’s sunny. Even better is the fact that AR is standard on all Escalades.
I’d love to tell you more about the hardware that runs all of the above, but Cadillac wasn’t prepared to delve into technical details, unfortunately.
One tech upgrade we weren’t able to try out is enhanced Super Cruise. When it arrives it will offer an automated lane change ability, but like the diesel engine option, Cadillac says it won’t be ready until late in Q4 2020. Early adopters will still get a complement of other advanced driver assistance systems, including front and rear pedestrian detection (probably a must, given the height of the hood) and automatic emergency braking. You’ll have to spring for the Premium Luxury, Platinum Luxury, Sport, or Platinum Sport trims to get the 360-degree parking cameras, blind zone monitors, and cross traffic assist however. Do that and you also get the active video rear view mirror and a heads-up display.
Like other GM vehicles, Cadillac has haptic alerts in the seat, so your left or right thigh will buzz as well as getting a visual alert if there’s something in one of those blind spots.
The infotainment system UI will be familiar if you’ve been in other recent Cadillacs, albeit sharper thanks to the higher-resolution screens. It all looks good, but I did experience perceptible lag when swiping from one screen to another. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both work wirelessly, although I think the AR system will mean most Escalade drivers stick to the SUV’s onboard navigation rather than farming directions out to their smartphones.