The Rarest New Cadillac You Can Buy

January 11th, 2023 at 4:02pm

2021 Cadillac Escalade offers a 3.0L inline-six turbodiesel and

No, we’re not talking about that hand-built +$300,000 Cadillac Celistiq. We’re talking about the diesel version of the 2023 Cadillac Escalade.

Talk about rare. Until Volkswagen pretty much destroyed the market viability of them, diesels were proving to be quite popular. Now, automakers don’t want to even talk about them, especially those brands that have promised the world they’re about to go all electric—like Cadillac.

So when I got the chance to test drive an Escalade with GM’s diesel in-line six, I jumped at the chance. They’re going to be as rare as toilet paper in a pandemic and will be on the endangered species list before the decade is out.

The 3-liter Duramax diesel grinds out 277 horsepower and 460 pound feet of torque. Let me translate those numbers in a simple way. You have more than enough power to get this 6,000 pound behemoth to pick up its feet and sprint down the street.

2021 Cadillac Escalade offers a 3.0L inline-six turbodiesel and

And it’s quiet. None of that clatterbox chatter that diesels were so famous for. Though I must say, when accelerating fast the engine sounded coarse and not all that pleasing. In every other circumstance it was fine, but that was the one rough spot I found.

Best of all, the diesel delivered very acceptable fuel economy for such a big and heavy SUV. The EPA rates it at 22 miles to the gallon, but with my testing driving skewed a bit more towards the highway, I was getting 24 mpg. I had to double check that number. I had never seen “24 mpg” and “Cadillac Escalade” used in the same sentence before.


One reason the engine sounds so quiet is that the cabin isolation in the Escalade is world class. Even over bumpy roads and rough pavement.

Inside, the Escalade is a tasteful combination of tech and leather. The instrument panel is dominated by a couple of long display screens that look well integrated, instead of having that stuck-on afterthought look that so many of today’s cars seem to have.

Most of the controls are easy and intuitive to use, particularly for adjusting the HUD or head up display. But strangely I found it awkward and cumbersome to quickly tune in the radio stations I wanted to listen to. I say strangely because I only have to adjust the HUD once and I’m done, while I’m often changing radio stations when I drive. I’d rather have it the other way around.

I came to really like the ambient lighting in the cabin, long strings of LED lights embedded in the door trim and instrument panel that morphed from one color to another. They set a great mood. But I found the shiny speaker grilles mounted at the base of the A-pillars to be distracting. Every now and then I found myself glancing at those grilles, thinking I had just caught something out of the corner of my eye that was approaching the vehicle.


The rear liftgate deserves mention because it has a feature rarely found on liftgates today: the rear window pops open. So, you can load things in the rear end without having to open the entire liftgate. That’s nice when the luggage space is full and you don’t want to open the liftgate in case it all falls out and you just want to drop something into the back.

One word of warning to potential buyers. This is a big vehicle. I mean big. And while it does drive smaller than it looks, it does not drive small. Good luck in parking lots and parking garages. It’s a tight fit no matter where you go.

Until the Celestiq comes out, the Escalade is Cadillac’s flagship, and it carries a price that reflects that honor. The 4WD Platinum edition with the diesel engine that I drove cost just a few shekels over $114,000. I have to admit that I’m still not used to these post-Covid prices and it seems to me that $114,000 is the old $85,000.

–John McElroy

Follow us on social media:

Instagram Twitter Facebook

Comments are closed.