The 2021 Cadillac Escalade SUV doesn’t go on sale till late this year, but here are features customers may love:
• Augmented reality navigation. Imagine a big red pin dropping from the sky onto the building you were looking for in an unfamiliar city. That’s one of the benefits the Escalade’s augmented reality navigation system promises. “Augmented reality” is the name for technology that superimposes information from the internet onto the real world.
In the Escalade, that means a camera will project a high-def image of the street ahead onto the instrument panel, in front of the driver. It will include chevrons for the road you should follow and big, video game-style arrows pointing exactly where to turn. The arrows will get bigger as you approach the turn, and spoken directions will come from the vehicle.
It works with the AKG audio system so directions come from the right or left, grow louder as the turn gets closer, and come from behind if you drive past your turn.
The system should remedy a common problem for navigation systems: directions that aren’t clear and immediate enough in congested areas.
• Automatic passing with Super Cruise hands-free driving. Cadillac’s remarkable Super Cruise system, which allows you to drive hands-free for hours on limited access roads, is about to gain the ability to pass slower vehicles.
When Super Cruise slows the Escalade behind a slower vehicle, the driver taps the turn signal, and the system checks for vehicles in the next lane and studies its database of maps to make sure it’s merging into a safe lane, not an exit ramp or shoulder.
Next, it pulls out, returning to its higher programmed speed or slightly more to ensure a smooth merge and pass. The driver can stay in the new lane or return to the original, ahead of the slower vehicle.
Super Cruise also gets new sensors that should make it easier to engage and use.
Called lane change on demand, the feature will also be available on Cadillac CT5 and CT4 sport sedans equipped with Super Cruise.
• AKG Studio Reference audio. Harman’s AKG brand scored a coup landing its Studio and Studio Reference as the base and optional audio systems for Cadillac’s flagship vehicle, a spot Bose held for decades.
AKG engineers began work on the Escalade systems three years ago. They emphasized using high-end materials and speakers ranging from 1.5 inches in the front headrests to a 10-inch woofer. Studio Reference has 36 speakers, including some mounted in the headliner for immersive sound. The Studio system has 19 speakers.
The front passenger can set a volume different from the driver’s for napping, phone calls or to silently judge their taste in music.
In addition to surround sound, the system has a “conversation enhancer” so people in the front and third rows can converse. Don’t panic, parents; you can shut off the kids’ mic but keep yours live the 10th time somebody asks, “Are we there yet?”