SUV Comparison: 2021 Cadillac Escalade vs. Genesis GV80

Peter Bleakney: At first glance, this luxury SUV comparison may seem a little odd. We pit the redesigned Cadillac Escalade land yacht against the slightly more delicate Genesis GV80. What?

There is also a considerable price differential – our Escalade Sport Platinum is optionally available up to $ 126,418; while this top-of-the-line GV80 3.5T Prestige AWD has an all-inclusive price tag of $ 85,000. So let’s consider this more of a David versus Goliath story. Or Save Willy against Moby dick.

Reimagined for 2021, the Cadillac Escalade rests firmly on its perch as the ultimate expression of American excess – now nearly perfect. Cadillac is one of the oldest brands in automotive history, and the Escalade, the star of more hip-hop videos than Snoop Dogg, is its undisputed flagship. In fact, exactly 699 rap songs feature a permutation of “Escalade” in their lyrics. Should the Sclade be worried that some upstart from Korea is nibbling at its footboards? Perhaps.

Say the word “Genesis” in the halls of any high-end automaker today and they’ll choke on their bratwurst, burgers, bento box or whatever. Hyundai introduced the Genesis nameplate in 2008, but it was in 2017 that Genesis became its own entity and things got serious. Genesis now builds world-class luxury vehicles at rock-bottom prices.

Clayton seams: Alas, “GV80” has yet to be said in a single rap song, per a quick search on But I think the GV80 (and Genesis as a whole) is still on the rise in the public eye. Our test GV80 certainly caught my eye with its shimmering Cardiff Green paintwork and halved headlights and taillights. While residing in my driveway, I saw several people doing double takes as they squinted at the badge, probably wondering what Genesis was and when they could test one of them. Even my usually lonely neighbor has ventured out asking me about the GV80. “This is the best car I’ve seen you park here,” she said, noticeably less impressed with my 1999 Suburban cluttering her view.

The Cadillac was not that attractive to passers-by. You would assume that something as high as the Berlin Wall and just as imposing would command some sort of presence, and it does. Parked in my driveway, the enormous Escalade looked like a moored ocean liner; it promises luxurious trips and ostentatious details.

But like a transcontinental liner, the idea of ​​a gargantuan three-row SUV seems a bit outdated in today’s eco-conscious, plus-size world. The spec visibly at $ 126,418 impresses and the paint reflection looks about three feet thick. The imposing black grille rises like the bow of a racing yacht, and the Cadillac crest is the size of a dessert plate. But somehow it looks more “suburban” than the GV80. It takes more to win the Olympics in appeal than in gross size.

PB: I’m with you on this. And this’ Sclade is the regular wheelbase. You want even longer? They have the XL. But once hoisted into the cabin, we’re talking American quality luxury. This thing floats above the road in Rolls-Royce-style isolation, absorbing just about any surface irregularity passing below. And thanks to this Caddy’s new stiffer frame, air suspension, and multi-link independent rear setup (finally), there’s a bit of refinement and (dare I say it?) Handling balance goes hand in hand. with its comfort. Turn around a bend and this freighter takes a set and goes through.

But damn it, with that huge hood, that bluffing muzzle, and those big A-pillars, driving around town requires caution, because there’s a lot of stuff down below you can’t see. And don’t get me started in the Escalade parking lot in crowded city environments. She’s a cruiser who loves the open road, and, boy, is good at it. Sure, it’s packed with all the luxury and safety stuff you can get (for this price, it better be), but the icing on the cake for me is the truly spectacular AKG 36-speaker sound system. AKG, you ask yourself? It is an Austrian company that has been manufacturing studio quality microphones and headphones for decades. This is AKG’s first automotive app, and WOW. In addition to the litany of speakers, tweeters and the rear-mounted 265mm subwoofer, the ‘Sclade has a pair of 40mm speakers in each front headrest and a speaker -speaker in the center console.

The cabin of this tester is charcoal black throughout. I’ve seen them in lighter tones and it looks considerably classier, largely because you can see the finish – leagues before the outgoing Escalade. However, jump into the Genesis GV80 and we experience a new level of design, material choice, fit, finish and obsession with detail. The interior of the GV80 3.5T Prestige AWD is a modern master class (okay, Bentley and Rolls-Royce could probably sit on this one) from its retro-modern two-spoke steering wheel to the finely supple leather. stitched through the pretty satin knurled metal trim that pops up in all kinds of delicious places – like around the lips of cup holders. And the two-tone leather palette here is subtle yet elegant – brown-brown and smoky green nappa.

But Clayton, how did Genesis drop the ball on the quality of the ride here? It’s almost as heartbreaking as the Maple Leafs. On those stylish 22-inch wheels, the GV80 3.5 never sits on that promised comfortable cruise.

CS: A feeling of calm truly permeates the Escalade riding experience. As Peter mentioned, the suspension is smooth and the AKG audio is really on another level for sound quality. What if you leave the Genesis GV80 station then he can almost match the big Caddy for grace. At least until you get to D and hit your first pothole. The big 22-inch wheels look nice but all that unsprung weight is a toll that has to be paid in second-rate vibrations. The GV80 simply crashes over bumps in a way that doesn’t turn into a serene luxury SUV.

On the plus side, those stiff springs and big rolling stock mean the GV80 is surprisingly athletic. The 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 develops 375 horsepower and can accelerate from 80 to 120 km / h in 4.1 seconds. Throw the 2240 kg of it into a turn and it will hold a line surprisingly well. The GV80 drives like a sport SUV of a smaller class than it is. However, I would definitely trade that sporty potential for a smoother ride. But maybe I’m getting old.

Under the hood we find two very different powertrains. The Genesis uses a 3.5L twin-turbo V6, although a 2.5L turbo I4 is standard on some versions of the GV80. The V6 develops 375 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. This means that if you want to, the GV80 can really bump into each other. That’s remarkably quick for a three-row SUV. It is also perfectly smooth. A fly in the ointment is that the GV80 is recommended to run on premium gasoline, so keep that in mind when refueling at the pump.

Under the hood of the Caddy we find a completely different method of luxury propulsion. Our test vehicle wasn’t powered by the familiar 6.2L gasoline V8, but an optional 3.0L Duramax I6 turbodiesel. Cadillac wishes you didn’t remember its first foray into diesel engines in the 1980s, but it’s a far cry from it. I’ve driven this 3.0L Duramax in two previous vehicles, a GMC Sierra and a Chevrolet Silverado, and was amazed at how quieter and smoother the same engine was when tucked between the shock towers of the Escalade. It produces the exact same 270 horsepower and 460 lb-ft as it does in pickup applications, but Caddy has really done their due diligence when it comes to engine mounts and soundproofing because it feels so much more refined. It lacks the ultimate thrust of Genny’s V6, but again the Cadillac has just over 400kg more to contend with.

PB: I really like Duramax 3.0, and the fact that it’s a free option makes it a tempting proposition. This oil-fired ‘Sclade’ squeezed under 10 L / 100 km for the week, which is downright astonishing for such a big bully. Of course, those who shell out nearly $ 130,000 on a top-tier Escalade won’t give two hoots to save a few hundred dollars a year in fuel, so I suspect the take rate on this Duramax in Escalade-land will be slight. .

Clayton, I guess we better wrap up this comparison. In one way or another. Is there a winner? When it comes to absolute luxury, I nod to the Cadillac, such is its smoothness, quiet and comfortable cabin, effortless handling and that killer AKG sound. Need to tow a big boat while enjoying Boston sound bombardment? Look no further. Although personally I could never own one, as its enormity makes maneuvering downtown difficult. I could, however, live with the svelte, fast, and obsessively designed GV80 3.5T Prestige AWD. I’d just ditch the stylish 22-inch wheels for the 20-inch 2.5T Advanced that doesn’t destroy its ride.

CS: These two SUVs provide a luxurious experience. In the Cadillac, I was able to glide the freeway hands-free thanks to Super Cruise while listening to my favorite albums with a clarity I had never experienced before. The Genesis delivers a different, sportier flavor of luxury at a significantly lower cost. The Escalade is an uncompromising luxury battleship. It doesn’t compromise on size, cost, or accessories. That lack of compromise makes it a true luxury experience, but it also makes it unwieldy on all but the most spacious roads, and the price is a big pill to swallow.

Those who live in luxurious country properties won’t mind, but for the rest of us, I think the Genesis is a much better choice for everyday use all year round. She’s sporty when you call her, her interior delights us, and passers-by all gaze at her sharp lines with admiration. The ride is not resolved, but like Peter said, it’s only 20 inches away from being fixed.

The GV80 is not a perfect luxury vehicle but it is an excellent all-rounder for a very good price, and for these reasons it is the winner of this Conduct Comparison.

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