Cadillac has undergone a perpetual identity crisis over the past couple of decades. We've seen Cadillac play the part of be GM's non-Corvette performance brand, seen it be the home of urbane luxury cars — and, now, it's set to spearheading GM's push toward widescale EV conversion. And a whirlwind of model naming convention changes have made keeping track of the shifts even harder.
The exception to all this tumult has been the Escalade. It is, in both the colloquial and literal sense, the Cadillac of three-row, body-on-frame luxury SUVs. And, consequently, the brand doesn't mess with the formula.
The all-new Escalade debuted for this model year with fancy tech like Super Cruise hands-free driving, and it appears buyers can't get enough of it. According to Kelley Blue Book via Cox Automotive, the average transaction price for an Escalade during Q1 2021 was $102,183. Moreover, Cadillac sold 9,842 Escalades — enough to make it the best-selling car with a transaction price over $100,000.
Escalade sales rose by 75 percent year over year against the outgoing model in 2020 — notable even during the industry-wide resurgence of this year. It outsold the XT5 crossover, normally Cadillac's best-seller, by about 12 percent. So, despite being the brand's most expensive model, it was Cadillac's best-selling car.
It's not too much of a surprise that Escalade buyers are leveling up their rigs. The nominal Escalade starting price is $77,890, but even adding relatively modest upgrades like four-wheel drive, the full suite of safety technology, the air suspension, and maybe a paint color that isn't black pushes the price close to $100,000. And from there, hey, you might as well tack on a few more luxury items.
People in the Escalade market — specifically, a lot of wealthy parents — also have a lot of cash on hand they haven't spent traveling, eating out at restaurants or on childcare for much of the past year. Plus, borrowing money is cheap right now. In other words, there's never been a better time to bling the hell out of a great three-row SUV.