Super Cruise smooth in new Escalade

The redesigned 2021 Cadillac Escalade on a cloudy, rainy afternoon. (Bud Wells photo)

The precaution built into the Cadillac Escalade’s Super Cruise “hands-off” system was reassuring to me as I tested the large, luxurious SUV.

A highlight of the Super Cruise at this stage of its development is the opportunity for hands-free lane changes on Interstate highways.

Driving on I-25 north of Denver, the push of a button engaged the system, I pulled a lever down for a left turn and self-driving took over. My intention was to move from center lane to left lane and pass a slower-moving sedan. With its cameras and radar in effect, Super Cruise gradually started to move us to the left but detected at the same moment I caught sight in the side mirror a fast-moving vehicle approaching from behind in the left lane. The Cadillac returned to the center lane; after the speedster passed us and the gap returned, the system guided us into the left lane, I speeded up, then signaled right turn and, gaining clearance, the system guided us back into the center lane ahead of the slower-moving motorist. A task well-done, very safely.

A federal safety agency has told automakers it will begin investigating safety issues that could emerge in automated systems, such as Tesla’s Autopilot, General Motors’ Super Cruise and others.

The Cadillac seemed smooth and precise in its Super Cruise lane-changing. Though I prefer the traditional “hands-on” style of driving, as an auto reviewer I take seriously my role in testing the technological advancements so plentiful these days.

The lane-change feature, at this time, is usable in Colorado only on I-25, I-70 and I-76.

The Escalade, with Super Cruise, air-ride adaptive suspension, 6.2 V-8 power and 22-inch wheels, has softly though powerfully moved capably into the full-size luxury circle of SUVs, alongside the Mercedes GLS, BMW X7, Audi and Lincoln. It has followed the others also into six-figure pricing at $113,065.

The quilted-leather seats in the Cadillac are well-bolstered and well-cushioned, somewhat softer than a full-size GSL from Mercedes, which normally opts for a more-firm ride.

To that softness add strong performance from the Cadillac’s 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 with 10-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. It handled the climbs and twists of County Road 64E from Livermore to Red Feather Lakes with ease.

At Red Feather Lakes, Jan and I got out in a nice, light summer rainfall, and walked into the Hill Top General Store and Antiques, where we enjoyed visiting with Linda Duque, who began work there this summer.

The Cadillac Escalade’s technologically inspired instrument panel. (Cadillac)

The redesigned Escalade offers three rows of comfortable seating and pleasant ride, an elegant interior and large cargo area. Approach the rear of the SUV at night with key in pocket, and the Cadillac emblem shines beneath the bumper; swing a foot at it and the liftgate will open.

Most of the miles of driving the Escalade were via highway, which resulted in an average of 19.1 miles per gallon overall. Its EPA estimate is 14/19.

When I reviewed the spirited Cadillac CTS-V at $68,445 in 2010, I wondered whether the prices could continue their  rapid rise; five years later the 2015 Escalade showed a sticker of $90,985. In the recent drive, the Cadillac and its Super Cruise burst through the $100,000 barrier.