A new batch of spy photos of the 2021 Cadillac Escalade has revealed the next-generation SUV will come with paddle shifters for its transmission, marking the first time the full-size offering has included a paddle-shifted transmission.
As our sister site Cadillac Society points out, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade paddle shifters are located on the SUV’s steering wheel. Some automakers, such as Alfa Romeo, will mount paddle shifters to the steering column, leaving them fixed in one place instead of turning with the steering wheel. Cadillac has taken the more conventional route here, though, mounting them at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions on the wheel, so they will rotate with the wheel as the driver turns.
This prototype doesn’t have the magnesium paddle shifters of the CTS, ATS and CT5, instead featuring black paddles. Of course, we prefer Cadillac use magnesium paddles, but it’s worth noting that this is a pre-production prototype, so a lot can change between now and the Escalade’s debut in early 2020. GM may also be planning magnesium paddles for better-equipped versions of the SUV.
As Cadillac Society also points out, the Cadillac Escalade will feature the automaker’s Electronic Precision Shift technology, as indicated by the digital shifter stalk located on the center console. With all-new Cadillac models coming equipped with Electronic Precision Shift, the Escalade is the final model in its portfolio to adopt the shift-by-wire technology. As you may already know, the current Escalade has a mechanical shift linkage operated by an old-school column shifter.
While having paddle shifters on standard versions of the 2021 Cadillac Escalade probably won’t be very important to most buyers, the technology will be important on the incoming high-performance version. Details on this high-performance model aren’t yet clear, but rumors allege it will come with one of General Motors‘ 6.2-liter supercharged small-block V8 engines under the hood.
The fifth-generation Cadillac Escalade is expected to make its debut sometime in early 2020. In addition to the paddle-shifted transmission, it will also offer completely revamped interior and exterior styling as well as a new powertrain lineup. Eventually, a battery-electric variant will also arrive, which is expected to offer up to 400 miles of range on a single charge.
This report was written in collaboration with our sister publication, Cadillac Society.