Taking too long? Close loading screen.
Connect with us

Tech

Driving the 2021 Cadillac Escalade was one of the most stressful experiences of my life

Published

on

When Cadillac reached out recently with an offer to test out the new 2021 Escalade for a day, I eagerly responded in the affirmative. I wanted to try out the latest version of the automaker’s partially autonomous driver assist system, Super Cruise, as well as all the other high-tech bells and whistles (augmented reality? 38 inches of OLED screen?) that Cadillac was stuffing into its flagship SUV.

Instead, I got one of the most stressful driving experiences I’ve ever had. I don’t consider myself a timid driver, but being behind the wheel of this 6,000-lb behemoth gave me high-grade, flop-sweat-inducing anxiety. I’ve never ridden on the back of an elephant before, but driving the 2021 Escalade may be as close as I’ll get.

Words cannot describe how gargantuan the new Escalade is, so numbers will have to suffice. The 2021 Escalade is nearly 18 feet long bumper to bumper, and almost six-and-a-half feet tall. This represents a growth spurt from the previous model year, including an additional four inches to the wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels), 2.6 inches to the overall length, and 2.4 inches taller in terms of overall height. Or, as Cadillac’s own marketing materials boast, “the largest and longest Escalade ever.”

Sitting in the driver’s seat, it’s easy to feel disconnected from the outside world — mostly because you can’t see a lot of it. The grille was like a sheer cliffside, obstructing my view several feet out in front of the wheels. An entire kindergarten class could be lined up in front of this vehicle and I wouldn’t see them.

This is not hyperbole. Last year, a local television station measured the front blind zones of many popular vehicles, from family sedans and minivans to large SUVs and full-size pickup trucks. The Escalade had the largest front blind spot of 10 feet, two inches, with the driver sitting in a natural, relaxed position. It took 13 children seated in a line in front of the Escalade before the driver could see the tops of their heads.

I tweeted out a picture of my three-year-old son standing next to the Escalade to illustrate how dangerous this blind spot could be. Reactions ranged from flabbergasted (“That ratio of grill height to windshield height is insane,” one tweet read. “Made to kill.”) to people sharing their own dangerous close encounters with oblivious Escalade drivers.

My initial interest in test driving the new Escalade was to try out the latest version of Super Cruise, the partially autonomous, “hands free” driver assist system. Cadillac has recently rolled out an enhanced version of Super Cruise that includes automatic lane changing, and I was eager to see how it has improved and how it measured up against Tesla’s Autopilot and other advanced driver assist systems.

But the Enhanced Super Cruise won’t be showing up in the Escalade until 2021. And my colleague Sean O’Kane has already gone over the Escalade’s 38-inch OLED display with a fine-toothed comb. So that leaves me to write about the driving experience — and that is tied inextricably to the bloated size of this vehicle.

I don’t mean to pick on Cadillac here, because this is a problem that is endemic to the entire auto industry. This trend in colossal vehicle sizes — particularly the very tall, square front end found on most large SUVs and trucks — is testing the limitations of our infrastructure. While driving the Escalade, I felt as if I could barely stay in my own lane. The massive width (6.75 feet, not including the mirrors) had me in a cold sweat while driving on narrow, two-lane suburban roads. The Escalade also could barely fit in my driveway, which wasn’t a total shock. As USA Today recently reported, SUVs and pickups are getting so large that they’re struggling to fit into some home and parking garages and public parking spaces.

There is a clear correlation between vehicle design and the recent spike in pedestrian deaths. While the people driving SUVs are slightly safer (1.6 percent decrease in SUV occupant deaths in 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), the number of pedestrians killed by those drivers has skyrocketed by 81 percent in the last decade, according to a report released last year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

That’s mostly because of the way SUVs are designed: larger bodies and higher carriages mean pedestrians are more likely to suffer deadly blows to the head and torso. Higher clearances mean victims are more likely to get trapped underneath a speeding SUV instead of pushed onto the hood or off to the side. Speed is also a factor because SUVs have more horsepower than a typical sedan. A recent investigation by USA Today and the Detroit Free Press found that the growing popularity of SUVs accounts for the alarming rise in pedestrian deaths.

To Cadillac’s credit, the Escalade is stuffed with the latest in safety technology. Multiple cameras embedded around the vehicle are used to create a digital overhead image of the Escalade when either in drive or reverse at low speeds. This view is projected onto the screen in the center console, giving the driver a more complete picture of their surroundings than what is actually available from the front seat. Haptic sensors in the driver’s seat will vibrate when there is a pedestrian crossing in front or behind the vehicle, or if there is a car behind you when you’re pulling out of a parking spot.

These are important features to have in a vehicle this large, but they’re also just workarounds. When you need a suite of high-definition cameras and other expensive sensors to safely drive to the grocery store, there might be something inherently wrong with your design. Manufacturers know that these types of vehicles are more dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists, but they keep making them because people keep buying them. Cadillac says it is responding to customer demands for more interior space and cargo room. Super-sizing its vehicles helps it sell more SUVs to more people.

“Our customers really enjoy and demand that space for their passengers and for themselves,” said Rob Hunwick, Cadillac’s exterior designer, in a recent call with reporters. “So growing the vehicle felt very appropriate to accommodate our particular customers and to hopefully gain more.”

I asked David Schiavone, Cadillac Escalade product manager, why the Escalade’s front blind spot in particular was so egregious. “For me, this is new,” he responded. “Your comment catches me a little off guard. Is it because they’re so tall in the front?” After I defined what I meant by front blind spot, Schiavone replied by ticking through a list of all the alert systems and safety cameras, including front pedestrian braking, 360-degree cameras, and night vision. Again, these are all commendable features, but they wouldn’t be necessary in a vehicle with a safer overall design.

Recently, General Motors (Cadillac’s parent company) announced it would phase out US car production, focusing on SUVs and pickups. And who could blame them? That’s where their profit margins are highest, and that’s what Americans are buying.

But GM has also said it is pushing for a future with “zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.” How does the Escalade stack up against that ethos? Big SUVs are two to three times more likely to kill someone during a crash. When it comes to climate change, SUVs are the second largest cause of the global rise in carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade. And traffic congestion is essentially a geometry problem: the wider the body of the vehicle, the greater percentage of road they occupy.

The 2021 Cadillac Escalade is likely to win accolades for its “luxury” and “swagger.” It will be praised for its “world-class interior” and commitment to providing its customers with the most cargo space in its class. But beneath all that, the Escalade is still an oversized, gas-guzzling SUV in a country with far too many of those on the road already.

Source

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tech

Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

Published

on

Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

Advertisement

You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

Advertisement


Source

Continue Reading

Tech

Apple will replace AirPods Pro for free with faulty noise cancellation, static or crackling

Published

on

Today, exactly one year after Apple first launched the AirPods Pro — and thus the same day the very first AirPods Pro owners will see their one-year warranties expire — Apple has launched a repair program that offers free repairs or replacements for another whole year if your AirPods Pro experience issues with noise cancellation or static.

Specifically, Apple will fix:

Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone

Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise

Apple says only a “small percentage of AirPods Pro” are affected by the issues, but it apparently wasn’t just an early batch — Apple says affected units were manufactured “before October 2020,” meaning every AirPods Pro ever made might be eligible. That’s quite a recall if so. Apple says it will repair faulty AirPods Pro for two years after you first buy them.

We’ve heard complaints about degraded noise cancellation before, and at least one Verge editor has replaced their AirPods Pro under warranty. It’s nice to hear that Apple isn’t just cutting buyers off as soon as that warranty expires.

Source

Continue Reading

Tech

This 55″ 4K TCL Smart TV Hangs on Your Wall for $200

Published

on

Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

TCL 55″ S434 4K Smart TV | $200 | Best Buy

Best Buy has an insane deal going for a brand new 55″ 4K TCL smart TV. It’s the S434, which is pretty baseline for TCL’s lineup, but at just $200, there’s little to complain about. TCL’s panels are plenty sharp and accurate, and with this set, you’ll get HDR10 compliance for enhanced color and brightness in supported games and video content. This model has Android TV onboard for all your app needs, and with an included voice remote, all your favorite content is just a shout away with the help of Google Assistant.

Advertisement


Source

Continue Reading

Trending