When is enough enough? When can you have too much? How about never! Like the band Yello once sang, “You gotta say YES to another excess!” Don’t remember Yello? They were the ones who provided the song “Oh Yeah” to the soundtrack for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. But these aren’t the ’80s anymore, and it is time to see which super-luxury SUV wins the prize in the second decade of the 21st Century when we compare the 2022 Grand Wagoneer vs 2021 Cadillac Escalade.
The Grand Wagoneer is all-new, building off a name that Jeep used long ago. As for the Cadillac Escalade, this is one of the vehicles that set the standard for the luxury full-size SUV, with plenty of bling and celebrity cachet. So the Grand Wagoneer is the latest model to come along with a challenge to the Escadale’s position atop the luxury SUV pyramid. Since both have high five-figure price tags while providing you with plenty of room for your passengers and your stuff, in choosing between the two, you have to focus on what each one gives to you in performance, technology, high-end details, and all-around fun.
Performance and Ride
When you are looking at a super-luxury SUV, the first thing you should consider is performance. You want an SUV that is going to get you there fast and comfortably. This starts with the vehicle’s engine and transmission. The 2021 Escalade gives you a choice of two options: a powerful 6.2-liter V8 gas engine and a 3.0-liter Duramax Turbo-Diesel I-6. Both come paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The V8 gives you 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, while the Turbo-Diesel provides 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet. The V8 is the way to go for acceleration on the Escalade with its ability to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.9 seconds, as the Turbo-Diesel model can be rather sluggish off the light. However, the Turbo-Diesel will give you better fuel economy.
The 2022 Grand Wagoneer beats both engines in horsepower while almost matching them in torque. Every Grand Wagoneer comes equipped with a 6.4-liter HEMI V8, so the engine is already larger than either of the options in the Escalade. The Grand Wagoneer engine is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission and is good for 471 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. As a result, you will find the engine on the Grand Wagoneer peppier than the one on the Escalade, giving you some serious get up and go.
The next thing to look at for performance on your SUV is the drivetrain. Both the Grand Wagoneer and the Escalade come with either rear-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive. Both models also feature an independent rear suspension to provide an overall smoother ride than a solid rear axle. However, when it comes to overall ride, you are going to find the Grand Wagoneer more comfortable than the Cadillac Escalade.
The Grand Wagoneer features a Quadra-Lift Air Suspension with Semi-Active Damping that can boost this SUV up by 2.0 inches or lower it by 1.6 inches depending on road conditions. This feature is standard on all trims of the 2022 Grand Wagoneer. In contrast, you will have to pay extra for the option of having a Magnetic Ride Control or opt for a higher trim level on the 2021 Escalade.
One surprising thing about these two models is their towing capabilities. The Escalade can tow up to 8,300 pounds, while the Grand Wagoneer easily eclipses this with a maximum towing capacity of 10,000 pounds. Whether it is a boat, horse trailer, or anything else, the Grand Wagoneer gives you the ability to tow more of it, whatever it is.
Who doesn’t love gadgets? When it comes to the 2021 Escalade and 2022 Grand Wagoneer, the two automakers pull out all the stops in giving you some incredible technology. The Escalade features the Cadillac OLED Infotainment experience with navigation on a 16.9-inch color touchscreen with all the usual features like wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The base models feature an AKG Studio sound system, with the top two trims, the Premium Luxury Platinum and Sport Platinum, upgrading this to an AKG Studio Reference sound system. These two also include a rear-seat entertainment system with 12.6-inch displays in case your passengers get bored riding around in an Escalade.
While those infotainment features are quite exceptional, the Grand Wagoneer takes things a little farther. For example, the Grand Wagoneer Series I, the base model in this SUV, has an industry-exclusive McIntosh MX950 entertainment system. It may be a matter of taste, but McIntosh is known for making some of the best home sound systems available. This is the same sound system on the Series II. The Obsidian and Series III models come with a McIntosh MX1375 Reference Entertainment System.
In addition, all models of the Grand Wagoneer come with the Uconnect 5 NAV infotainment system with 45 inches of displays across the front row. This includes a digital instrument cluster, two central touchscreens, and an exclusive 10.25-inch front passenger interactive display, standard on the Series II, Obsidian, and Series III models. Just like the Escalade, the Grand Wagoneer also offers an available rear-seat entertainment system that easily tops that of the Escalade, with two 10.1-inch screens mounted on the backs of the first row seats, plus a central 10.25-inch comfort display. There is even Amazon Fire TV for Auto streaming. This will allow your passengers to stream whatever is available on Amazon, from live sports to the best movies and television series.
Let’s face it, when you are buying a super-premium luxury SUV, you expect to get a fine leather interior. This is why it is kind of disappointing that the base model 2021 Escalade Luxury features leatherette seats. For the premium price tag on an Escalade, you would expect to get leather seats to go along with the Linear Tiger Wood trim. The same goes for the panoramic sunroof, which does not come on the base model. If you want real leather seats and a sunroof, you are going to have to go to the next trim up on the Escalade, the Premium Luxury.
The Grand Wagoneer gives you leather seats and a panoramic tri-pane sunroof on all models. The Series I features Nappa leather seats, while the Series II, Obsidian, and Series III have Palermo leather seats. What’s more, the front seats on the base model Grand Wagoneer Series I are heated and ventilated with a massage function. In comparison, you need to spring for either the Escalade Premium Luxury Platinum or Sport Platinum if you want to get a massage while out driving in your luxury SUV.
It often comes down to little details like these that set the Grand Wagoneer apart from the Escalade. For example, the Series III trim on the Grand Wagoneer has a front console cooler bin, something that you will have to pay extra for on an Escalade. The Grand Wagoneer was designed to be the most luxurious SUV on the road, and it more than achieved that aim.
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade is a fine luxury SUV, but it appears to have met its match in the 2022 Grand Wagoneer. While the Escalade offers two engine choices, neither can match the performance of the Grand Wagoneer, which also has specialized suspension equipment to give it a smoother ride than the Cadillac. The Grand Wagoneer also has more luxury features at all trim levels, so you don’t have to waste your time hunting down items that should come standard, such as real leather seats and panoramic sunroofs. In all, you are going to get more performance and luxury out of your Grand Wagoneer than you will with an Escalade, and the Grand Wagoneer has gotten all of those little details right.