2021 Chevrolet Tahoe High Country vs. 2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum: Compare SUVs

The Cadillac Escalade has always had the finest features in the GM family of full-size SUVs, but its success was built in part on the back of the workingman’s Tahoe. 

The gap between the basic and the bougie narrowed this year when GM introduced the tony new High Country trim on the redesigned 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe. Loaded with standard comfort features ranging from a 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to magical magnetic shocks and an available air suspension, the High Country Tahoe costs about $73,000, or $20,000 more than the base Tahoe that can seat up to nine passengers. 

The Tahoe High Country leaves off where the 2021 Cadillac Escalade starts at about $77,000, and the top Platinum trim Caddy eclipses $104,000. The High Country Tahoe seems like a deal by comparison, but do the differences between the Tahoe High Country and Escalade Platinum add up to $31,000?

2021 Cadillac Escalade

2021 Cadillac Escalade

2021 Cadillac Escalade

2021 Cadillac Escalade

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

GM’s redesigned full-size SUVs increased in size, features, options, and price for 2021. The chassis, engine choices, wheelbase, and specs are mostly the same, and both top models roll on 22-inch wheels, but these fraternal twins go about their business in much different suits. The 2021 Tahoe borrows its design from the Silverado pickup truck. The slotted grille stretches into LED headlights bracketed by C-shaped daytime running lights that are held up like lollipops by vertical fog lights. It’s not as menacing as the Silverado, and it looks a bit sleeker than the big and bold proportions of the Escalade. 

The Escalade is about an inch taller and an inch longer, and the mesh grille in the shape of the Cadillac crest rides high in rear-view mirrors. Vertical fog lights and taillights lend more height to the Escalade’s shape. In back, the Cadillac crest acts as a button to open the Escalade’s tailgate in another subtle bow to luxury distinction.

The cabins mark the most notable difference. The Escalade features a curved OLED dashboard that is essentially two touchscreens bookending a digital instrument cluster. It’s 38 inches of high-tech, well-incorporated gadgetry, compared with the perfectly capable 10.2-inch touchscreen on the Tahoe High Country. The Tahoe has a gear selector panel on the dash between the steering wheel and touchscreen, whereas the Escalade has a more traditional console gear shifter. Both top trims come wrapped in leather, but the Escalade Platinum decks the seats with semi-aniline leather and has soft-touch leather, suede, and real wood trim accents. It makes the leather and plastic in the refined High Country look like Costco’s Kirkland brand by comparison. 

2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

That’s just fine too, especially given that $31,000, or 42%, price difference. 

Interior dimensions and storage spaces are similar, though the Tahoe has more practical door pockets. GM addressed the biggest problem with its biggest model by making the third row functional and fitting for at least two adults. The seats collapse, fold, move the same way, with power functions accessible from the driver seat or liftgate. The only advantage in seat comfort is the Escalade Platinum’s massaging front seats. 

The center console options provide a more telling indicator of the differences between these two. In the Escalade, the console doubles as a cooler for $700; it’s frivolous but I enjoyed my bubbly water chilled. The $350 power console on the High Country slides 10 inches back to reveal a hidden tray and lower storage level, presumably to stow devices, hand bags, or other valuables. It also lets second-row riders access another set of cupholders and USB ports. It’s unnecessary, too, but in a much more practical way. 

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

The Escalade’s curved high-definition screens are the main distinction inside. The 16.9-inch infotainment touchscreen is larger, clearer, and quicker than the 10.2-inch screen in Tahoe High Country, but there are limits to its customization. The right side of the 14.2-inch instrument cluster lets you change views between audio and navigation, but if wireless CarPlay is active on the touchscreen, the cluster view defaults to that so you can’t view native navigation and CarPlay text messages simultaneously. The 14.2-inch instrument cluster’s typography is super clear, it is easy to change between a limited number of views, and the layout is simple, so distractions are limited.. We still prefer  Audi’s virtual cockpit, but this is a smartly executed digital instrument cluster. The final part of the wall of screens is a 7.2-inch touchscreen on the left of the steering wheel to change trip meters, check towing details, or change the instrument cluster display between augmented reality, night vision ($2,000 extra), or map views, but there’s no zooming in or out, unlike Audi’s and Porsche’s map views. 

2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

2021 Cadillac Escalade Platinum

The Tahoe’s cabin is far less sophisticated and less user friendly but not that much less functional. Both offer dual sunroofs and a rear entertainment system with dual 12.6-inch screens, but the High Country’s is part of a $3,355 Tech package with adaptive cruise control that’s standard on Escalade Platinum. Factoring in the Tech package, the difference between the two models is about $28,000, which brings the Tahoe High Country in line with the Escalade Luxury base model that is not as well equipped. 

Both vehicles have standard front and rear automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, but the Escalade’s works at a broader range of speeds than the Tahoe’s. Active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and surround-view camera systems are also standard at these prices, as are rear camera mirrors with built-in washers. The Escalade can be equipped with GM’s excellent Super Cruise system that allows hands-free driving on the freeway, whereas the Tahoe cannot, for now. Both models received four-star crash-test ratings from the NHTSA due to a subpar three-star rollover rating.

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

Even though GM rolled out its turbodiesel 3.0-liter inline-6 after the initial launch, the big SUVs in top trims come with a 6.2-liter V-8 mated to an effortless 10-speed automatic transmission. The V-8 churns out 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, but the cabin is so isolated from the engine that riders only feel that engine when the driver wants them to. An available Sport mode delays the almost imperceptible shifts, and these 5,600-pound behemoths (on average) can hustle to 60 mph in about six seconds.

In standard rear-wheel drive with the 6.2-liter, the Escalade can tow up to 7,700 pounds to the Tahoe’s 8,300-pound max towing capacity. The Escalade Platinum comes standard with a four-corner air suspension with four inches of adjustment for the ultimate in comfort, but it’ll cost Tahoe High Country shoppers another $1,000. Four-wheel drive costs $3,000 more on both, and lowers the EPA combined rating from 17 mpg to 16 mpg.

The 2021 Escalade Platinum represents the best of what GM offers in its full-size SUVs, and that’s reflected in our overall TCC Rating of 7.0 out of 10. But it comes at a steep price. The 2021 Tahoe High Country does a good job of bridging the difference between the Escalade’s most luxurious features for a price that is a whole lot more reasonable, but its overall priority of function over form contributes to a TCC Rating of 6.8 out of 10. The Tahoe High Country is a way to get many of the Escalade’s goodies without paying the luxury surcharge.

Comments are closed.