Meet the Escalade Makers. A group of forward-thinkers who helped bring the 2021 Cadillac Escalade to life in a deeply human way—through distinctly curated personas, astounding detail and technology that makes you the star.
Escalade requires no introduction. That’s why Exterior Design Manager Therese Pinazzo encouraged her team to stay true to its unmistakable styling—and execute every detail in its most sophisticated fashion.
Therese believes lighting builds the icon, a testament from someone who dabbles in LED performance art.
She’s inspired by architecture, like “what you see looking up at a building in New York City.” It’s why the tail lamps on Escalade stretch a staggering three feet tall and have been coined “skyscraper” lights. Though their size was initially controversial, designers agreed the lamps define Escalade—and delivered them in a stunning, tapered form.
She finds working on Escalade both a challenge and an honor—particularly the opportunity to design its first-ever Sport trim, giving an already powerful character a more sinister mood. It’s athletic, aggressive and bound to turn heads. And it’s what she sees herself in.
Escalade debuts the industry’s first-ever curved OLED display. That means Infotainment Program Manager Joanne Leddy had her work cut out for her during reveal—fielding hours of questions and demos. She laughs, recalling how many reporters “didn’t want to get out” of the vehicle and the joy in watching eyes widen the moment the OLED lights came on.
Joanne says Cadillac leadership wanted to offer Escalade customers this groundbreaking technology from the start. Everything else had to work around it. It was a bold, purposeful decision to revolutionize the driver’s experience. The world is heading toward technology at every touch. The way you interact with your vehicle should be no different.
But OLED was not achieved without challenges. For example, the team engineered a special light control film so the display could stand proudly without reflecting light onto the windshield. It had to be executed perfectly. From full-cluster Augmented Reality Navigation† to crisp and colorful album art, what Escalade places at your fingertips, you won’t find anywhere else.
Interior Design Manager Phil Kucera compares his job to running your own business. He fills the hybrid role of artist and engineer, collaborating with multiple departments to create this interior oasis. It makes him the perfect hype man. Phil’s famous for his internal rallying cry—a sarcastic “It’s only the Escalade” (with the occasional expletive for emphasis).
Of all the hats Phil wears, Creative is his favorite. “I keep art at the core. It’s my personal philosophy.” He draws every single day, and he studies modern sculpture and the shapes and forms of paintings for inspiration. It helps him think in 3D and solve for the tricky areas of an interface.
A degree in industrial design also helps Phil make “beautiful things in an industrial way.” Cut and sewn materials fit Escalade like well-tailored clothing, millimeters-thin blade lighting elevates the ambiance, and laser-etched patterns are small surprises you’ll discover down the road. Phil and his team made sure to fret the details, because…
Escalade debuts exclusive AKG® audio systems, a collection of obsessively tuned speakers and amplifiers that boast studio quality, 3D Surround Sound—plus human-focused features like Conversation Enhancement, Front Passenger Volume Control and Navigational Rendering. Marty Shade, Manager of Customer Programs at AKG, is responsible for the acoustics.
Marty has worked with car audio since the age of 15, when his older brother spent a frustrating afternoon attempting to install new equipment. Marty had it done in 30 minutes. “After that, I was hooked,” he remembers. That’s good news, considering Marty and his team conducted 42 separate vehicle tunings to perfect the sound.
AKG has been the music industry’s favorite microphone since 1947. As experts in high fidelity and industry-leading technology, it’s only fitting their first automotive venture is with Escalade. “There’s synergy between the Cadillac brand and AKG as far as the level of detail and attention that’s paid to every aspect of the user experience,” Marty emphasizes. Sounds like the perfect partnership.
Escalade takes form in detailed personas featuring six woods, two quilting patterns, four perforation patterns and a variety of colors, threads and stitch patterns. Color and Trim Manager Michelle Killen compares her approach to interior design: a well-curated room requires a sofa from here, a table from there and a rug from somewhere else. It tells a personal story.
That’s why Michelle studied social media for inspiration, finding self-made people with a taste for earned luxury. What do their homes and handbags look like? How does that premium experience translate to a vehicle? Each trim persona is vastly different, yet distinctly Cadillac. She wants you to pick a favorite.
What Michelle finds remarkable is the victory in variety. Every single interior persona she presented to leadership on day one was achieved. She recalls admiring the imagery, woods and colors on the design wall and knowing Escalade could be executed no other way. Because “Escalade is the benchmark. This sets the standard for how we see Cadillac.”
Global Product Manager David Schiavone has been working on Escalade since the first generation. He describes the vehicle’s meteoric rise as grassroots—a story of luxury unfolding via the pop culture masses. Professional athletes could fit comfortably inside; musicians and celebrities wanted to make a statement.
A father of three, David says the evolution of Escalade feels “like watching a fourth child grow up.” Under his watch, Escalade has been number one in the segment for 15 of its 21 years of life. But you don’t stay at the top by resting on laurels, and he can confidently say this next generation of Escalade competes head-on with anything in the market.
He lists a few crowning achievements: the record level of design execution, industry defining technology like available Super Cruise™ driver assistance feature† and curved OLED display, exclusive AKG† sound systems and improved third-row leg room. That’s the beauty of what David describes as the “catch all” role of product manager. He gets to be excited about everything.
Map coverage available in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.
AKG is a trademark of AKG Acoustics GmbH, registered in the United States and/or other countries.
Even while using the Super Cruise driver assistance feature, always pay attention while driving and do not use a hand-held device. Visit cadillacsupercruise.com for compatible highways and more information. Requires properly equipped vehicle, active Super Cruise subscription, working electrical system, cell reception, and GPS signal.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Cadillac vehicles’ destination freight charges.
Functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.
Read the vehicle’s owner's manual for important feature limitations and information.
Vehicle user interface is a product of Apple® and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires compatible iPhone® and data plan rates apply. Apply CarPlay is a trademark of Apple, Inc. Siri, iPhone and Apple Music are trademarks of Apple, Inc, registered in the U.S. and other countries.
Vehicle user interface is a product of Google™ and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires the Android Auto app on Google Play and an Android™ compatible smartphone running Android 5.0 or higher. Data plan rates apply. Android Auto is a trademark
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment
Read the vehicle's owner's manual for important feature limitations and information.
The system wirelessly charges one PMA- or Qi- compatible mobile device. Some phones have built-in wireless charging technology and others require a special adaptor/back cover. For a list of GM wireless charging compatible mobile devices see, https://my.cadillac.com/learnAbout/wireless-charging. If your device is not on this list, please consult your carrier.
Safety or driver-assistance features are no substitute for the driver’s responsibility to operate the vehicle in a safe manner. The driver should remain attentive to traffic, surroundings and road conditions at all times. Visibility, weather and road conditions may affect feature performance. Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for more important feature limitations and information.