An air ride, or lifted air suspension, will make a heavy vehicle or one with a heavy load feel like it's driving on air. Should you be considering the Cadillac Escalade and are wondering if it possesses this technology, we can help. We researched this popular SUV from multiple professional sources to have a definitive answer.
Certain trim levels of the 2021 Cadillac Escalade are equipped with air suspension. While it is not offered in the base level Luxury, air suspension is standard on the Premium Luxury Platinum and Sport Platinum trims. It is an available option for Premium Luxury and Sport trims.
Now that we know the trims levels of the 2021 Cadillac Escalade that have air suspension available, we'll look at how this system is different in this SUV. You might also be curious how to turn off the air ride in the Escalade or what might happen if this technology fails in this vehicle. For the answers to these questions and more, read ahead in this post to see what our research has uncovered.
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How is air suspension different for the Escalade?
Cadillac has been offering air suspension for several of its models since 2013 when it introduced the feature to the XTS. Referred to as Automatic Rear Control Air Springs, it was offered on premium trim levels for an optimal riding experience. This feature can be controlled manually or automatically, so the Escalade will be placed at the desired height when needed.
For the Escalade, Cadillac offered something in addition to just a smoother ride. The body of the SUV can be lowered closer to the roadway to improve the aerodynamic performance on the highway. It can be lowered further to make for easier entry and exit while parked.
If you are going to travel off-road, the air suspension in the Escalade will raise the body of the SUV. This will give the vehicle extra room for clearance, helping to protect the underside from ruts or larger rocks. Controlling the ride height is accomplished by pressing the up or down ride height button on the control panel.
You can watch how the ride height is controlled in the Cadillac Escalade in the following video:
How do I turn off the air ride on Escalade?
The air ride suspension system for the Cadillac Escalade is always on and can be set to adjust itself automatically. The adjustment spans four levels, each one a single inch apart from another.
You can turn off this automatic setting if your Escalade is set to raise or lower when in the park position. Under settings/vehicle/ride height/auto entry egress, select "off."
Of course, the system can be disengaged if you choose to disconnect the air compressor. This is not advisable unless you are experienced or under the supervision of someone who is.
Which is better: air or spring suspension?
Since air ride systems have been used for passenger vehicles, it's been the subject of debate. For those who have had an opportunity to ride in vehicles that offer each type, it's evident that air ride suspension provides a much smoother journey. But there are pros and cons to each that should be considered.
Air ride suspension
Car and Driver tells us that air suspension will lend for a much more quiet ride than the spring suspension alternative. There will be much less wear on the vehicle's suspension system, as it won't be subjected to constant jostling and bumps. Adjustable systems will let the driver select the vehicle's height based on need.
As a drawback, these systems cost quite a bit more than spring systems alone. Air ride suspension systems also require more fuel to operate the air compressor, resulting in lower fuel efficiency. These systems will leak over time and are not the cheapest to fix or replace.
This type of suspension is less expensive, easier to maintain, and is typically less costly to fix. While the ride might not be the smoothest, the fuel economy will be noticeably better, as the vehicle will weigh less and will not have a powered compressor impacting your miles per gallon.
Overall, air suspension will be a much smoother ride for you and your passengers. The adjustability and adaptability of this type of suspension is a real perk for car owners, making it a popular feature for the latest luxury vehicles.
Is air suspension good for daily driving?
Having air suspension in your vehicle is an excellent piece of technology to have on your daily commute. The suspension system is much smoother than those mounted on springs, which is noticeable whether you are driving on a highway or a county lane. As we mentioned earlier in this post, air suspension will mean that your drive will also be a lot quieter.
With the Escalade, being able to set the air suspension to accommodate passengers entering and exiting the vehicle is a huge plus for the daily drive. Whether you do this manually or by programming the SUV to lower when placed into park will present a nice convenience for anyone getting aboard.
Having your Escalade being the most aerodynamic it can be will make the ride smoother and help fuel economy. As with passenger entry/exit, the ride height of the Escalade in motion can be adjusted for this optimal aerodynamic position manually or by programming it to position itself automatically.
What happens when air suspension fails?
No system will last forever, and when your air ride suspension fails in your Escalade, you will notice it almost immediately. As an air compressor powers this, you will hear a constant hissing when there are leaks in the system. Not getting this fixed as soon as possible will result in the compressor burning out and needing to be replaced.
When the air ride system isn't working correctly, you will probably notice a difference in how the ride feels. A total failure would mean that the ride settings can no longer be accessed. This could mean that the Escalade is stuck in one position.
If you notice that your air ride system isn't working properly, it should get immediate attention. Not getting the issue fixed will lead to other vital parts of your Escalade becoming damaged. What would be a reasonably affordable problem to fix might now cost a lot more.
Is air suspension expensive to fix?
As we mentioned earlier in this post, fixing the air suspension system in the Escalade won't necessarily be cheap. The air compressor alone can cost upwards of $700. Should the entire system need to be replaced, it can cost up to three times as much.
While it's possible to replace a compressor on your own, it's best to have it done by a professional. The majority of the cost for this replacement is in the part, not the labor. The compressor costs between $600 and $700.
Why risk damaging a costly part? On average, the labor will run less than $100, making it well worth it to have it done by a mechanic.
The air suspension system for the Cadillac Escalade has been a comfortable addition to this luxury SUV. While adding more to the cost, Escalade owners appreciate the smooth ride and conveniences this technology has to offer. Even though problems are rare, a mechanic should address them as soon as possible after they are noticed. Drive safe!
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