Cars

2021 Cadillac Escalade Engine Options, Horsepower, and Swap Potential: HOT ROD Plans to Plunder Drivetrains!

GM’s newest offering has a drivetrain perfect for future swap projects!

Info is flowing on the new 2021 Cadillac Escalade and, once again, the drivetrain options turns out to be good news for those of us looking to plunder the drivetrains someday. While this fifth-generation Escalade is very different from the fourth-generation, one aspect that looks to be retained is the awesome 6.2L aluminum direct-injected V8 L86 mill! Escalades, starting back in 1999, were always considered to be junkyard gold since they fielded the best GM LS variants. While other GM trucks and SUV often got small-displacements and iron blocks the Escalades got the top-shelf aluminum blocks and bigger power offerings.

This means that when you’re scouring your local yank-a-part you’ll need to be on the lookout for these gems. And while the 2021 Escalade is brand new, they will eventually find their way into salvage yards where their drivetrains can be pillaged for hot rod projects across the country. With the future in mind, let’s take a look at the engine offerings in the 2021 Cadillac Escalade.

What Engines Come in the 2021 Cadillac Escalade?

6.2L Ecotec3 V8 L86

Carried over from the previous generation is an updated of the rock solid 6.2L Ecotec3 V8. No power numbers yet, but chances are GM found a way to add a few ponies to the previous power number of 420 hp. Combined with at least 460 lb-ft of torque, it’s certainly a direct-injected engine full of performance potential. The active fuel-management cylinder-deactivation system of the 2020 version was supplanted by the more efficient Dynamic Fuel Management version of the same tech. The 6.2L also has variable valve timing and an automatic stop/start system. The 2021 Suburbans and Tahoes (along with their GMC cousins) come standard with 5.3L V8s as the base, but the 6.2L an available option, so always be sure to check under the hood when you spy one in the local boneyard.

3.0L Duramax I6 turbodiesel LM2

New to all the SUVs is an optional 277hp, 460 lb-ft 3.0L Duramax I6 Turbodiesel! Yep, it’s been a long time since you could get a diesel in a Caddy, but later in the 2021 model year you’ll have the option, and this time it won’t suck. The LM2 will be built on a cast aluminum block, which is unusual for a diesel, but the aluminum construction results in a 25-percent weight savings over an iron block. To make it last GM added thick iron cylinder sleeves to stand up to the 15:1 compression.

It’s an inline six with a single set of overhead cams actuating 24 valves. The direct-injection fuel pump is operated by chain drive off the back of the cam. A chain on the fuel pump runs to the intake and exhaust cams while a small belt on the crank turns a variable-flow oil pump. Boost comes via a single, variable-geometry turbo. The magic happens in the intake manifold, which is variable and provides two paths to each of the six cylinders. This way the engine response can be optimized at lower rpm. Fun fact: the fuel can be provided, by way of high-pressure direct injection (capable of multiple injection events per cycle) at pressures up to 36,250 psi! We’re not sure this engine is ripe for a hot rodding project, but it sure is an interesting option that we’re confident will inspire some gearhead to “go boldly.” If you decide to try doing it, be sure to let us know!

V Escalade and Blackwing Rumors

Yep, rumors were swirling the net about a 4.2L twin-turbocharged Blackwing Escalade, but sadly those plans were shelved. Any future high-performance Escalades will most likely have a version of GM’s blown 6.2L V8. Not that we would mind having more boosted gold nuggets like this to hunt for.

Finding Cadillac Escalades in Salvage Yards and What to Look For

In production since 1999 Cadillac Escalades are strewn throughout salvage yards across the country. The early versions carried roughly the same engines as typical GM trucks and SUVs, but latter they were fitted with top shelf mills. Many of these engines are just a few parts and a cam swap away from churning out well over 500 hp, and most of them were built on lightweight aluminum blocks. Below is a spotter’s guide on what years carried what engines. Good luck in your hunt!

Cadillac Escalade Engine Spotters Guide

First Generation Escalade: 1999-2000

  • 7L L31 Vortec 5700 V8, 255 hp

Second Generation Escalade: 2002-2006

  • 2002-2003 5.3L LM7 Vortec V8, 285 hp
  • 2004-2006 5.3L LM7 Vortec V8, 295 hp
  • 2002-2003 6.0L LQ4 (Not Used In Escalade, 8th Digit in VIN = U) Vortec V8, 310 hp
  • 2004-2006 6.0L LQ9 (8th Digit = N) HO Vortec V8, 345 hp (Find this and it’s your lucky day!)

Third Generation Escalade: 2007-2014

  • 2L Vortec 6200 V8, 403 hp
  • NOTE: Hybird versions had a 6.0L engine

Fourth Generation Escalade: 2015-2020

  • 2L EcoTec3 L86 V8, 420 hp

Fifth Generation Escalade: 2021-???

  • 2L EcoTec3 L86 V8 estimated at 420 hp
  • 0L Duramax I6 turbodiesel 277 hp

Details on the 2021 Cadillac Escalade (Fifth Generation):

  • Base engine is 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 with 420+ hp
  • Optional 3.0L Duramax I6 turbodiesel with 460 ft-lb of torque
  • Standard 10-speed Hydra-Matic 10L80 transmission
  • Optional Super Cruise with Auto-Lane-Change capabilities
  • Five trim levels: Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport, Premium Luxury Platinum, and Sport Platinum
  • Eight interior trim options and four unique seating designs
  • AKG audio technology system with 36 speakers throughout the cabin
  • 38-inch curved OLED screen dashboard
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