Going Where Cadillac Has Never Gone Before
Sport utility vehicles continue to gain in their popularity primarily because of their practicality and sensibility. But every once in a while, an SUV comes along that’s not really all that sensible at all, but a whole lot of fun. So, let’s see what happens when Cadillac puts the V in Escalade.
Seeing a V badge on a Cadillac has meant various levels of high performance over the years. But, no doubt Caddy went above and beyond with the CT5-V Blackwing; a Drivers’ Choice winner for us, and a car that will easily go down as one of the most incredible American sport sedans ever. How did Cadillac decide to follow that up? With their first ever V-Series SUV, the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V.
Getting right to the heart of the matter, under this ferocious beast’s tall hood lies a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, similar to the one found in the CT5-V Blackwing; only it gets an even bigger supercharger, and outputs an incredible 682-horsepower and 653 lb-ft. of torque. That’s 14 more horsepower than in the CT5, and a whopping 262 more than you could previously get in an Escalade.
You’ll get clued in that this is something special right at startup. It comes to life with an obnoxious roar, before settling down to a gentle rumble. The Escalade’s 10-speed traditional automatic is recalibrated to properly manage the additional power, and Cadillac’s full-time active all-wheel-drive system is in place to transfer all to the pavement.
On the well-prepped pavement of our Mason Dixon test track, this Escalade was everything we’d hoped it would be. Initiate launch control, and the V explodes off the line with a tsunami of torque, hitting 60 in 4.4-seconds. Gear changes in the automatic trans hit harder than a few dual-clutch units we’ve tested. It will rev to 6,200 RPM, but since torque plateaus at 4,400 there’s no real reason to run it up that high; and the Escalade-V seems to know this, short-shifting at around 5,500 throughout the 12.7-second ¼-mile at 111 miles-per-hour. The sound? Pure automotive bliss!
Cadillac will build you an Escalade-V in either the standard or extended wheelbase ESV; our standard-length tester weighs in at 6,200-lbs. And, while not quite a one-trick-pony, acceleration is clearly the star of this rig’s show. Both magnetic ride control and Air Ride Adaptive Suspension are standard with upgraded programming. But, the actual suspension hardware is upgraded too. Plus, customizable performance settings are available at the touch of the console-mounted V-button.
Excellent steering feel, and GM seems to have dialed back the eagerness of this platform’s stability control system; all without having to pay a harsh ride penalty. There are new 6-piston Brembo calipers on the front wheels, and it only took 107-feet to stop us from 60.
We think Cadillac did a great job making this V looking unique with upgraded front and rear fascias, 22-inch rims, quad exhaust tips, and of course multiple V-logos outside and in; without being too over the top. It’s not quite a sleeper, but pretty close. Sitting at the top of the Escalade’s heap means Platinum trim is the starting point, with Zebra wood trim, 36-speaker AKG Studio Reference audio, and leather seating for all 3-rows. As in all Escalades, a 38-inch curved display sits atop the dash, segmented into sections for the gauges, infotainment, and a small control panel.
There are acres of space for each of the 3-rows of passengers. However, this is still a body-on-frame truck. So, there’s not quite the user-friendliness buyers have gotten used to in crossovers. But of course, no unibody can haul as much cargo, with 25.5 cubic-ft. of space behind the 3rd row, 72.9 behind the 2nd, and a max of 121; while matching the Escalade-V’s 7,000-lbs. tow rating.
Everything inside looks great, and all of the tech is certainly up to date; but the Escalade still doesn’t have that upper-class feel that you get in many European performance utilities. Still, as for the actual driving, daily comfort, and the great V8 sounds this thing puts out, nothing from across the pond comes close.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for our standard-length V are 11-City, 16-Highway, and 13-Combined. As awesome as the Escalade-V is, it’s hard not to be a little disconnected when you see the price, $150,990 to start; $153,990 for the Suburban-sized ESV.
Would we spend that much for a GM truck-based utility vehicle, even one as amazingly monstrous as this 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V? Good question. Probably not. But, it might just be the future collectible of the year! So, we wouldn’t blame anyone for grabbing one, and might even ask to borrow the keys every once in a while.
Engine: 6.2L Supercharged V8
Torque: 653 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 4.4 seconds
1/4 Mile: 12.7 seconds at 111 mph
60-0 Braking: 107 feet (avg)
EPA: 11 City / 16 Highway / 13 Combined