SUVs continue to gain popularity, mainly because of their practicality and sensitivity. But every now and then an SUV comes along that is actually not very sensible, but very nice. So let’s see what happens when Cadillac puts the V in Escalade.
Seeing a V badge on a Cadillac has meant different levels of high performance over the years. But no doubt Caddy went ahead 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 sports sedans ever. How did Cadillac decide to follow up on that? With their first-ever V-series SUV, the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V.
Getting to the heart of the matter, under the high hood of this ferocious beast lies a supercharged 6.2-litre V8, similar to the one in the CT5-V Blackwing; only it gets an even bigger supercharger and puts out an incredible 682 horsepower and 653 lb-ft. of couple. That’s 14 horsepower more than in the CT5, and a whopping 262 more than you could get in an Escalade before.
You will notice that this is something special at startup. It comes alive with an obnoxious roar, before turning into a soft rumble. The Escalade’s traditional 10-speed automatic has been recalibrated to properly manage the extra power, and Cadillac’s full-time active four-wheel drive ensures everything is transferred to the road surface.
On the well-groomed pavement of our Mason Dixon test track, this Escalade was everything we hoped it would be. Start launch control, and the V explodes off the line with a tsunami of torque, reaching 60 in 4.4 seconds. Gear changes in the automatic trans hit harder than a few dual-clutch units we tested. It will rev up to 6,200 rpm, but as the torque plateaus at 4,400 there’s no real reason to crank it up that high; and the Escalade-V seems to know this, short-shifting at about 5,500 during the 12.7-second -mile at 111 miles per hour. The sound? Pure car fun!
Cadillac builds an Escalade-V for you in the standard or extended wheelbase ESV; our standard length tester weighs 6200 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 come standard with enhanced programming. But the actual suspension hardware has also been upgraded. Additionally, customizable performance settings are available with the push of the console-mounted V button.
Excellent steering feel, and GM seems to have rolled back the eagerness of this platform’s stability control system; all without having to pay a hefty fare fine. There are new 6-piston Brembo calipers on the front wheels and it only took us 107 feet to stop us from 60.
We think Cadillac did a great job making this V look unique with upgraded front and rear fascias, 22-inch rims, quadruple exhaust tips and of course multiple V logos on the outside and inside; without being too over the top. It’s not much of a sleeper, but it comes pretty close. Sitting at the top of the Escalade’s heap, Platinum finish signifies the starting point, with Zebra wood trim, 36-speaker AKG Studio Reference audio and leather seats 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 is an acre 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 that buyers have become accustomed to with crossovers. But of course, no unibody can carry that much cargo, with 25.5 cubic ft. space behind the 3rd row, 72.9 behind the 2nd and maximum 121; while it matches the Escalade-V’s 7,000 pounds. sleep classification.
Everything inside looks great and all the technology is definitely up to date; but the Escalade still doesn’t have that premium feel you get in many European performance tools. But in terms of the actual driving, everyday comfort and 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 commercial 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 taking one, and we could even ask to borrow the keys from time to time.