|Supercharged V8||Styling that’s a bit at modest|
|Earthquake Inducing Exhaust Note||Woeful fuel economy (but what do you expect)|
|Did I mention it’s supercharged?||No factory performance/summer tire option|
|Brembo front brakes||$150K+ price tag? I’m not sure…|
|Still class, prestige and comfort|
Review sections (click to jump):
2023 Cadillac Escalade-V Overview: America’s Most Heavy Metal Luxury SUV Has Arrived.
In a world of electric this and sustainable that, you really get the sense that the big three automakers are trying to make hay while the sun is still shining berserk with supercharged V8s. The 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V is just the latest example, as GM’s iconic luxury brand finally gets around to making its signature SUV V-shaped – with no less a 6.2-liter LT4 ‘Blackwing’ V8.
The Escalade-V makes the standard SUV look positively pedestrian thanks to that hand-built, supercharged engine that delivers 682 horsepower. That’s 262 more than GM’s standard L87 6.2-liter V8 and makes for a nearly 6,300-pound SUV that can do 0-60 (at sea level) in about 4.4 seconds.
Cadillac calls the V’s driving experience “appealing and energetic,” but there’s a more apt description than that: Freaking loud.
If you look beyond the headline performance figures – we’ll get to that in a moment – consider the fact that this relatively understated-looking Cadillac has an exhaust note that can wake the dead. It’s glorious, although there’s a hefty price to pay for the privilege: the price starts at $152,490 for the standard (non-ESV) model.
The 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V finally offers what the brand’s flagship has been missing in nearly two decades of V-Series models. But is the thunderous experience? For real worth that money?
Performance: the Escalade gets volcanic power and a deafening exhaust note
It still feels a bit strange, to be honest, to talk about these big SUVs performance first and foremost. However, that’s what the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V is all about. From the outside, passersby may have trouble recognizing the V for what it is. It mostly looks like the stock Escalade from the front and sides, until you see the V badging and Brembo brakes. Yet that is not important giveaway of the beast lurking inside.
You have to catch it from behind for that. Those quad pipes are the dead giveaway and mark the business end of the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V, in my opinion. Step on the accelerator and you’ll treat yourself and everyone else for about a mile to the untempered, unholy wail of that 6.2-litre supercharged V8. With a solid 653 lb-ft of torque, the V easily has enough growl to blow the doors of most other motorists you meet on the road. That is, if they don’t immediately jump to the side when they hear you coming.
With a lot of power (and weight) comes a need for effective suspension and brakes.
Thankfully, the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V doesn’t disappoint on either front. The team that developed this mega-SUV modified the adaptive air suspension and magnetic driving control system to handle the mammoth amount of thrust coming from the engine through the V’s 10-speed automatic transmission. Aside from getting up when you floor it – which is a lot of fun combined with the sound – this Escalade maintains its composure when you decide to go all gung-ho with your right foot.
When you need to slow everything down, the V has your back with ventilated Brembo six-piston front brakes. They’ve done their job remarkably well, though you still need to keep in mind how much mass you’re dealing with here. Push at aggressive at higher speeds, and the rear (with the stock Escalade’s Duralife rotors) can get a little squirrelly. Overall, the chassis modifications helped instill confidence in passing maneuvers and even when the road got twisty.
My only performance issue
You know what didn’t inspire confidence? The tires. The 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V arrived with 275-wide Bridgestone Alenza A/S 02 all-seasons on 22-inch alloy wheels. Look, that’s fine on the Chevrolet Suburban High Country or your stock Escalade. But on a 682 horsepower three-ton SUV? I understand that choice makes the V more versatile all year round, but it numbs its performance potential.
A little more grippy rubber wouldn’t hurt, I guess, so that’s something you might want to consider if you’re planning on pouring $151,000 or more of your dollars into the V. Even then, the Escalade’s stability control system will kick in before you go too crazy to treat the V like a sports car. After all, this is still a big truck-based SUV, and even sticky tires can only do so much to fight the laws of physics.
To stay with the whole trucking thing, the fuel consumption is of course not spectacular either. Over 500 miles we emptied the Escalade-V’s 24 gallon fuel tank twice, manages about 12 mpg. God bless you if you decide to hook up a trailer behind this supercharged beast. That’s not to say you can’t — Cadillac estimates the Escalade-V to tow up to 8,200 pounds — but fuel economy will almost certainly drop at least half.
EPA numbers suggest you can get up to 16 mpg on the highway, but I couldn’t come close to that. That’s only if you’re incredibly light in your loafers – and I guarantee you won’t be, because the divine thunder coming out the back will put you on your worst behavior pretty much all the time.
Comfort and convenience: all the attributes of your ‘typical’ Escalade
As understated as the exterior, the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V is even more normal once you’re inside. Plenty of luxury features of course, but few of them new ones pieces of the puzzle. You still get huge digital OLED screens, acres of leather upholstery, massage seats and a fantastic 36-speaker AKG audio system.
Our particular V did not come with Super Cruise fitted, but will arrive on later 2023 models. Its most notable feature is the V mode, which essentially takes the Escalade’s Sport mode to another level. Press the “V” button on the center console in front of the gear lever and you’ll have access to adjust various handling characteristics, from steering and braking feel to the exhaust note and more.
Like any new Cadillac model, you’ll need to spend an additional $1,500 for three years of OnStar and GM Connected Services. You don’t get a choice, although the only other packages out there add a few hundred dollars each to the final price.
Verdict: Is the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V Worth the Money?
On the one hand, you could say that the modest exterior of the V is an asset. The bumpers, badging, brakes and tailpipes make this a sleeper, and that makes it an even more awesome purchase. I admit, shocking people with the sheer volume of this SUV has never gotten old.
The problem is that my ears say “YES!” shouted. with the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V, it’s really hard to beat that price tag. Even if you can to get one at MSRP (good luck with that), we’re talking a nearly $41,000 premium over the four-wheel-drive Sport Platinum model. Of course you don’t get the exhaust note, but the stock 6.2-liter V8 is a proven powerplant. Moreover, if you buy with your head over your heart, you can even get it with the 3.0 liter Duramax turbo diesel and get quite a lot double the fuel consumption.
Even if you take all that out of the equation, there is… another tough, heavy metal American SUV on the block: the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat. Does it have the luxury and prestige of the Escalade? No of course not. But what it does have is even more power – 710 horsepower to be exact – and a savage supercharger whine to complement its Hemi V8 bass sound. We need a few more details on that, but it’s coming back for 2023, with a much lower asking price. Again, assuming you can actually get one for MSRP.
Ultimately, if you have the money and the desire for Cadillac’s V-Series SUV (at least it is And last but not least here), the price will probably mean little or nothing to you. On that basis, the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V is a great luxury flagship. If you want an even bigger footprint, you can even order it in long-wheelbase ESV form for $3,000 more.
As much as I love this thing, my wallet screamed for mercy whenever I got close to it. So I’ll stick with the memories.