Outside of spotting an exotic supercar, the Cadillac Escalade is the flashiest new vehicle on the road today. Its gigantic size dominated by an aggressive grille cannot be misunderstood or ignored. See one coming and chances are you can construct an accurate picture of its driver: nouveau riche, flamboyant, politically belligerent.
But what to do when another Escalade shows up in the presto community? If it’s just not enough to keep up with the Joneses, mock their bourgeois Escalade with a freshly minted Escalade-V, which earns at least $40,000 in divorce and a built-in V-8 alarm clock.
- 682 hp supercharged power
- Air Ride adaptive suspension
- AKG Studio Reference audio system with 36 speakers
- Fashion model: Escalade-V
- Engine:: 6.2L V-8 Supercharged
- Assets: 682 HP @ 6000
- Couple: 653 lb-ft @ 4400
- Range: 312
- Transfer: 10-speed automatic
- Drivetrain: 4-wheel drive
- suggested retail price: $151,090
- MSRP (as tested): $153,815
- Elite level exclusivity
- V8 grumble befitting a muscle car
- The luxury limousine among SUVs
- Exorbitant price premium
- A giant V-series
- Deplorable fuel consumption
Size and strength in spades
The Escalade-V in Radiant Red Tintcoat cornering.
Until now, Cadillac’s V-series has always been reserved for its cars. Primarily, V represents power and lots of it, but also, on newer models such as the CT4-V and CT5-V, it also personifies handling on the track. Needless to say, this new Escalade-V is not suitable for Laguna Seca. Weighing in at 6,217 pounds, there’s no V-Series-specific calibration that will make this 5.5-foot seven-seater a track hero. So instead, Cadillac has focused on delivering absurd amounts of power and an exhaust system that could wake the dead.
Bolting the brand’s largest supercharger onto the standard 6.2-liter V-8 creates the kind of thrust that even Dodge’s Durango SRT Hellcat can’t match. With 653 pound-feet of torque on tap, the Escalade-V induces an acceleration rate that seems insane for such a country yacht, so much so that it needs constant reminding that this is not a sports car. With so much fury in a luxurious package, it’s easy to forget that you’re essentially driving a very large truck, relying heavily on the exclusive six-piston Brembo front brakes for correction and a reality check.
The Escalade-V’s 6.2L supercharged V8.
That said, the Escalade-V manages its weight surprisingly well, and with the recently introduced independent rear suspension, it exhibits refined handling and handling far beyond previous models. This 5th generation is clearly the most ambitious evolution of the Escalade and the most suitable to carry the V name.
The V series treatment
The Escalade-V in Radiant Red Tintcoat.
Visually, the changes in the V-series are more subtle. There are special front and rear ends and some surprisingly discreet V-Series badging, otherwise it would take a discerning car nerd to pick one of these Escalades from afar. V-Series hardware includes Edge Red calipers, quad exhaust outlets, custom-tuned rear air springs and dampers, and unique 22-inch wheels. On the software side, a selectable V-mode activates performance drive settings to lower the body by 0.8 inches and open the exhaust valves for the rawest Escalade experience ever.
Lighting its fuse via launch control is a sight to behold as the Escalade crouches dramatically on its haunches and works its way to 62 mph in less than 4.4 seconds, accompanied by a biting exhaust note that cuts like a knife. Not only is it a decibel fiend, but let off the throttle or downshift with the paddle shifters and this thing pops out flatus like Grandpa after Thanksgiving dinner. Even on startup, the opening wail leaves no doubt as to who is leaving for work on the dead end. Good thing there’s a stealth setting for less obvious escapes.
From Tour to V There’s a mode for you
Steve Hammes pilots the Escalade-V in V mode.
Parameters such as suspension settings, steering and brake pedal feel, engine sound, four-wheel drive distribution and engine performance can all be adjusted on the curved, ultra-high-definition screen. In relaxed Tour mode, the Escalade-V is one of the quietest, most spacious SUVs ever made with ultimate comfort across the three rows.
Even in V-Mode with its senses on edge, this Escalade never crosses the line – Magnetic Ride Control takes care of that. A uniquely tuned 10-speed automatic transmission and full-time, variable-torque split four-wheel drive with a limited-slip differential round out the V’s mechanics. Bridgestone Alenza 22-inch luxury performance all-season tires hold the grip. Towing is up to 7,000 pounds.
38-inch curved OLED screens
The 38-inch OLED screen in the Escalade-V.
The Escalade has always had a great look on the outside and now finally has that same wow factor on the inside. In the foreground is a huge yet thin, organic wrap-around display that combines GM’s intuitive technology with advanced, high-profile features such as a 36-speaker AKG Studio Reference audio system driven by three amplifiers. Setting a new bar for in-car audio, it’s an absolute showstopper.
The front seats of the Escalade-V in Jet Black.
Other noteworthy goodies like an augmented reality navigation system, night vision and an amazingly detailed 360-degree camera add to the extravagance. The front seats feature massage programmes, there is a rear view camera mirror, wireless phone projection and a very smart and modern rear seat entertainment system that facilitates content sharing between the two screens and also sends navigation suggestions to the driver; the kids will love this! And how about a cooled center console that also has a freezer position? Pretty cool, indeed. Super Cruise hands-free highway driving is an option, but with late availability.
The Escalade-V during launch control.
The tailgate can be opened by pressing the Cadillac decal or by foot pedaling and has a separate button for the rear window. There are power-folding seats in the second and third rows, and remember; if you need even more space, the Escalade ESV offers an additional six meters of cargo space.
Fully loaded, but at what cost?
The Escalade-V in Radiant Red Tintcoat driving on the highway.
So here’s how much this high-performance Cadillac SUV will cost you. The only option on my tester is the Radiant Red Tintcoat — a $1,225 paint color — leading to an MSRP of $153,815. That’s over $40,000 more than the next most expensive Escalade V-8, the Sport Platinum trim. Making matters worse is the current retail environment where some dealers are making market adjustments of up to $40,000, pushing the actual transaction price to over $200,000.
Or maybe that’s just a badge of honor for some? Ditto for the 11 MPG city rating with owners pumping premium unleaded at a cost of $5,000 per year. It takes a special kind of person willing and able to spend this kind of money on a 682 horsepower SUV – an iconic symbol of American excess. But those who choose to experience GM’s flagship body-on-frame SUV like never before.