Sometimes modern technology turns into science fiction. If you had told auto companies in the 1960s that a fully loaded 6,290-pound SUV with rock-like aerodynamics could blast to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds, they would have laughed. They pointed to one of the most fearsome racers of the period, the stripped-down V12-powered Ferrari 250 GTO from 1962 to 1964, and incredibly noted that it took 5.6 seconds to reach that speed.
And yet it is true. The 2023 Cadillac Escalade V Series delivered those results in independent testing, thanks to its 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine, producing 682 horsepower and 653 pound-feet of torque. That Ferrari, the most valuable car on earth? It only has 296 horsepower.
The Cadillac engine is closely related to the supercharged V8 that powers the CT5-V Blackwing, but produces only 668 horsepower in that guise. The difference is the larger 2.7 liter supercharger (compared to the 1.7 liter version in the CT5-V). This hot rod SUV can reach 10.3 mph in 10.3 seconds. But don’t try for superior superiority – the V-series is, with caution, electronically limited to 200 mph.
There is little doubt that the world actually does not need high-performance SUVs like this one, but there’s plenty of evidence that people want them. All commercial vehicles from companies such as Maserati, Lamborghini, Bentley and Rolls-Royce sell well. They are basically cake-and-eat-it-too vehicles, enabling sports car acceleration with maximum luxury passenger space.
As tested, the V-Series Escalade with 10-speed automatic came in at $151,165, a lot of money for sure, but less than a Lamborghini Urus, Bentley Bentayga, or Rolls-Royce Cullinan. And the vehicle discreetly delivers on its promise. The unobtrusive badging on the flanks is one of the few signs – if you miss the brightly painted calipers – that this is a performance-oriented Escalade.
Fire up the Escalade and you’ll hear a very un-SUV-esque roar. But drive within the speed limits (or even slightly above) and because of the good soundproofing, the extra engine and exhaust noises aren’t too much of a problem. You can still hear the AKG Studio Reference infotainment system with 36 speakers.
Many drivers will just leave it at that, but there’s a discrete V-mode button that, when pressed, transforms the vehicle by enabling launch control. With the brakes on, the Cadillac revs to 1,500 rpm and then, after you lift it, it takes off, accessing almost all of that available torque. This kind of resting performance is inherent in electric vehicles, and don’t forget that Cadillac will be an all-electric brand by 2030. still available to people who want it.
Parking is approached with caution due to the Escalade’s size, but tight maneuvers are aided by an excellent reversing camera – with very sharp resolution. On the road, the V-Series handles much better than most large SUVs, thanks to adaptive suspension designed specifically for this model, limited-slip differential and magnetic drive control. Given the power, six-piston Brembo brakes is a sensible precaution.
While you can see the fuel gauge drop, long-distance highway travel is a strong point of the Escalade. You don’t need the V Series for that – Escalade trims start with the Luxury model for US$77,795. But that’s a pretty bare-bones offering; the V comes standard with just about everything owners could want.
The list starts with the very comfortable semi-aniline leather seats in all three rows (and heated in the first two). But it also includes a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, hands-free power tailgate, the high-end stereo, heated steering wheel, power folding for the third row of seats, three years of OnStar service, a 16.9-inch infotainment screen and 14.2 – inch driver cluster, head-up display, 110-volt outlet and a very wide range of safety technology.
The only option on the car was US$1,225 for a radiant red-tinted paint job. But General Motors’ Super Cruise, which allows for hands-free highway driving, is a $2,500 option that isn’t on the test car. Tested in vehicles like the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Super Cruise is one of the best autonomous offerings on the market.