Cadillac’s powerful 2023 Escalade-V model is a monster of a machine with a 682 horsepower supercharged engine and a rapper-and-sportster-worthy face. You’ll feel like a boss as soon as you get in and hear that delicious, buttery roar from its quad exhaust, and you’ll probably hang out more in your V-series than your apartment. In fact, it can be worth as much as your apartment.
Is it worth the $149,195 asking price? I might have said yes if I hadn’t tested Jeep’s Grand Wagoneer in August. That’s not to say I wouldn’t prefer the V model, but the Wagoneer’s interior is more impressive.
And Tony Soprano wasn’t driving a Jeep Wagoneer.
But let’s see.
This trim comes with everything you’ll find on Cadillac’s Escalade Platinum finishes, such as tight Brembo brakes, four-wheel drive, launch control, active in-cab noise canceling, night vision assistant, a custom-tuned buttery-smooth suspension and transmission, and a few other things . You can also buy a fridge-freezer in the center console for an additional $700.
The bodywork is, as you’d expect, crisp and firm and stately from passersby who know what it is: one of the best SUVs on the market. Every Escalade is a boss Escalade, with its huge passenger and cargo space, elephant-like-ballerina road manners and handling and its up-to-date technology.
You’ll also blast some 11 miles to the gallon with this model when you’re done stepping on it. Nobody buys an Escalade for the miles, but that’s extremely miserable. If you take it slow, you can squeeze up to 18 MPG. But who buys a V-series to take it easy? Not me. Another complaint is the visibility. It’s just not great in the back, even with the headrests down.
Other than that, the V Series was my favorite for the three days I drove it, and my first trip was 40 miles from the airport to where I live, in a snow storm. I took it easy, turned up the music and enjoyed sliding home in this plush cocoon.
There is so much to talk about. But here are the main aspects that set this cladding apart from all the others.
- Unique V-series front and rear axle
- Quadruple exhaust vents
- Exclusive six-piston Brembo front brakes
- Edge Red calipers
- Unique 22-inch alloy wheels
- Standard Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 and Air Ride Adaptive Suspension, with uniquely tuned rear air springs and damper hardware, as well as V-Series specific software calibrations
- Selectable V mode with driver adjustable drive settings, lowered suspension and active exhaust valves that keep the throaty V-8 growl in check
- V-Series badges on driver and passenger doors, tailgate and throughout interior, including steering wheel
- Platinum trim interior in Zebra Wood decor with semi-aniline leather on all three rows, and heated/ventilated and massaged1 front seats
- Escalade’s signature curved OLED with a total diagonal of 38 inches
- AKG Studio Reference audio system with 36 speakers
- Available Super Cruise2 hands-free driver assistance technology, including trailering and automatic lane change (late availability).
Not only is your handsome 16.9-inch cluster display nice and big, it’s also curved, an industry first, with twice the pixel density of a 4K TV. During long drives at night, this display will keep you company and feel connected to the world. What I especially liked was the ease of use, with an intuitive menu layout and quick responses. All the goodies are here too: wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, navigation, HD radio, satellite radio, a Wi-Fi hotspot, USB ports, wireless device charging and a blazing AKG audio system with 19 speakers.
You can also opt for an AKG Studio Reference audio system with 36 speakers and a rear-seat entertainment system with two 12.6-inch touchscreens. For more money, you can also get a 7.2-inch digital control panel, a 14.2-inch digital gauge cluster, three-zone automatic climate control and remote start.
A lot. The tall and tall among us are a good fit, and those in the second row get their own captain’s seats. With all the seats folded down, you could probably fit a full set of drums in there, or sports equipment or suitcases or whatever.
Even with Chris Moltisanti driving, you should be fine in a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2023 Cadillac Escalade an overall safety rating of four out of five stars, with four stars in the frontal crash test, five stars in the side crash test and three stars in the rollover test.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn’t crash tested the 2023 Escalade, but there’s no reason to believe the ’23 model is any less safe than previous years. If you buy an SUV so you feel protected, it really doesn’t get any better than this.
Conclusion: Combustion engines are disappearing, of course, but as long as there are gas stations, there are people who want to buy gasoline at a price and drive up such attractions. And there’s nothing wrong with that.