Cadillac’s powerful 2023 Escalade-V model is a monster of a machine with a supercharged 682 horsepower engine and a rapper-and-sportster-worthy face. You’ll feel like a boss the moment you get in and hear that delicious, buttery roar from its quad exhaust, and you’ll probably spend more time hanging out in your V-Series than your apartment. It may even be worth as much as your apartment.
Is it worth the asking base price of $149,195? I might have said yes if I hadn’t test-driven 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 didn’t drive a Jeep Wagoneer.
But let’s see.
This trim comes with everything you’ll find on Cadillac’s Escalade Platinum trims, including tight Brembo brakes, all-wheel drive, launch control, in-cab active noise cancellation, night vision assist, a custom-tuned, buttery-smooth suspension and transmission, and a few other things. You can also get a center console fridge-freezer for an additional $700.
The body is, as you’d expect, sound and sturdy and worthy of the glance of passers-by who know what it is – one of the best SUVs on the market. After all, every Escalade is a boss Escalade, with its massive passenger and cargo space, elephant-as-ballerina road manners and handling, and its up-to-date technology.
You’ll also be popping something like 11 miles to the gallon with this model when you’re done with it. Nobody buys an Escalade for the mileage, but that’s extremely miserable. If you take it easy, you can squeeze up to 18 MPG. But who buys a V-Series to take it easy? Not me. Another complaint is visibility. It’s just not great in the back, even with the headrests down.
Complaints aside, 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’s so much to talk about. But here are the main aspects that distinguish this upholstery from all others.
- Unique V-series front and rear panels
- Quadruple exhaust vents
- Exclusive six-piston Brembo front brakes
- Edge Red calipers
- Unique 22 inch aluminum rims
- 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 performance drive settings, lowered suspension and active exhaust valves that control the throaty V-8 growl
- V-series badging on the driver and front passenger door, tailgate and throughout the interior including the steering wheel
- Platinum-trimmed interior in Zebra Wood decor with semi-aniline leather on all three rows, heated/ventilated and massage function1 front seats
- Escalade’s signature curved OLED with a total diagonal of 38 inches
- AKG Studio Reference audio system with 36 speakers
- Available Supercruise2 hands-free driver assistance technology, including trailering and automatic lane change capabilities (late availability).
Your handsome 16.9-inch cluster display isn’t just beautiful and big, it’s also curved, an industry first, with twice the pixel density of a 4K TV. On long night drives, this screen will keep you company and make you feel connected to the world. What I particularly liked was the ease of operation, with an intuitive menu layout and quick responses. All the goodies are there too: wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, navigation, HD radio, satellite radio, a Wi-Fi hotspot, USB ports, wireless device charging and a great AKG audio system with 19 speakers.
You can also choose 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, 14.2-inch digital instrument cluster, three-zone automatic climate control and remote start.
A lot. The tall and tall among us fit in just fine, and those in the second row get their own captain’s seat. With all the seats folded down, you could probably fit a full set of drums in there, or sports gear, or suitcases, or whatever.
Even with Chris Moltisanti behind the wheel, you should do well 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 has not tested the 2023 Escalade for crashes, but there is no reason to believe that the ’23 model is any less safe than previous years. If you’re buying an SUV to feel protected, it really doesn’t get any better than this.
Conclusion: Combustion engines are of course on the decline, but as long as there are petrol stations, there are people who want to buy petrol and make such trips, for a price. And there’s nothing wrong with that.