The 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V is a muscle car trapped in an SUV body

In a perfect world, all cars would be filled with 800 horsepower, a supercharger and tons of torque. But we don’t live in that, and that would make cars boring and standard. For a vehicle to be special, there must be some disparity. More power, or more seats, or maybe more torque off the line. This makes it unique compared to other vehicles and you stand out.

Enter the Cadillac Escalade-V. A bold feeling at a time when almost every car manufacturer, including Cadillac, seems to be moving further and further away from big engines in exchange for electrification and giant batteries. While EVs are cool, nothing beats the novelty of having tons of power for no reason, just ask any Hellcat owner. We recently fell in love with our Escalade-V, and may we say, what a crazy SUV.

The Escalade-V is incredibly powerful

Still shot of Escalade-V in red

There isn’t much disagreement about what America’s luxury performance brand is, but most enthusiasts agree that it is Cadillac’s V-brand. No doubt the brand has been diluted over the years with the failure of the CT6-V and the rise of the relatively shallow V sub-series. Either way, the Escalade-V packs a punch because it can rise above all the hodgepodge and make something of itself.

Easy enough, because the V has the holy grail of American powerplants, the 6.2 L supercharged V8. A close cousin of the same V8 used in the seventh-generation Corvette Z06 and current CT5-V Blackwing, which we’ve all grown quite amicable towards. Putting a big engine in a big SUV might sound like lipstick on a pig, an oxymoron for all that an SUV is and stands for. But the 682 galloping horses spewing out from under the hood of the Escalade may have something else to say.

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The Escalade makes some interesting upgrades to an already near-perfect powertrain. Retaining its 6.2-litre displacement, the Escalade swaps the CT5-V Blackwing’s 1.7-litre supercharger for a larger 2.7-litre roots engine. To keep the large body in standard SUV confinement, it also replaces the Blackwing’s RWD system with an all-wheel drive format, making it more capable than just a Blackwing in boxy form. Mated to a 10-speed automatic, we’d have loved to see the Escalade in a manual like the rest of its V-class brethren, but it wouldn’t take Einstein to find out there wouldn’t be many takers.

Speed ​​is the middle name of the Escalade-V

Cadillac Escalade V driving action shot back

The V can prop itself up to 62 mph in just 4.3 seconds, a 1.7 second boost over the runner-up in the Escalade Sport Platinum, which puts out a relatively tame 420bhp. The added supercharger and hand-built engine provide a significant performance boost compared to other SUVs of its size. The 653 lb-ft of torque offered by the Escalade is an integral part of the vehicle’s ethos. With engineers looking to integrate a muscle car focus into an SUV like we’ve seen only a few times before, one of the most critical parts is the jump off the line.

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Cadillac claims that 80 percent of the Escalade-V’s 653 pound-feet of torque is available from the off at 2,000 rpm. A huge figure in terms of a solid start from a standstill, making it one of the fastest vehicles in its class off the band. The Escalade’s rambunctious nature is a big deal in a world quickly enveloped in silence. Instead of taking the high road with an electric vehicle, Cadillac swung low, creating a raucous and loud experience. From the low growl of the supercharger to the rippling exhaust of the giant V8 held up front, the Escalade is the car to drive if you want to make a statement at your kid’s soccer game.

The Escalade-V is purely American

Cadillac Escalade V side profile

Despite Cadillac’s desperate attempt to appeal to a broader market as a direct competitor to many foreign brands, the Escalade-V is quintessentially American. Born and raised in Detroit, it actually plays in favor of the Escalade. The interior is a mess of different materials, keeping costs low for GM. Look past the interior and you’ll get the massive, gargantuan styling of the vehicle that’s patriotic, fond of bald eagles.

The steep $151,490 asking price is a premium just for the engine. The interior looks like any other Escalade, which we found to be terrible value for the price. At six figures north of $150,000, competition is fierce. Opposition includes the Mercedes-AMG GLS63, the now-retired Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, the Dodge Durango SRT and the BMW Alpina XB7. With the Jeep and Dodge falling in almost the same unique class as the Escalade-V, it’s worth noting that both are much less pricey than the Cadillac. While most people won’t take the Escalade around the Nürburgring, it’s a definite muscle flexion of an arm that has taken a number of beatings over the years.

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