The Arlington-made Cadillac Escalade-V is fun, fast and almost the size of a small house

This isn’t a vehicle that goes quietly into the night, but would you expect that from the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V?

This is the high-performance rendition of Cadillac’s greatest beats, the inner demon written big as a full-size, full-on luxury, high-performance, body-on-frame SUV.

In another era, this would have been an Eldorado, powered by an 8.0-liter V-8. The vehicles are radically different, but the intent is the same. Full size comfort, all mod cons, over-the-top presence and effortless power.

Fuel economy? Honey, if you can afford a $150,000 supercharged V-8 truck the size of a garden shed, you can afford the fuel. Heck, it’s almost as big as those tiny houses on HGTV. Of course, since the center console in the front has a small fridge, you could almost live in it. Almost.

It’s much better to drive. You will never believe that a hippo can tango.

The numbers tell the story.

Its supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, 10-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive runs 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, according to General Motors. And it does so with a soundtrack that should excite its owners. The roar at idle, the deafening roar on acceleration, the pop and crackle of the exhaust as it slows down — it’s a magical symphony you’d never think rationally.

Of course it’s not rational, which is what makes it so endearing.

The Escalade-V expands Cadillac’s V-series, now in its fourth generation.(Cadillac)

With its flat style, massive vertical grille and squinting LED headlights, his shave intimidates other motorists, as does his thunderous roar. While some drivers sneak away, others give you a hearty thumbs up, while still others will try to race you, mostly without success.

But it’s not just a straight line that’s satisfying; it’s everyday agility. Yes, the size is big enough that you’d be tempted to call it Horton. But Cadillac engineers have expertly modified the undercarriage to suppress excessive body movement without affecting ride comfort, while allowing some spirited driving. An adaptive air suspension helps with this.

Still, it’s a body-on-frame truck, so don’t expect the kind of performance you’d get in a smaller unibody crossover. But you get more than enough to keep you laughing. This is a nice rig.

Until you fill the tank. In the city, the mileage was 10.6 mpg, and driving on the highway increased that to 14.5 mpg. Oh, and it requires premium fuel. But you knew you wanted to do that with this scum, right?

And it’s chic for the most part. OK, like other Escalades, it diminishes the further back you go. In fact, there are no hooks for shopping bags in the rear cargo hold. Is it assumed that Escalade owners only have their groceries delivered?

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But it’s hard to argue with the luxurious cabin, full of accessories that make life so easy. The ventilated and heated seats. The trash can in the center console that doubles as a refrigerator. The AKG audio system that transforms the Escalade-V into a moving concert hall. The huge panoramic sunroof. It’s all here.

You also get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as GM’s OnStar and Connected Services Premium Plan, a mandatory option that adds $1,500 to the base price whether you like it or not. But it does add a mobile hotspot and other services, although at first glance this seems like a way to support a feature that buyers don’t seem to want otherwise.

There are buyers who understand that a van will carry more, a pickup will pull more, and a sports car will be faster and handle better. But rationality or necessity doesn’t qualify for a $150,000 SUV. It’s all about desire, something Cadillac seems to remember.

Made at GM’s sprawling Arlington assembly plant, the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V is an SUV that competes in a rare segment of the market, where presence and style are just as important as practicality.

For those who cherish both and need a vehicle of this size with a solid dose of speed, the Escalade-V will prove to be a thrill.

And for these prices you don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why.

Larry Printz, Tribune News Service (TNS)

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