The Arlington-made Cadillac Escalade-V is fun, fast, and almost the size of a tiny 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, its 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 modern conveniences, over-the-top presence and effortless power.

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

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

The numbers tell the story.

Its supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, 10-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive will run from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, according to General Motors. And he does this with a soundtrack that should enrapture his owners. The buzz at idle, the deafening roar under acceleration, the pop and crackle of the exhaust as it decelerates – it’s a magical symphony that you would never find rational.

Of course it’s not rational, and that’s what makes it so endearing.

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

With its plate-shaped styling, massive vertical grille and squinting LED headlights, its shear intimidates other motorists, as does its thunderous roar. While some drivers sneak away, others give you a warm thumbs up, while still others try to race against you, usually unsuccessfully.

But it’s not just straightforward moxie that proves satisfying; it is everyday agility. Yes, the size is big enough to be tempted to call it Horton. But Cadillac engineers skillfully modified the underpinnings to suppress excessive body motion without compromising ride comfort, while making spirited driving somewhat possible. An adaptive air suspension helps.

It’s still a body-on-frame truck, though, 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 start filling 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 were up to that with this scum, right?

And it’s chic, for the most part. Okay, like other Escalades, it gets less as you go further back. There aren’t even hooks for shopping bags in the rear cargo hold. Are Escalade owners expected to have their groceries delivered only?

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But it’s hard to argue with the luxurious cabin, filled with accessories that make living big so easy. The ventilated and heated seats. The box in the center console that doubles as a refrigerator. The audio system from AKG 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 want it or not. But it does add a mobile hotspot and other services, although on the surface this seems like a way to support a feature that buyers otherwise don’t seem to want.

There are buyers who understand that a van pulls more, a pickup pulls more, and a sports car is faster and handles better. But neither rationality nor need comes into the equation of a $150,000 SUV. It’s all about desire, something Cadillac seems to remember.

Made at GM’s sprawling assembly plant in Arlington, 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 usability.

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

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

Larry Printz, Tribune News Service (TNS)

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