First of all, my sincere apologies to my dear, tolerant neighbors. You were not meant to think that Armageddon, the Apocalypse, or World War III had begun. It was just the 2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series that I drove.
You see, when you press the “start” button, the explosion from the exhaust sounds a bit like a small nuclear bomb exploding. Or an entire grid of NASCAR stock cars coming to life.
yes it is loud OKAY, irritating noisy. Loud enough to send pets and small children running for cover. Loud enough to set off virtually any alarm in our apartment building’s parking garage.
It’s what happens when you shoehorn a hand-built 682-horsepower 6.2-liter supercharged V8 under the hood of the latest XXL-sized Escalade. And connect it to exhaust pipes – muffler just isn’t the right word here – about the diameter of storm drains.
Here the “V” in the V series stands for Velocity, or maybe Vicious, or even Velociraptor. Everyone who saw it Jurassic Park will know how noisy those puppies can be. Cadillac calls it “luxury that roars.”
Alas, what we have here is essentially a $151,000 last hurray for a rapidly dying breed of gas-guzzling, overweight leviathans that use insane amounts of horsepower to go really fast.
It’s one last hurray, as Cadillac is committed to going all-electric by 2030, by which time 6,290-pound V8-powered horns that average 12 miles per gallon will follow the Velociraptor’s way.
But in the meantime, they sure are a lot of fun. How much fun? From a stoplight, this piece of fuel-sucking love can lurch from a standstill to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds.
For reference, the original supercar – Lamborghini’s 1966 V12-engined Muira – shot from a standstill to 62 mph in, er, 7.0 seconds. Our Escalade V would have chewed it up, spat it out and left it in its considerable wake.
What it offers is an excuse for Escalade enthusiasts to buy the ultimate, the true flagship for performance, the best of the best. They’ll also brag a lot as they pull up to the valet line, no doubt beeping the accelerator to let the world know you’re there.
Thankfully, there’s a lot of substance behind this style and sound too, courtesy of the petrolhead wizards at Caddy’s V Department, who have miraculously made this Escalade V a blast to drive.
They outfitted it with GM’s fourth-generation Magnetic Ride Control adaptive air suspension, which seemingly defies physics and makes the towering V-turn look like it’s walking on rails.
And with monster Brembo brakes on every corner, it stops with the urgency and immediacy of throwing a ship’s anchor out the back window.
Yes, they could have made the suspension stiff as a board to achieve tighter, flatter cornering and ruin any ride comfort in the process. But, amazingly, while the ride is firm, it is surprisingly smooth and smooth.
That makes it a great long-haul rider, with all that massive power making short work of catapulting past slower traffic and blasting out of Interstate ramps. Find the gap in the traffic in front of you, hit the gas and you’re there.
No, the new V will never be as responsive or agile as a Mercedes-AMG GSL63, BMW Alpina XB7, Audi SQ7 or supercharged Range Rover. But loyal Escalade aficionados won’t care.
What they might be disappointed with is the rather tame looks of the Escalade V. Aside from minor, barely noticeable changes to the front and rear, plus a few V-series badges, this 682 horsepower bad boy looks pretty much identical to the 420 hp Escalade Sport Platinum, priced at a non-trivial $40,000 less.
As for the choices, the new V comes with a standard wheelbase or as a long-wheelbase ESV (add $3,000). Both have three-row seating.
Of course, no one needs an Escalade with that much power or that much sound. The inevitable all-electric Escalade V will undoubtedly be faster, non-polluting and completely silent.
Until then, buckle up and enjoy this fire-breathing dinosaur. And don’t forget to apologize profusely to the neighbors.