The Escalade-V rivals the biggest, most powerful and outrageous luxury SUVs, models like the Mercedes GLX AMG S 63 ($132,100, 603 hp, 627 lb-ft), BMW X7 Alpina ( $141,300, 612 hp, 590 lb-ft) or the Range Rover Autobiography P530 LWB – Cadillac isn’t the only one with a naming problem – ($159,600, 523 hp, 553 lb-ft).
I shouldn’t need to say it, but all three competitors are smaller than the Escalade ESV. Size, and with it interior space and plush comfort, is to Cadillac what peanut butter is to a Reese’s cup.
What makes the Escalade-V special?
The Escalade-V is the most powerful full-size SUV on the market. Its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 is similar to the engine in Cadillac’s CT5-V Blackwing sedan, tuned to produce a bit more horsepower and loaded with extra cooling gear, because powering the Escalade like a sports sedan is hard work.
The engine accelerates a regular-wheelbase Escalade to 60 mph in less than 4.4 seconds, according to GM’s preliminary figures. That puts the 6,217-pound SUV in the same neighborhood as a Mustang GT. The larger ESV is about a tenth of a second slower.
The engine is hand-built at GM’s Bowling Green, Kentucky plant. Every V8 is signed by the person who built it.
Other equipment on the Escalade-V:
Sports air suspension and magnetic shock absorbers
Six-piston Brembo brakes and red caliper
Four exhaust pipes
Active exhaust to modify sound and improve performance
A third electric fan for engine cooling
Titanium intake valves
22 inch wheels
“Mail slot” opening under the main grille for more cooling
V-Series badging on front doors and tailgate
2023 Cadillac-V Prices and Trim Levels
Escalade-V ESV: $151,195
Super Cruise is a $2,500 option
Prices exclude destination charge of $1,795 Driving impressions
I rode an Escalade in the suburbs and desert around Phoenix.
The engine produces 90% of peak torque from 2,000 rpm. Combined with a quick and precise 10-speed automatic transmission, the result is breathtaking acceleration.
Standard adaptive air suspension and magnetic shock absorbers keep the Escalade-V stable and level during fast maneuvers and soak up bumps for a comfortable ride.
The latest generation of GM’s Super Cruise hands-free highway driving assistant adds a welcome feature: the ability to pass slower vehicles and return to the Escalade’s original lane without driver intervention. The system worked perfectly for me on a stretch of mountainous national road. In addition to executing passes and keeping the vehicle centered in its lane with hands-free operation, the system has adjusted the speed to accommodate steep grades and tight turns.
The well-tuned steering and sophisticated suspension make the Escalade ESV feel like a smaller vehicle that’s at home in traffic and easy to place in the right place around corners in the countryside.
The controls are easy to use, including three curved OLED displays spanning 38 inches from the driver’s door to the middle of the SUV. Cadillac claims the screens have twice as many pixels as a 4K TV, and it’s easy to believe that looking at the street view is part of the augmented reality navigation system, which overlays arrows and other instructions on the future landscape.
Cadillac Escalade-V Interior Features
36-speaker AKG audio
Navigation with augmented reality
High resolution displays for instruments, controls and infotainment
Heated, ventilated and massaging front seats
The V’s active exhaust produces a throaty, satisfying growl when you accelerate hard, but keeps the cabin remarkably quiet in steady driving. A stealth mode muffles the exhaust so early morning starts won’t wake the neighbors.
A V-mode button on the center console activates launch control for Jack Rabbit starts and modifies:
2023 Cadillac Escalade-V at a Glance
Base price: $148,195 (all prices exclude destination charge of $1,795)
Large Luxury All-Wheel Drive SUV
On sale end of summer 2023
Model tested: Escalade-V ESV
Price as tested: $153,695
Engine: 6.2-liter supercharged V8
Power: 682 hp at 6,000 rpm; 653 lb-ft of torque at 4,400
Gearbox: 10-speed automatic
EPA Fuel Economy Rating: TBA
EPA Estimated Annual Fuel Cost: TBA
0-60 time: less than 4.5 seconds (est.) (short wheelbase less than 4.4)
Wheelbase: 134.1 inches, (SWB 120.9)
Length: 211.9 inches (SWB 226.9)
Width: 81.1 inches
Height: 76.7 inches (SWB 76.4)
Passenger volume EPA: ESV 170.4 cubic feet (SWB 168.4)
Cargo Volume: ESV – 41.5 cubic feet behind rear seat; 94.1 behind second row; 142.8 behind front seat (SWB 25.5/72.9/121.0)
Curb weight: ESV 6,407 pounds (SWB 6,217).
Payload: ESV 1,330 pounds (SWB 1,140)
Towing capacity: 7,000 pounds
Assembled in Arlington, Texas