Cadillac Escalade V-Series Has a Need for Speed

The 2023 Cadillac Escalade will be the first SUV to don the high-performance V-Series badge.  Preproduction models shown.  Actual production model will vary.  Escalade-V availability will be announced spring 2022.

First, a heartfelt apology to my lovely, tolerant neighbors. Didn’t mean for you to think Armageddon, the Apocalypse, or World War III had begun. It was just the 2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series I’ve been driving.

You see, when you press the “start” button, the explosion from the exhaust does sound a little like a small nuclear bomb detonating. Or an entire grid-full of NASCAR stock cars coming to life.

Yes, it’s loud. OK, obnoxiously loud. Loud enough to send household pets and small children scurrying for cover. Loud enough to set-off pretty much every alarm in our condo building’s parking garage.

The 2023 Cadillac Escalade will be the first SUV to don the high-performance V-Series badge.  Preproduction models shown.  Actual production model will vary.  Escalade-V availability will be announced spring 2022.

It’s what happens when you shoe-horn a hand-built 682-horsepower 6.2-liter supercharged V8 under the hood of the latest XXL-sized Escalade. And hook it up to exhaust pipes—muffler just isn’t the right word here—roughly the diameter of storm drains.

Here, the “V” in V-Series stands for Velocity, or maybe Vicious, or even Velociraptor. Anyone who saw Jurassic Park will know how vocal those puppies could be. Cadillac calls it “luxury that roars.”

Alas, what we have here is essentially a $151,000 final hurrah for a fast-dying breed of gas-chugging overweight leviathans that use insane amounts of horsepower to go very fast.

The 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V in motion as it drives down a highway.

It’s a last hurrah because Cadillac is totally committed to going fully electric by 2030, by which time 6,290-pound V8-propelled honkers that average 12 miles per gallon will go the way of the Velociraptor.

But in the meantime, they sure are a whole lot of fun. How much fun? From a stoplight, this hunk of fuel-imbibing love can slingshot from standstill to 60mph in a they 4.3 seconds.

For reference, the original supercar—Lamborghini’s V12-engined Muira from 1966— rocketed from rest to 60mph in, er, 7.0 seconds. Our Escalade V would have chewed it up, spit it out, and left it in its considerable wake.

The cabin's appointments build on the Escalade's Platinum interior trim.

What it offers is an excuse for Escalade lovers to buy the ultimate, the true performance flagship, the best-of-the-best. They’ll also get plenty of bragging rights pulling up to the valet line, with no doubt a blip of the throttle to let the world know you’ve arrived.

Thankfully there’s also a whole lot of substance behind this style and sound, courtesy of the petrolhead-wizards at Caddy’s V Department, who have miraculously made this Escalade V a blast to drive.

They’ve equipped it with GM’s fourth-generation Magnetic Ride Control adaptive air suspension, which seems defies physics and lets the towering V corner like it’s running on rails.

Semi-aniline leather, and heated/ventilated and massaging front seats of the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V.

And with monster Brembo brakes at each corner, it stops with the urgency and immediacy of hurling a ship’s anchor out the back window.

Yes, they could have made the suspension as stiff as a board to achieve tighter, flatter cornering, and ruined any ride comfort in the process. But, amazingly, while the ride is firm, it’s surprisingly smooth and supple.

Which makes it a terrific long-distance road warrior, with all that massive power making short work of catapulting past slower traffic and rocketing out of Interstate on-ramps. Spot the gap in the traffic ahead, squeeze the throttle, and you’re there.

The 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V cruising down the highway in Phoenix, Arizona.

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 lovers won’t care.

What they might be disappointed by is the Escalade V’s rather tame appearance. Apart from slight, hardly noticeable changes to the front and rear fascias, plus a smattering of V-Series badging, this 682-hp bad boy looks all but identical to the 420-hp Escalade Sport Platinum, priced at a non-trivial $40,000 less .

As for choices, the new V comes with either standard wheelbase, or as a long-wheelbase ESV (add $3,000). Both have three-row seating.

Rear shot of the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V driving down the highway in Phoenix, Arizona.

Of course, no one needs an Escalade with this much power or this much noise. The inevitable all-electric Escalade V will no doubt be quicker, nonpolluting, and totally silent.

Until then, buckle-up, and enjoy this fire-breathing dinosaur. And remember to apologize profusely to the neighbors.


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