Here it is, boys and girls – the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V. Beneath that familiar profile lurks the most powerful drivetrain GM has ever stuffed in an SUV.
The centerpiece here is the engine, and the Escalade has a big one — a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that’s quite similar to the one found in the CT5-V Blackwing. But in the Escalade, that small-block gets an even bigger supercharger than the one on Caddy’s super sedan, 2.65 liters to be exact. That’s bigger than most engines on sale today.
It packs a hell of a punch, too. Thanks to that blower, the Escalade-V makes 682 horsepower and 653 lb-ft of torque from that handbuilt-in-Bowling-Green engine. The extra power will come in handy: The short-wheelbase Escalade weighs roughly 6,300 pounds, rising to just under 6,500 if you upgrade to the long-wheelbase ESV. Despite that heft, Cadillac says the V will sprint to 60 in “under 4.4 seconds” and rip a 12.75-second quarter-mile.
Cadillac touts the Escalade-V as the “most powerful full-size SUV ever.” It’s a technicality of sorts, as the 710-hp Durango SRT Hellcat and 707-hp Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk occupy smaller vehicle categories.
The ultra-Cadillac sends power to a 10-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. An engineer noted that at least “some” power will always be directed to the front wheels, though the bias is heavily rear-focused.
In order to slow this monster down, Cadillac fitted the V with 16.15-inch brake rotors with six-piston calipers up front.
As for fuel economy, expect bad news. GM engineers wouldn’t disclose numbers just yet, though one engineer did say “It’s not miles per gallon, it’s smiles per gallon.” Translation: It’s not pretty. Then again, this is a three-ton-plus SUV with a 7,000-pound towing capacity.
From the outside, the V has some subtle updates compared to a run-of-the-mill Escalade, chief among them that mesh grille up front, a hallmark of V-series vehicles. It’s got sportier lower valances on the front and back, and quad exhausts let you really hear the V8 scream. (As with every V-series Cadillac, you can switch the exhaust to quiet mode via the dashboard touchscreen.) The Escalade-V also gets unique wheels meant to help vent those massive brakes.
Inside it’s fairly standard Escalade, with a few added touches. The V gets its own unique gauge cluster with a center tachometer as well as a little V logo at 6 o’clock on the steering wheel. All Vs come with the Platinum interior, including black leather and “zebra” wood appointments. The key fob is color-matched to the brakes, shown here in Edge Red. As the top of the Escalade lineup, the V gets Caddy’s augmented-reality navigation and 38-speaker AKG audio system standard.
GM’s hyper-advanced Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving system with trailer mode and automatic lane change will also be making its way into the Escalade-V, but it’ll be an optional extra that won’t be available right off the bat for V buyers. See, the ongoing chip shortage already forced GM to nix Super Cruise and, um, one-touch window closing on the current production run of Escalades. When it is finally available for buyers, it’ll come in at an estimated $2,500.
Unlike Cadillac’s hardcore Blackwing sport sedans, the automaker views the Escalade-V as a fast everyday driver, not a track machine. In light of that, the 682-hp luxury barge will only be available with all-season tires. As Cadillac puts it, the V-series models, including this one, are what you drive to the track.
Cadillac says it’s building the Escalade-V because this is what people are asking for. It also helps that the Escalade was designed around a big pushrod V8, something that can’t be said for the smaller XT5.
The 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V starts at a healthy $149,990, with destination charge included. Cadillac wouldn’t say how much more the extended-wheelbase ESV will cost. The automaker insists this performance SUV will be a “low volume” product (not due to supply chain constraints), but the automaker wouldn’t specify how few will be made. And unlike many limited-edition performance models, Cadillac won’t be offering an advanced reservation program for interested buyers. The hot-rod SUV should start arriving at dealerships later this summer.