Cadillac kicked off 2022 by revealing the Escalade-V, the long-awaited high-performance version of its ever-popular luxury SUV. We were only shown the exterior upgrades at that point, but now all is revealed and as expected, it’s packing serious supercharged V8 power. It’s available in standard or stretched ESV format, and it’s supremely expensive, which we’ll get to in a bit.
All About The Power
Let’s start under the hood, where you’ll find the same 6.2-liter force-fed V8 used in the CT5-V Blackwing. It’s not a straight swap; the Escalade-V gets a larger supercharger with a four-lobe rotor design, pumping out 10 pounds of boost while giving the engine a broader powerband. The result is 682 hp – 14 more than the CT5-V Blackwing – and it peaks lower at 6,000 rpm. The tradeoff is slightly less torque than the sedan, 653 pound-feet which hits at 4,400 revs. An active exhaust system with quad tips provides audible confirmation of that power, or it can be set to quiet mode for serene luxury motoring.
Shifting is still handled by the Escalade’s 10-speed automatic transmission, calibrated to handle the extra power. It goes to all four wheels permanently with an all-wheel-drive system that splits power 50/50 in normal operation, or up to 66 percent rearward in Sport mode. There is no pure rear-wheel-drive setting, which is bad news for aggressive Escalade-V burnouts but great news for acceleration. Cadillac says the three-ton SUV will reach 60 mph in under 4.4 seconds and continue through the quarter-mile in 12.7 seconds, hitting 110 mph in the process. The top speed is 124 mph.
Not Too Hard, Not Too Soft
Engineers did not simply infuse the Escalade with power. Six-piston Brembo brakes are installed up front, and the Caddy’s standard-issue air ride suspension with Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 gains stiffer springs at the back. Damper hardware tuning and calibration is unique to the Escalade-V, and in Sport mode, it sits nearly an inch lower.
Speaking of modes, drivers can fine-tune everything from the suspension firmness and all-wheel-drive system to the steering feel, brake pressure, and engine sound through various drive modes. That includes a special V mode that turns all the performance settings to max. And yes, Escalade-V comes with launch control for plastering passengers in all three rows to the back of their seats.
At its core, however, the Escalade-V remains a luxury-focused full-size SUV. Suspension upgrades offer a bit more edge but still specialize in comfort and isolation. The interior is very much Platinum spec, devoid of red trim or race-inspired seats. The digital dash is V-specific with a bit more pizzaz, but you won’t find any lap timers in the system. Semi-aniline leather with wood trim is the order of the day, with features like augmented reality navigation included as standard equipment. V-specific wheels wear Bridgestone all-season tires. Super Cruise is optional. And the Escalade-V can tow 7,000 pounds should the need arise.
Now for the elephant in this digital room. The Escalade-V’s starting MSRP is $ 149,990, including destination charges. The price difference between that and a Platinum ESV is literally the cost of a CT5 sedan, but Cadillac Escalade Product Manager David Schiavone unabashedly owns it by proclaiming the V as “the most powerful, most exclusive, most expensive Escalade ever.” As such, it will be a low-volume vehicle, though Cadillac is not sharing any sales projections at this time.
Will Escalade buyers step into Mercedes-Maybach GLS territory for the V? Cadillac representatives point to research suggesting potential V customers are primarily the same as standard Escalade buyers, and we know the automaker can not keep up with demand for the Platinum trim level. Cadillac also says a sizable portion of Escalade buyers simply want the most expensive model, and are willing to pay for the prestige it brings. The Escalade-V should stick around for a few years, so time will tell if that research proves accurate.
The 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V reaches dealerships in late summer.