Cadillac's high-performance V division has existed nearly as long as the Escalade. The beefy SUV hit the market in 1999, with the first V-branded car (the CTS-V) arriving in 2004. In the 17 years since then, the two worlds have never crossed paths but now, that could be changing.

Seen here for the first time at Motor1.com, we have two camouflaged Escalade test vehicles that our sources say are part of the V family. It's difficult to see detailed changes under the heavy covers, especially with Cadillac using some cladding behind the grille screen to resemble something we'd expect to see from Ram, but it's not enough to cover the lower fascia. We can see it dips a bit lower and looks a tad more aggressive, and then there are the quad exhaust outlets at the back. These are clearly still unfinished components for testing, but it's a sure indication we aren't dealing with normal Escalades.

Gallery: Cadillac Escalade V First Spy Photos

One test vehicle has the shorter stature of the standard Escalade, while another is stretched like the ESV. Both are riding on black multi-spoke wheels, but there doesn't appear to be any changes to the Escalade's ride height for improved handling. Not that the three-ton SUV would ever function as an effective corner carver, but we suspect the emphasis for this big V-badged people mover will be focused on two things: image and power.

Speaking of which, Cadillac has reorganized its V lineup as modest mid-level performance machines. Blackwing is now Caddy's apex predator, and there's no indication at this time that the Escalade will advance that far. However, we're hearing this version will indeed get the same supercharged 6.2-liter V8 from the CT5-V Blackwing. As a refresher, it develops 668 horsepower (498 kilowatts) though it's possible the mill could be detuned for the Escalade. Even if it isn't, such power in the sizable SUV body would offer lively performance, but not record-setting thrust by any stretch.

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When can we expect to see the Escalade-V in dealerships? That is still unknown, though with these prototypes wearing heavy camo and equipped with janky parts for testing, it will probably be a while. Our best guess right now is an arrival next year as a 2023 model.

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