What kind of Cadillac do you want? Should it be plush and luxurious and packed with segment-leading technology? Or should it be a fire-breathing, V8-powered V car with all the manners of a coke-fueled honey badger? The 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V says, “Is it too much to ask for both?”
The Escalade-V takes the same confident, unapologetic, all-American approach to luxury as the standard model, but complements it with muscle-car bravado – from the sound to the speed – that is similarly unconcerned with what German rivals are doing. This is the best, purest version of a Cadillac on sale today and I hope future models follow the trail it's blazing.
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|Quick Stats||2023 Cadillac Escalade-V|
|Engine:||Supercharged 6.2-liter V8|
|Output:||682 Horsepower / 653 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH:||4.4 Seconds|
|Efficiency:||11 City / 16 Highway / 13 Combined|
Gallery: 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V: Review
- Exterior Color: Argent Silver
- Interior Color: Dark Auburn/Black
- Wheel Size: 22 Inches
A blind man could tell the difference between a Cadillac CT5 and its fire-breathing Blackwing sibling. But even an astute car observer will struggle to pick out an Escalade-V from the standard model. It shares a grille with the Escalade Sport and the 22-inch alloys are barely different from what you'll find elsewhere in the range. Only the quad-tipped exhaust and three V badges – one on each front door and another on the tailgate – distinguish the hot Escalade.
It's a similar story in the cabin. The seats, which were already gorgeous with their “Mondrian quilting,” are identical, and the same steering wheel and shifter are on hand too. Black ash wood takes the place of the walnut, but the Escalade-V is delightfully free of garish touches like carbon fiber. It's a beautiful place, to be clear, but the V's cabin is even less distinctive than its exterior.
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- Seating Capacity: 7
- Seating Configuration: 2 / 2 / 3
- Cargo Capacity: 25.2 / 72.9 / 121.0 Cubic Feet
Forget the sporty pretenses of the V badge – the combo of standard magnetic dampers and an air suspension, along with the same wheel/tire size means the Escalade-V is every bit as comfortable and composed on the road as its standard counterparts. The steering is well isolated, even over rough surfaces. And of course, so long as you avoid provoking the supercharged engine, little unwanted noise reaches the driver's ears.
Every seat, even the third row, is comfortable over long stretches. The front thrones provide a huge range of adjustability, in addition to standard heating, ventilation, and massage functions. The second-row captain's chairs and the third row bench will suit adults with ease too.
- Center Display: 16.92-inch Touchscreen
- Instrument Cluster Display: 14.2 Inches
- Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: Yes/Yes
The Escalade-V doesn't change much from its lesser sibling on the tech front, but frankly, it doesn't really need to. The stunning OLED displays, with a combined 38.3 inches of screen real estate, are among the very best in the industry, and they run software that's quick to respond and easy to navigate.
The V comes standard with a fantastic 36-speaker AKG audio system that's arguably the finest ever fitted to four wheels. In fact, I made a point of downloading lossless audio files specifically so I could get the most from the system – if you're driving an Escalade, you should do the same. Crisp highs, deep bass, and rich mids, along with excellent surround effects, make everything from Pavarotti to Yoko Ono sound good.
Engine: Supercharged 6.2-liter V8
Output: 682 Horsepower / 653 Pound-Feet
Transmission: 10-Speed Automatic
There's no other way to describe it: The first time I nailed the accelerator in the Escalade-V, I squealed with delight. This brute has what is arguably the richest, most ferocious, most excessive soundtrack to ever come out of a production V8. It's comically loud and angry – just listen to it on a cold start – which more than makes up for the fact that the 6,200-pound curb weight proves immense even for the supercharged 6.2-liter engine. In the rarefied air of uber-powerful three-rowers, the Escalade-V's mid-4.0-second run to 60 is almost leisurely.
|2023 Cadillac Escalade-V||Supercharged 6.2-liter V8||682 Horsepower / 653 Pound-Feet||4.4 Seconds (est)|
|2022 BMW Alpina XB7||Twin-Turbocharged 4.4-liter V8||631 Horsepower / 590 Pound-Feet||3.9 Seconds|
|2022 Mercedes-AMG GLS63||Twin-Turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 w/ISG||603 Horsepower / 627 Pound-Feet||4.1 Seconds|
Braking performance is better thanks to 16.1-inch front discs and Brembo calipers, with the left pedal providing confident stopping power and predictable feel. Cadillac seemingly ignored the suspension, for better or worse – I guessing no amount of fiddling with the magnetic dampers or air suspension could mitigate the Escalade-V's heft. Frankly, I'm good with that, because the combo of straight-line pace and furious sound is more entertaining than an oversprung body-on-frame SUV trying to be sporty in the corners.
- Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 2 (Hands-On)
- NHTSA Rating: Four Stars Overall
- IIHS Rating: Not TSP/TSP Plus
Cadillac's headlining Super Cruise driver-assist system isn't available on the Escalade-V due to the chip shortage, but it will eventually make an appearance on the option sheet, and when it does, the Caddy will earn a perfect score here. The standard adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking (front and rear), and lane-keep assist, along with more advanced items like trailer-usable blind-spot monitoring make highway cruising a cinch.
I also need to praise the lengths the V goes to manage its size. The standard rear-camera mirror is a favorite, and Cadillac's decision to offer night vision via the gorgeous OLED cluster is a bold play. The system even highlights pedestrians or cyclists for safer driving in congested areas.
- City: 11 MPG
- Highway: 16 MPG
- Combined: 13 MPG
|2023 Cadillac Escalade-V||11 MPG||16 MPG||13 MPG|
|2022 BMW Alpina XB7||15 MPG||21 MPG||17 MPG|
|2022 Mercedes-AMG GLS63||14 MPG||18 MPG||15 MPG|
- Base Price: $79,295 + $1,895 Destination
- Trim Base Price: $151,090
- As-Tested Price: $152,430
While the Escalade range starts at around $80,000, the V treatment very nearly doubles that sum, with this 682-hp brute starting at $151,090 including a $1,895 destination charge. My tester added a modest $1,290 in options, nearly half of which was for Argent Silver paint, one of the two $625 exterior shades (there are five in total, but only Black Raven is free). There was also a $700 refrigerator in the center console.
The Escalade-V's lofty price is the highest in the segment, although when talking about vehicles at this echelon, who cares about a few thousand bucks? A BMW Alpina XB7 starts at $145,995, while the Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 is available from $140,150. Both are more comprehensively dynamic, with sharper handling owing to their lower weights, smaller footprints, and trim-specific chassis tweaks (I'm looking at you GLS, with your active anti-roll bars). That said, the Escalade is so well equipped, comfortable, and luxurious, I'd have a hard time selecting one of those Germans over the Caddy.
Escalade-V Competitor Reviews:
2023 Cadillac Escalade-V