Cadillac kicked off 2022 by revealing the Escalade-V, the long-awaited high-performance version of its popular luxury SUV. We were only shown exterior upgrades at the time, but now that’s all revealed and as expected, it packs some serious supercharged V8 power. It is available in standard or extended ESV format, and this very expensive, which we’ll get to in a moment.
All About Strength
Let’s start under the hood, where you’ll find the same 6.2-liter V8 used in the Blackwing CT5-V. This is not a direct exchange; The Escalade-V gets a larger supercharger with a four-lobed rotor design, pumping out 10 pounds of boost while giving the engine a wider powerband. The result is 682 hp – 14 more than the CT5-V Blackwing – and a lower peak at 6,000 rpm. The tradeoff is slightly lower torque than the sedan, its 653 pound-feet hitting 4,400 rev. An active exhaust system with quad tips provides an audible confirmation of that power, or it can be set to silent mode for a quiet luxury vehicle.
Gearshifts are still handled by the Escalade’s 10-speed automatic transmission, which is calibrated to handle the extra power. It runs to all four wheels permanently with an all-wheel-drive system that splits the power 50/50 in normal operation, or up to 66 percent backwards in Sport mode. There’s no pure rear-wheel drive setup, which is bad news for the aggressive burnout of the Escalade-V but great news for acceleration. Cadillac says the three-ton SUV will hit 60 mph in less than 4.4 seconds and continue to cover 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 didn’t just infuse the Escalade with power. Six-piston Brembo brakes are installed at the front, and the Caddy’s standard air suspension with Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 gets stiffer springs at the rear. The damper hardware tuning and calibration is unique to the Escalade-V, and in Sport mode it’s almost an inch lower.
Speaking of modes, the driver can fine-tune everything from the tightness of the suspension and all-wheel-drive system to steering feel, brake pressure and engine sound through various driving modes. It includes a special V mode that changes all performance settings to max. And yes, the Escalade-V comes with launch controls to cover passengers in all three rows to the back of their seats.
At its core, however, the Escalade-V remains a full-size SUV focused on luxury. The suspension upgrade offers a bit more edge but still specializes in comfort and isolation. The interior is very much Platinum-spec, with no red trim or race-inspired seats. V-specific digital dashboard with a bit more pizzaz, but you won’t find a lap timer in the system. Semi-aniline leather with wood trim is on order today, with features like augmented reality navigation included as standard equipment. The special V wheels wear Bridgestone tires all season long. Super Cruise is optional. And the Escalade-V can tow 7,000 pounds if needed.
Now for the elephants in this digital space. The Escalade-V’s initial MSRP is $149,990, including destination fees. The price difference between it and the Platinum ESV is literally the cost of the CT5 sedan, but Cadillac Escalade Product Manager David Schiavone unabashedly makes up for it by declaring the V the “most powerful, most exclusive, most expensive Escalade ever.” As such, it will be a low-volume vehicle, although 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 showing potential V customers are basically the same as standard Escalade buyers, and we know the automaker can’t keep up with demand for the Platinum trim level. Cadillac also says most Escalade buyers only want the most expensive model, and are willing to pay for the prestige it carries. The Escalade-V will have to last for several years, so time will tell whether the research proves to be accurate.
The Cadillac Escalade-V 2023 reaches dealers in late summer.