Class: Premium Large SUV
Color: Radiant Red Tintcoat
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||A|
|Power and Performance||A-|
|Fit and Finish||A|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide’s impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. “Big” rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, “Tall” rating based on 6’6″-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||682-horsepower, 6.2-liter|
|Engine Type||Supercharged V8|
Miles driven: 128
Observed fuel economy: 12.8 mpg
Driving mix: 70% city, 30% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 11/16/13 (mpg city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Premium gas
Snow performance: N/A
Base price: $149,195 (not including $1795 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Super Cruise ($2500), console refrigerator ($700), special paint ($1225), rear-window express-down credit ($50)
Price as tested: $155,365
The great: Impressive melding of power and refinement
The good: Same luxury accommodations and spacious cabin as “standard” Escalade
The not so good: High price, dismal fuel economy
Asking the question: Is the Cadillac Escalade-V too much of a good thing? Let me tell you a story…
On special occasions, my mother would make plum dumplings for Sunday breakfast, something my sister and I very much appreciated. I recall one Sunday on which we were treated to said dumplings, my sister, then three years of age or so, expressing—loudly—concern regarding the amount of sugar my father had sprinkled on her breakfast. My father quickly acquiesced to her demand for additional sugar, partly because we had to get to church, and partly because her whining was profoundly annoying. As dad carefully added a modest extra dose of sugar to my sibling’s plum dumplings he asked, “better?” Without a word, my sister took the spoon, dug it deep into the sugar bowl, came up with a healthy, rounded tablespoon of the white stuff, and dumped it all right in the middle of her plate. “More better,” she responded.
Here’s the deal, the plum dumplings were pretty sweet unsprinkled. Looking back with an adult eye, I’m pretty sure the additional sugar did little to enhance the dumping experience, though as a kid, there really isn’t a too-much-sugar line in the sand. And that’s sort of how I feel about the Escalade-V. It’s so good to start with, I’m not sure dumping sugar—or horsepower—on it makes it better.
It Is here that I must admit that, fuel economy and price aside, the ‘V compromises little in the way of comfort or convenience in becoming a super Escalade, save maybe for a little bit of highway ride refinement. But oh, that price…
The 2023 Escalade is a Consumer Guide Best Buy, this because it does almost everything very well. But even a base Escalade is a pricey proposition.
For 2023, the Escalade lineup begins with the Luxury trim level ($82,985 including destination) and ascends in price and content through Premium Luxury ($91,985), Sport ($94,785), Luxury Platinum ($109,285), and Sport Platinum (also $109,285). Each trim level is available in long-wheelbase ESV form, which adds $3000 to the bottom line. Also available across the lineup is 4WD, which also adds $3000 to the bottom line.
New to the big-Caddy lineup for 2023 is the Escalade-V. The brawniest of Escalades features a host of performance upgrades and unique trim elements, and starts at $152,885. The ‘V comes with standard 4WD and can be had on standard-length or ESV models.
Apart from unique exterior and cabin trim elements—which to this editor’s eyes look great—the big Escalade-V story is under the hood. Replacing the standard—and plenty robust—420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8, is a supercharged version of the powerplant, good for a rated 682 horsepower. Like the “base” engine, the supercharged mill mates exclusively to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Note that a 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine is also available for non-V Escalades. The smooth diesel is a $1600 option, and returns an EPA-estimated 22 combined MPG.
Standard on the ‘V, and available on certain other Escalade trim levels are Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control, and Air Ride Adaptive Suspension. Though shared with lesser Escalades, both systems have been tuned specifically for the ‘V’s sportier mission.
Consumer Guide recently spent a week behind the wheels of a standard-wheelbase 2023 Escalade-V in Radiant Red equipped with General Motors’ Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving system, and console refrigerator. All told, our test truck came in at a cool $155,365. That’s a lot of extra sugar.
Like every current-generation Escalade we’ve evaluated at Consumer Guide, the cabin impresses immediately. The ‘V is as roomy as any Escalade, which is to say, plenty spacious. Interior materials and build quality are apparently touch notch, and the gloss-black trim accented by a reserved measure of metallic bright work come of as smartly classy. Pretty sweet.
When the current generation of Escalades was introduced for the 2021 model year, Cadillac made a big deal of the SUV’s curved 38-inch “OLED” (organic LED) touch screen. While the screen is not the quite the technological marvel it was made out to be, it does make for a mighty functional and easy to use systems interface. The screen responds promptly to touch inputs, the colors are bright and tasteful—and do not wash out in direct light—and the primary controls are intuitive and simple to use.
An additional interior point: one of our editors noted that the cabin smells good. We’ll credit the great swaths of real leather.
On the road, the Escalade-V feels pretty much like any other Escalade, though it is much, much, faster accelerating. We have no problem with Cadillac’s 4.4-second 0-60 estimate for the ‘V. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if that number was a little conservative. More important than the raw sum of all that thrust is the truck’s smooth and progressive power delivery. In regular driving, the Escalade V is among the most-refined vehicles we’ve tested here at Consumer Guide. Hit the throttle, however, and the three-ton Cadillac springs forward with velvety immediacy. The transmission is a benchmark of silky shifting, and is always ready with a timely downshift for passing and merging.
This author found the tuned exhaust note to be obnoxious, however. And the noisy start-up throttle blip is an unnecessary nod to stop-light racers and Pep Boys performance-parts shoppers. Fortunately, the exhaust noise fades away on the highway and during steady cruising.
As for handling, our standard-wheelbase test truck boast moves unexpected of a vehicle laden with this much mass. While we hesitate to say any Escalade handles well, Caddy’s big bruiser can he hustled with enthusiasm, and is actually entertaining to pilot through traffic.
We saw 12.8 mpg during our cold-weather evaluation. This number matches the EPA combined estimate, and included some chilly-weather idle warm-up time. Yes, that’s kinda crummy mileage, but it borders on miraculous given the Escalade-V’s power and heft. Note that you will be filling your ‘Slade with premium fuel, which will make for some truly breath-taking fill-up tabs.
A few more things worth noting, and these pretty much apply to all Escalades. We love the enormous sunroof, which opens above the first two seating rows. We also appreciate the beefy, leather-wrapped steering wheel, which feels great when doing things that verge on sporty. The dark-wood cabin trim elements come off as especially classy and rich looking. And—and we have mentioned this before—the AKG audio system is amazingly good—at least when playing back the mid-century jazz this author is so fond of. Jeep’s McIntosh systems is very good, but we’re going to give the nod to Caddy here. And while we’re talking audio, Lincoln’s Revel system deserves an honorable mention.
We’re somewhat skeptical that adding the V suffix to your big Cadillac will bring you $45,000 worth of additional Escalade happiness. But it might. For the shopper who really wants something even more exclusive than the standard Escalade, the Escalade-V may be the sweet, more-better option you’ve been looking for. Just remember, all that extra sugar is expensive.
2023 Cadillac Escalade-V Gallery
Click below for enlarged images