2023 Cadillac Escalade-V and V ESV: Vicious Momentum

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Originally debuting at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1998, the full-size Escalade from Detroit has become a household staple while defining the American Dream. It is substantially sized for families and entourages looking for ultimate comfort and innovation that satisfies the soul. But now you will receive maximum performance this summer since the Cadillac team has introduced an out-of-this-world 5th generation variant ending with the letter “V” for Vicious!

Cadillac says the all-new 2023 Escalade-V and Escalade-V ESV are the most capable Escalades ever. I can get down with that after recently piloting the 3-ton American rocket in the Arizona desert. Energy stems from the potent 682-horsepower, hand-built, supercharged 6.2-liter V8. Sharing architecture with the CT5-V Blackwing’s supercharged V8, the unit is paired to a specifically-tuned 10-speed automatic transmission while full-time AWD keeps all that power to the pavement. Additionally, with 653 lb-ft of torque at your disposal, accelerating becomes breathtaking as juice is available from any speed and every gear. On the highway en route to the Roosevelt Dam Overlook from the Royal Palms Resort and Spa, the momentum and high-tech performance (0-60 mph in under 4.4 seconds) from my 6.2-liter ESV model was far more than required and moved the long SUV fluidly. Yet, I do not want to think about the cost of filling her up.

Suffice to say, the Escalade-V is a performance anomaly since it sounds like a racecar on one end but then drives smoothly like a grand tourer on the other. I enjoyed my time blasting through Arizona canyons while down and upshifting utilizing the paddle shifters. With the exhaust cracking, rumbling, and popping, 80% of torque is delivered at just 2,000 rpm! Furthermore, this powertrain can tow 7,000 pounds.

V-Mode is at your disposal to differentiate the feel and style of daily commutes. It allows owners to adjust the Escalade-V’s mannerisms using six driver-customizable performance settings, and automatically lowers the ride height. For example, you can modify the sound of the exhaust or tweak the brake pedal feel. Lastly, Launch Control takes place from this menu to thrust your Escalade like a missile.

Cadillac maintains its design DNA with every Escalade iteration and rarely strays away from the prototypical success of these SUVs. Now enter the letter “V.” Born in 2004 from the aspiration of engineering Cadillac vehicles with extensive performance, technology, and design, the V-Series Badge instills racing dynamics in each model it pairs with. The 2023 Cadillac Escalade becomes the first SUV to wear the branding with distinction. Its silhouette is familiar with modern adjustments starting with the alluring and darkened Sport mesh grille, a staple attraction in the V.

“With a power-to-weight ratio among the top in its class and advanced driving technologies to put that power to the pavement, the Escalade-V offers an engaging and energetic driving experience like no other full-size luxury SUV,” said Jaclyn McQuaid, executive chief engineer, Full-Size Trucks. “More importantly, it lives up to the vigorous requirements of the V-Series Mondrian insignia.”

Styling takes precedence with exclusive V-Series rear and front fascias (featuring grillettes and a splitter), sporty 22” aluminum rims wrapped in Bridgestone rubber, quad exhaust tips, black retractable running boards,  6-piston Brembo front brakes with Edge Red calipers, Magnetic Ride Control and Air Ride Adaptive Suspension, and Super Cruise hands-free driver-assistance. However, with this level of excitement, I want complete control of my vehicle.

The 2023 Escalade-V is not just well-appointed, but is pretty sophisticated with an array of amenities for its suitors. Once you start her up, a world of modernization is brought to the forefront. The stately utility is infused with Augmented Reality Navigation, a Street Vision Camera, optional Night Vision, a Rear Camera Mirror, LED exterior lighting, a Sky Roof, and much more. Sporty Zebra wood decor with semi-aniline massaging leather seats highlights the interior styling.

The Platinum cabin’s curved 38” OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display is ultra-impressive, giving off visible light so backlight isn’t required. The organic LED’s broad color range is phenomenal and, according to Cadillac, features twice the pixel density of a 4K television. The thin touchscreen extends from the right of the center stack to the edge of the driver’s door. Additionally, a 16.9” display houses the Premium infotainment experience with Natural Voice Recognition, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Connected Apps.

Another grand attribute is the visceral experience of the 36-speaker AKG Studio Reference audio system, which is heart-pounding with crisp clarity. AKG’s professional and Grammy award-winning speakers pair with each seat in the Escalade’s lavish cabin, including the front chair embedded speakers. In addition, the premium system features Conversation Enhancement, Surround 3D, and 360-degree listening experiences. I also love the large metal speaker grilles found throughout the enlightening cabin. My reggae selections never sounded better.

The half-day test drive in Paradise Valley, AZ was short but memorable. This means I will be looking forward to a future 7-day immersive experience behind the wheel. The 2023 Escalade-V will appease its owners while everyone else looks on with envy. And, of course, the safety features in the Cadillac Smart System will keep you at ease. It features Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking, Safety Alert Seat, Rear Park Assist, HD Rear Vision Camera, Teen Driver, and Rear Seat Reminder.

Starting at $149,990 (including the destination fee) for the 2023 Escalade-V and $152,990 for the Escalade-V ESV, the set will become available at dealers late this summer in five exterior hues and two unique interiors, Dark Auburn and Jet Black. So, are you ready for road superiority in the form of Cadillac V-Badging?

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