Cadillac Escalade-V ESV —Punching out 682 horsepower

By Jim Prueter

(October 24, 2023) Not unlike European high performance marques including the AMG moniker from Mercedes and BMW's M division, Cadillac threw its horsepower into the competition with its own performance-focused skunkworks within the brand by creating the V-Series some two decades ago.

Over that time Cadillac has launched some incredibly potent V-Series, even setting a Nurburgring lap record with its CTS-V sedan along with the feared and revered CT5-V Blackwing. But until now, the brand hasn't offered a V-Series SUV especially on the most recognizable Cadillac name in the portfolio — the Escalade.

Available in both the standard and ESV extra-long wheelbase configurations, these absolute behemoth of vehicles hard punch out a walloping 682-horsepower with 653 lb-ft torque from a Roots-type supercharged hand-built 6.2-literV-8 delivered courtesy of a 10-speed automatic transmission through the standard all-wheel drive.

As expected, Cadillac didn't just forge a rocket of an engine into the engine bay and declare sufficient the day. Outside, the V adorns a blacked-out grille, a new front bumper with chunky quad-exit exhausts out back and an honest-to-goodness, not-just-for-show diffuser. Further, even with its V specific 22" wheels, red-finished Brembo brake calipers and modest telltale signature "V" badging on the front doors and cargo hatch, it fails to look noticeably apart from lesser Escalade models.

Inside, as expected it's cosseting luxury and eminently comfortable accoutrements as well, where exclusive semi-aniline leather hides set it apart and all is thoughtfully laid out including the curved OLED display screens for the digital-gauge cluster and infotainment system.

Pressing the ignition button immediately reveals where Cadillac spent the most time and money as the mellifluous exhaust notes rumble to life with authority thanks to the active exhaust system. If you were expecting a firm, race-track carving ride and handling you'll soon discover it gives nothing away relative to a supple driving experience. Engage the V-Mode  setting and the suspension firms up, steering tightens, the performance exhaust valves open up and dials in the transmission for a more precision response.

If there is a downside it's the all-season tires it's shod with that severely punishes those expecting canyon carving capability you get with the likes of the BMW Alpina XB7 or Mercedes-AMG GLS 63. The V literally begs for sticky summer performance tires.

In our unofficial testing, our V ESV catapulted from zero to 60 mph in just a tick over 4 seconds, impressive we decree for a vehicle this size and heft. Top speed is an unimpressive 125 mph according to Cadillac exposing a somewhat inconvenient and unremarkable truth: Even with its massive horsepower and torque, and intimidating yet delicious exhaust notes, the V ESV's primary focus here is less on performance and more on luxury.

Vital Stats

2024 Cadillac Escalade-V ESV
Base Price: $154,290
Price as Tested: $164,390
Powertrain: 6.2-liter Supercharged V8
paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive
Horsepower: 682
Seating: 7

Fab Features:
Massive size and performance
Luxurious, cosseting interior
SuperCruise hands-free driving