2023 Cadillac Escalade V Review: A rocket-powered luxury family hauler
The Cadillac Escalade has been the luxury automakers best-selling vehicle for the last two years and shows no signs of slowing in its fifth generation, launched in 2020 for the 2021 model year. The Escalade was created to battle the large SUVs from Lincoln and other luxury competitors, though it took some convincing of the brass because in the 1990s Cadillac was only making luxury sedans. It eventually broke that rule.
For 2021 it updated the statement that the Escalade exterior makes with updated vertical lighting elements, but with a horizontal headlamp to reinforce a broad stance. The vertical taillights continue but with 3D layers and new etching. Twenty-two-inch wheels are standard on the seven- or eight-passenger SUV.
The Escalade now offers a Sport trim with new grille textures in black. Luxury and Premium Luxury models have a bright finish, while top Platinum models come with their own unique interior and exterior details.
The biggest news for the new generation was the addition of the Escalade’s industry-first curved OLED display with 38 inches of display area, and with twice the pixel density of a 4K television. The system includes a 7.2-inch-diagonal touch control panel driver information center to the driver’s left, a 14.2-inch-diagonal cluster display behind the steering wheel and a 16.9-inch-diagonal infotainment screen. Cadillac says the brightness of OLED technology eliminates the need for the common “hood” shrouding the screen.
2023 Cadillac Escalade V
Picking an Escalade V out of crowd is easy as Cadillac has heavily adapted the exterior on the new model. It comes with unique front and rear fascias, quad exhaust outlets as opposed to dual exhaust on the standard model and massive six-piston Brembo brakes along with special 22-inch wheels. Customers will also be able to hear it coming. In its loudest mode it will wake up the neighbors on startup. It also adds V-Series badging on the driver and front passenger doors, liftgate and throughout the interior.
Besides the 38-inch screen, the Escalade V offers a ton of tech inside with a new available Augmented Reality navigation that uses live street views with directional overlays to help direct the owner. Surround Vision is standard with four cameras to help parking. It also has a rearview camera, which helps when cargo or people are blocking the rearview mirror from inside the vehicle. Night Vision is also offered to help spot animals and pedestrians near the road in the dark.
The Trailering Integration Package has up to nine camera views to support easier hitching. The package includes a trailer brake controller and a trailering app that shows trailer profiles, tire pressure and temperature monitoring, along with an Extended Side Blind Zone Alert. Super Cruise, the company’s hands-free, eyes-up assisted driving is available and now works on more than 400,000 miles of roads in North America.
The new rear-seat entertainment has a pair of 12.6-inch screens that can stream YouTube and YouTube Kids, Netflix and the rest, through headphones so the rest of the passengers don’t have to hear. With HDMI inputs and a standard plug, passengers can also play video games or watch DVDs.
The cabin is comfortable with leather-wrapped, heated, cooled and massaging seats and the space feels enormous in any situation. The seats have adjustments for driver width and underknee support making long journeys easy, especially when Super Cruising. Speaking of, the system continues to improve and the takeoffs from a traffic light were especially smooth and timed correctly.
There are plenty of storage spaces in the doors and center console and views from the captain’s chair are excellent when looking down on most drivers on the road. The third row was never filled, and when folded down the Escalade offers 73 cubic feet of cargo space.
The OLED screens are excellent and come standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The available AKG Studio Reference 36-speaker audio system makes the interior sound like a concert hall, even if the driver is only playing podcasts.
The rear-seat entertainment is one of those things that a family doesn’t want to resort to, better to road trip with games and conversations, but will come in handy when the kids start getting ornery. YouTube is literally a never-ending source of entertainment.
For the 2023 model year Cadillac added the sporty V moniker to its biggest vehicle. The standard 420-horsepower (hp) 6.2-liter V8 is topped with a 2.65-liter supercharger bringing the power to an astounding 682 hp and 653 pound-feet of torque. All of that thrust is forced through a ten-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels.
Magnetic Ride Control and Air Ride Adaptive Suspension is standard and tuned specifically for the V-Series Escalade. There are selectable V-Modes with driver-customizable settings. The biggest changes are the active exhaust and the slightly stiffer suspension. As expected, even in the sportiest mode the cabin is still soft and comfortable, but the pops and backfires from the exhaust are a telltale that this vehicle is quick.
As far as thrust, the 2023 Cadillac Escalade V is laughably fast from stoplight, or during passing maneuvers on the expressway. The throttle sensitivity gets particularly quick in Sport mode and there are very few cars that can beat from point to point. The ten-speed transmission can shift several gears at a time, always giving more than enough power when requested.
The brakes are adjustable, which doesn’t always install confidence, but these are excellent. In Sport mode they stay stiff at the top of the brake pedal stroke, even slowing this 6,200-pound behemoth to a stop easily, except when on ice. There the Escalade can’t hide its weight and requires a delicate touch.
The 2023 Escalade V comes with automatic emergency braking, parking sensors, active lane control, and a surround-view camera system. Blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and automatic park assist are optional.
The Cadillac Escalade V’s ($80,090) main competitor is the Lincoln Navigator ($77,635), along with the three-row Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class ($81,800), Infiniti QX80 ($72,700) and a few others. As for speed, the Escalade V ($149,195) dominates those competitors, even in their faster forms. The Mercedes-AMG GLS63 is $133,095. It’s also cheaper than uber-luxury SUVs like the Bentley Bentayga ($160,000), though its way faster and has more of a presence on the street.
The Cadillac Escalade’s biggest problem is its Chevrolet Suburban cousin, which is excellent and now also features Super Cruise, along with a few off-road trims for those looking to go further than the pavement allows. It comes in as a steal at $56,900.
Topped out it costs about $75,000 before options, and features everything that Cadillac has but the prestige badge. However, there’s no Suburban V, and there’s no 38 inches of continuous screen. Still, those that need a seven passenger should start at the Chevy dealership, and mosey over to Cadillac after.
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