A luxury rocket-powered family transporter
The Cadillac Escalade has been the luxury automakers’ best-selling vehicle for two years and shows no signs of slowing down in its fifth generation, launched in 2020 for the 2021 model year. The Escalade was created to fight big SUVs from Lincoln and other luxury competitors, although it took some time to convince the brass because in the 1990s Cadillac only made luxury sedans. He eventually broke that rule.
For 2021, it updated the statement the Escalade’s exterior makes with updated vertical lighting elements, but with a horizontal headlight to reinforce a wide stance. The vertical taillights continue but with 3D layers and new engraving. Twenty-two-inch wheels are standard on the seven- or eight-seat SUV.
The Escalade now offers a Sport finish with new grille textures in black. Luxury and Premium Deluxe models have a gloss finish, while Platinum Premium models come with their own unique interior and exterior details.
The biggest new feature for the next generation was the addition of the Escalade’s first curved OLED display with a 38-inch display area and twice the pixel density of a 4K TV. The system includes a 7.2-inch-diagonal touch-panel Driver Information Center to the left of the driver, a 14.2-inch-diagonal cluster display behind the steering wheel, and a 16-inch infotainment screen. 9 inches diagonally. Cadillac claims the brightness of OLED technology eliminates the need for the common “hood” that wraps around the screen.
2023 Cadillac Escalade V
Picking an Escalade V from the crowd is easy because Cadillac has heavily tailored the new model’s exterior. It comes with unique front and rear fascias, quad tailpipes 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 neighbors on startup. It also adds V-Series badging to the driver and front passenger doors, tailgate and throughout the interior.
Besides the 38-inch screen, the Escalade V offers a ton of tech inside with new augmented reality navigation available that uses live street views with directional overlays to help direct the owner. Surround Vision is standard with four cameras to assist with parking. It also has a rear view camera, which helps when cargo or people block 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 offers up to nine camera views for easy hitching. The bundle includes a trailer brake controller and towing app that displays trailer profiles, tire pressure and temperature monitoring, and extended blind spot 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 outlet, 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 huge in any situation. The seats are adjustable for driver width and under-knee support, making long drives easier, especially in Super Cruising. Speaking of which, the system continues to improve, and takeoffs from a traffic light were particularly smooth and timed correctly.
There’s plenty of storage in the doors and center console and the view from the captain’s seat is excellent when watching most drivers on the road. The third row has never been filled, and when folded, 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 36-speaker AKG Studio Reference audio system gives the interior the sound of a concert hall, even if the driver is only listening to podcasts.
Rear entertainment is one of those things a family doesn’t want to resort to, better off on a road trip with games and conversation, but will come in handy when the kids start to get nasty. YouTube is literally an endless source of entertainment.
For the 2023 model year, Cadillac added the sporty V moniker to its larger vehicle. The standard 6.2-liter V8 developing 420 horsepower (hp) is topped with a 2.65-liter supercharger bringing power to an incredible 682 hp and 653 lb-ft of torque. All that thrust is forced through a ten-speed four-wheel automatic transmission.
Magnetic Ride Control and Air Ride Adaptive Suspension are standard and tuned specifically for the V-Series Escalade. There are selectable V-Modes with rider-customizable settings. The biggest changes are the active exhaust and slightly stiffer suspension. As expected, even in the sportiest mode, the cabin is still soft and comfortable, but the rattling and backfiring of the exhaust indicates that this vehicle is fast.
When it comes to thrust, the 2023 Cadillac Escalade V is ridiculously fast right from a red light or during passing maneuvers on the freeway. 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 change multiple gears at once, always giving more than enough power when needed.
The brakes are adjustable, which doesn’t always instil confidence, but they’re excellent. In Sport mode, they stay stiff at the top of the brake pedal stroke, even slowing this 6,200-pound monster to a stop easily, except when it’s on ice. There, the Escalade does not hide its weight and asks for 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 parking assist are optional.
The main competitor to the Cadillac Escalade V ($80,090) is the Lincoln Navigator ($77,635), along with the three-row Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class ($81,800), Infiniti QX80 ($72,700) and some others. As for speed, the Escalade V ($149,195) dominates these competitors, even in their fastest forms. The Mercedes-AMG GLS63 costs $133,095. It’s also cheaper than ultra-luxury SUVs like the Bentley Bentayga ($160,000), though it’s faster and has more street presence.
The Cadillac Escalade’s biggest problem is its excellent Chevrolet Suburban cousin, which now also offers Super Cruise, as well as a few off-road versions for those looking to go further than the pavement allows. This is a $56,900 theft.
Completed, it costs around $75,000 before options and includes everything Cadillac has except the prestige badge. However, there’s no Suburban V, and there’s no continuous 38-inch screen. Still, those who need a seven-passenger should start at the Chevy dealership, and then head to Cadillac.