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Auto review: Super-charged, Super Cruise, super-ute Cadillac Escalade-V is Hulk on wheels

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — The Cadillac Escalade-V’s specs seem like something out of a Marvel comics creative session: Big as Hulk, seats seven, built on a steel truck frame, cruises on autopilot — yet accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, dances on Corvette-inspired magnetic shocks, and stops on a dime with Brembo brakes the size of Captain America’s shield. Superhero stuff.

Oh, but it’s very real.

Like Hulk in that desert tank scene, I bounded across Arizona’s Tonto Basin northeast of Phoenix gulping miles of Route 188 real estate. ROARRRRRR! went the 682-horsepower, supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 as I took high-speed corners like a locomotive on rails. HUUUUHHH? went my brain wondering how this was possible in a 6,407-pound, three-row SUV that could comfortably transport the Phoenix Suns’ starting five plus standout sixth-man Cam Johnson.

The Escalade has been Cadillac’s halo vehicle for 23 years, setting the brand’s tone in style, design and notoriety. But adopting the V-series performance badge for 2023, Escalade-V takes its ambitions to another level: a halo vehicle for all SUVs. Forget your Merc G-wagons and Bimmer X7s. This super-ute represents the industry’s pinnacle in performance, design, comfort, driving-assist tech and just plain ol’ visceral fun.

Let me count the ways.

—Power. At the heart of the Escalade-V is the same nuclear power plant that motivates the 662-horsepower Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing that I hammered around Pittsburgh International Racing Complex last fall. Only the Escalade-V, ahem, increases the Blackwing’s output by another 20 ponies, thanks to the 2.65-liter supercharger ripped off the Corvette ZR-1 (the CT5-V’s supercharger merely gulps 1.7 liters of air).

 

My Marvel comic imagination thought that kind of power (and heat management) would require a hood scoop the size of my front door to manage, but no. The sheet metal changes are subtle, with larger “grillettes” on the fascia’s flanks and chin feeding air to the beast within.

Not so subtle are the four quad exhausts out back that burp at start-up like Hulk digesting an ox and a side of grenades. WAAWWRHGHH! Chief engineer Mike Symons and his devious minions were determined that the V have an assertive voice. The voice grows more pronounced in V-mode (the same selectable mode as the Blackwing, and a close cousin to Corvette’s Z-mode), complete with popping exhaust backwash when you let off the throttle.

At a rural intersection, I engaged Launch Control. Yes, Launch Control in a three-row SUV. Flatten the brake with my left foot, flatten the accelerator with my right. Release the brake, release the Kraken.

The monster erupted off the line, slinging rapid upshifts on its way past 60 mph in 4.5 seconds (the shorter wheelbase model will get you there a tenth quicker, says Symons).

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