Cadillac has joined the super SUV wars with a red-hot variant of its monster Escalade. It’s big, it’s fast and it’s packing 6.2-litres of supercharged GM small-block muscle. Meet the 680PS (500kW), 653lb ft (885Nm) Escalade-V.
Yes, behind that all-consuming grille lays the heart of a supercar, the LT4 V8 as used in the C7 Corvette Z06, the Nürburgring monster Camaro ZL1 1LE and Cadillac’s latest uber saloon, the CT5-V Blackwing. The difference? The Escalade gets the most powerful version of that engine making it the second most powerful dealer-sold car General Motors has yet produced, behind only the 750PS (551kW) C7 Corvette ZR1.
So, what does all that power translate to, remembering of course the Cadillac’s considerable mass? Well, it’ll crack 60mph in a scarcely believable 4.4 seconds and consume a quarter-mile in 12.7 seconds. Handling all that power is an Electronic Limited-Slip Differential, magnetic dampers and monster Brembo brakes. That’s all stuff you’d once have imagined to be the preserve of the very fastest Corvettes but, like that engine, for 2023 you can have it all in an Escalade.
But how does that stack up against some of its more SUV-like competitors? Well, there aren’t many similar to the Escalade-V, but the Jeep Trackhawk, in the face of the Caddi, does retain its title of maddest American muscle SUV. It has over 700PS (514kW) and gets to 60mph in under four seconds. The big Caddi is a subtler performance application we reckon, with typical SUV traits still front and centre of its appeal. Consider for instance how proud they are that it’s rated to tow over three tonnes.
As ever with a flagship, though, there’s a rub, of a financial nature. A standard Escalade with its naturally-aspirated non-handbuilt V8 starts at $85,095. The Escalade-V, with its handbuilt supercharged V8 and trick chassis gear, starts at $151,215. That’s a hefty price given that for $30,000 less, US buyers can get their hands on a First Edition new Range Rover Sport, complete with 4.4-litre twin-turbo BMW V8 power. Yes, the Sport is less powerful and smaller but the point stands.
With European levels of performance, you lose some of the value proposition we’ve always loved about fast American cars. Regardless, it’s a 680PS Cadillac Escalade, which in the times we live in sounds absolutely absurd. Smells like a last hurrah to us…