PHOENIX — When it comes to luxury nameplates, BMW has long banked on the 3 Series sedan, billed as the ultimate driving machine, while the E Class sedan has carried the torch for Mercedes-Benz and the RX crossover has been a gold mine for Lexus.
Cadillac, feeling some heat in the light-truck market on its 120th anniversary, is cranking up the volume on its undisputed crown jewel.
Large luxury SUVs are moving more upscale in price, content and performance — see the 2022 Range Rover with optional third-row seating — and new entrants such as the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, which can top $100,000, are crowding in, so the Cadillac Escalade is getting fortified with an extreme performance model.
The 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V, packing a 682-hp, 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine with 653 pound-feet of torque, is a 3-ton luxury SUV that zips from 0 to 60 mph in under 4.4 seconds.
Priced at $149,000, including shipping, it will become the most expensive Cadillac on the market, delivering more profit to General Motors, though volume will be low. The Escalade-V also will be available as an extended- wheelbase ESV, a variant representing about 30 percent of Escalade volume, priced from $152,990.
The Escalade is the first utility vehicle from Cadillac to wear a V Series badge, aimed at taking on the likes of BMW’s M performance brand or Mercedes-Benz’s AMG division.
Cadillac launched the V subbrand with the 2004 CTS-V sedan, which had a 400-hp V-8, and customers have become key advocates for the brand.
One of GM President Mark Reuss’ top requests for the team developing the newest Escalade was to ensure it turned heads and sounded like a V Series.
Based on research, Cadillac officials are convinced there is nothing comparable to the Escalade-V in the three-row luxury SUV market today. In addition to the latest Range Rover, powered by a 523-hp, 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 built by BMW, the closest rivals would be BMW’s Alpina XB7 and the Mercedes-AMG GLS63, though some analysts classify the latter two models as midsize SUVs.
A frequent question, given the Escalade’s success over the years, is what took so long to bring a V Series variant to market? Cadillac officials say changing corporate priorities, rigorous development requirements and the pandemic all played a role in the timing.