Cadillac adds Escalade to V-Series performance lineup

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Whatever its all-electric future, General Motors Co. still is pumping out a suite of gasoline-fueled performance vehicles that soon include a new addition to Cadillac's V-Series: the Escalade-V.

This exclusive luxury SUV arriving this summer will be the industry's most powerful, GM claims, with its supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine. It delivers an estimated 682-horsepower and 653 pound-feet of torque at a starting price of nearly $150,000 a copy.

General Motors Co. is adding a Cadillac Escalade-V to its V-Series lineup, which is now in its fourth generation. The Escalade-V will be available this summer and starts at $149,990.

Meanwhile, Cadillac remains on a mission to be fully electric by 2030 and will start taking orders for its first electric offering, the Cadillac Lyriq electric crossover, on May 19. Production of the Lyriq started in March.

"We are committed to an all EV future, but that doesn't happen today, so we do have these ICE [internal combustion engine] variants that are going to be working alongside with the EVs that we will be coming out with in the very near future," said David Schiavone, Escalade product manager. 

The new Cadillac Escalade-V comes with a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 engine. It delivers an estimated 682-horsepower and 653 pound-feet of torque.

"But Escalade is so critical to Cadillac. It's kind of a brand unto itself, so we've got a big following and lots of loyal customers that have been asking, want the power, want the excitement of this vehicle, and so we're delivering it."

The addition makes sense given the consumer interest in specialized versions of SUVs, which is usually about the power they provide, said Stephanie Brinley, a principal automotive analyst for S&P Global. Pricing on the Escalade-V compares with a $135,000 starting price for the 2022 Mercedes-AMG GLS63, according to Car and Driver, and $99,800 on the BMW X7 M50i.

"It's the lower part of their volume, but they do have credibility with performance to be able to draw from and people want it and it should make some decent margin for them," Brinl said Stephanie Brinley, a principal automotive analyst for S&P Global. 

"With the EV transition taking time ... it's not that inconsistent for GM to express power in a variety of propulsion systems as the transition occurs."

Specifically, Cadillac is delivering an Escalade that it expects to be capable of going 0-60 mph in under 4.4 seconds and that gets a quarter-mile time of 12.74 seconds at 110 mph.

The Escalade-V comes with a 10-speed automatic transmission and full-time active all-wheel-drive system for better traction. 

The Cadillac Escalade-V comes with the brand's signature curved OLED screen with 38 inches of total diagonal display. It will also feature Super Cruise, General Motors Co.'s hands-free driver-assistance technology, including trailering and automatic lane change capabilities.

It's the first Cadillac SUV to enter the V-Series, which is "the ultimate expression of Cadillac's design, performance and technology," Schiavone said. The Escalade-V expands the V-Series lineup of sedans that launched in 2004 and is now in its fourth generation.

GM is committed to limited production on the Escalade-V making it the "most exclusive and most expensive Escalade ever," Schiavone added. GM does not break down production capacity for its vehicles. The V-Series option will also be available on the Escalade ESV, which has a longer wheelbase. 

To make it fit the V-Series lineup, Cadillac included a "V-Mode" on the new Escalade that allows drivers to personalize their experience. With a push of a button on the center console, the driver can switch to an optimum performance mode and can then tailor the preferred performance driving in six different areas.

For example, "the engine sound can be adjusted from the aggressive, throaty performance mode down to the quietest stealth mode,"  said Mike Symons, chief engineer of the Escalade-V.

Charles Allen, design systems engineer on the Escalade-V, noted this vehicle's engine will be made alongside the CT5-V Blackwing's at GM's Performance Build Center in Bowling Green, Kentucky. 

The Escalade-V engine has similar architecture to the CT5-5 Blackwing's supercharged V-8, but it has a larger 2.65-liter R2650 TVS supercharger "that helps overcome the higher inlet and exhaust restrictions on the full-size SUV application," Allen said. 

The design team on the Escalade-V had to balance making an exterior that lived up to the V-Series name, but also stayed true to the already powerful Escalade name. 

"We were very careful about tailoring the exterior styling to this. That's why you'll notice it's much more aggressive than today's Escalade, but not as aggressive as some of the Blackwing more track oriented competitors," said Robert Hunwick, design manager on the Escalade-V. 

The new Cadillac Escalade-V features performance-inspired styling including Edge Red brake calibers visible on the 22-inch aluminum wheels.

The Escalade V's 22-inch aluminum wheels showcase the Escalade V's Edge Red brake calibers and exclusive Brembo front brakes. It offers trim interiors in black or dark auburn, with zebra wood accents. Standard features include semi-aniline leather in all three rows, power massagers in the front seats and a heated steering wheel.

Technology on the Escalade-V includes a standard curved OLED screen with 38 inches of total diagonal display, a premium infotainment system with navigation featuring a 16.9-inch diagonal color information display and natural voice recognition, an augmented reality option that projects a live image of what is in front of the vehicle on the 14.2-inch-diagonal center cluster display and an AKG Studio Reference 36-speaker audio system. 

Cadillac recently revealed the new Escalade-V, which General Motors Co.'s luxury brand claims is the "most powerful SUV" available.

Super Cruise, GM's hands-free technology, which includes trailering and automatic lane-change capabilities, will be an option with late availability on the Escalade-V at the cost of $2,500, GM said. It is not included in the starting price of $149,990. A global supply crunch of semiconductor chips has hampered the automaker's ability to offer Super Cruise on some of its Cadillac models. 

GM last year nixed Super Cruise for a couple of months on the regular Escalade. The feature has returned to the full-size SUV but was removed this year from the CT4 and CT5. 

"Our supply chain team is working through the various chip issues across the board that we're facing, so I don't want to comment for sure right now on what the vehicles will or won't ship with," said Lizzy Dinnella, Cadillac assistant SUV marketing manager. "The vehicle is intended to have Super Cruise and we're going to do everything we can to bring it to market with Super Cruise, but if we can't, we can't. It's an incredibly crazy time out there."

Schiavone said "with great certainty" Super Cruise is not a technology that would be added later.

"The vehicle is a fully-loaded vehicle with every feature that we have in the Escalade portfolio, which is pretty much the most in the whole corporation, but due to a lot of safety concerns, we would never do that," he said. 

Cadillac is not taking customer orders for the new Escalade-V. Instead, the automaker will let dealers handle communication on the new product. Dealers can order the Escalade-V how they want it, or how a customer would like it, starting May 19.