You’re the only Henn-I-See.
As we stated in our prior ‘Cadillac Escalade Evolution’ piece, the current car is a pretty well-rounded piece of kit. However, us here at CarBuzz reckon that Cadillac missed out on one big trick with the Escalade: it didn’t make a high-performance ‘V’ version. It seems like a fairly big thing to overlook. Most of the other luxury SUV brands do sporty models of their huge 4x4s, and we’re certain the talented team that tuned and engineered the top-draw ATS-V and CTS-V would revel in the opportunity to turn a three-ton truck into a performance car.
For this moment in time, sadly, we won’t get the chance to see what a sportier Cadillac Escalade will look like. There’s been no official word from Cadillac on whether or not an ‘Escalade V’ will be put into production, and the only shred of evidence we have is an oh-so-short tweet from Motor Trend’s Jonny Lieberman that simply goes “Cadillac Escalade V? Believe it”. Thankfully, there is a way to make a more performance-orientated Cadillac Escalade: simply pick one up that’s been fettled by the Texan supercharger charmers at Hennessey Performance Engineering. As expected from a firm that will endow the 1,200 hp Venom GT with an extra 250 hp next year, Hennessey’s main fettling work is around the engine.
Using the standard Cadillac Escalade’s standard 420-hp 6.2-liter V8 engine as a base, the tweaked base Hennessey version manages to pump out a pretty considerable 545 hp. We say ‘base Hennessey version’, because the company offers more than one upgrade package for the Cadillac Escalade. If your bank balance is as big as your penchant for power, then Hennessey almost certainly has a supercharger kit that you’ll be interested in. For example, the next step up from the base Hennessey-tuned Cadillac Escalade comes with far beefier engine modifications (at 2.9 liters in size, the supercharger is double the size of the one in the 545-hp version).
Along with all the other tweaks and upgrades, power is upped to a beefy 600 hp – endowing this luxury SUV with more poke than any Porsche 911 variant currently on sale. If that’s not quite enough for you, then Hennessey also offers an ever more potent “HPE650” upgrade package for the Cadillac Escalade. The supercharger still remains the same size, as do the new core components, but extra tweaking and reworking manages to eke out an additonal 65 hp (shouldn’t that make it the “HPE665”, then?).
Essentially, the Cadillac Escalade HPE650 (as Hennessey officially calls the car) is the ideal alternative for buyers who would love to find out what a plush soft-roader would feel like to drive if it had the equivalent supercharged grunt of a Corvette Z06 under the hood. All of this extra aftermarket engineering, though, does come at a quite a mighty cost. Plump for the base HPE550 upgrade kit, for instance, and you’ll need to fork out $16,000. Factor in the cost of the most basic Cadillac Escalade you can currently buy (the $74,000 ‘Standard’ model with rear-wheel drive), and you’re looking at spending at least $90,000.
It’s still a bargain compared with other high-performance seven-seater SUVs (the Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG for instance, start at an eye-watering $121,000), but it’s still a helluva lot of dosh to spend.
But it is currently the closest thing we have to a Cadillac Escalade V. So, until Cadillac officially announces a high-performance Escalade, it seems John Hennessey and his team just down the road from Sealy in Texas are the only way you can get your quick Caddy SUV fix.