DETROIT - The Cadillac Escalade luxury SUV will muscle into the fast lane with a V-10 or V-12 engine, possibly as early as the 2006 model year.
The move is in keeping with General Motors' plans to create a series of exclusive high-performance cars and SUVs for Cadillac called the V Series. The first of those models, the CTS-V sports sedan, is in showrooms. The CTS-V is powered by a V-8 derived from the engine used in the Chevrolet Corvette.
GM is building a plant in Wixom, Mich., to produce engines for low-volume, high-performance vehicles.
The automaker expects the plant to be building engines by the summer of 2005. That means an engine could become available for the 2006 model year. "Obviously we wouldn't be putting in place a low-volume build center if we didn't choose to have a little fun here," says Tom Stephens, GM vice president in charge of global powertrains. "It's part of our product strategy. We'll need a place to build some of those high-image products."
Those high-image products will carry a higher price tag. The CTS-V sells for $49,300 - about $18,000 more than a base CTS. The Escalade, which is sold with a choice of two V-8s, starts at $52,830, including destination charges.
Engineers are testing on Detroit roads at least four high-performance engines in a fleet of Escalades.
"You will find Cadillacs running around with higher-output V-8s, running around with V-10s (and) V-12s," Stephens says, "and you will find even one variant with even more cylinders."
That other variant is the 16-cylinder engine from the Cadillac Sixteen concept car. GM Powertrain engineers have installed a 16-cylinder engine in a test Escalade. But that engine, rated at 1,000 hp, may be too expensive to produce.
The most likely big displacement engine for the high-performance Escalade is the Northstar-based XV-12, which fits in the same space as the vehicle's current optional 6.0-liter V-8.
That means the Escalade could get a V-12 without extensive reworking of the sheet metal.
The Escalade is scheduled for a redesign in 2007 or 2008. A high-performance engine for 2006 would help keep interest in the current model strong while Cadillac prepares the next version.