There are people who will buy the new Cadillac Escalade and complain. They'll moan that the 6.0L V-8 doesn't have enough horsepower (345). They'll balk at the standard plush interior. They'll even say the exterior styling isn't bold enough. To silence these discriminating buyers, Special Vehicle Concepts has massaged the full-size sport/utility into a heavy-duty sportland.

First order of business is the installation of a Magnacharger supercharger to provide a maximum 4.5 psi of boost. This Roots-type supercharger fits neatly under the stock hood and exudes a slight blower whine. Around town, the SVC Escalade is smooth and tractable, with none of the fickleness that seems to be a tuner hallmark. But mash the throttle and hang on (you'd better have it aimed in the right direction). With the addition of custom exhaust headers, a dual-muffler exhaust system, and a calibrated computer handling the air/fuel/ignition duties, 500 hp and 535 lb-ft of twist show up on the SVC's dyno. The result is a dramatic 0-60 mph time of 6.7 sec, while a stock Escalade takes 7.5.

Bringing this hefty beast to a stop is no small feat, but the installation of Brembo four-piston calipers with 14-in. front cross-drilled rotors reduces the stopping distance from 60 mph by 10 ft to 122. Surrounding the brakes are 20-in. wheels that team up with special-rate springs to lower the vehicle 3-in. and preserve ride quality. Charging through the slalom cones is a kick, as the big Cad dances around them almost 6 mph faster than stock at 59.8. Body roll is well damped as the larger anti-roll bars and urethane bushings help keep the shiny side up.

The exterior has been freshened, with body-color paint tastefully used to increase the Escalade's menacing posture. Driving around car-jaded Beverly Hills in the SVC Escalade is akin to a supermodel walking naked down Rodeo Drive: heads snap and people stare. Meanwhile, the driver is surrounded by lush leather, rich woods, and playing with a raft of electronic goodies. Ahhh, the good life.

Coveted by many but built in few numbers, the SVC Escalade is one of the best tuner vehicles on the road. Possessing incredible presence, power, and a price to match ($91,650), it's the rolling testimony that too much is a great place to start.


  Stock 2002 Escalade SVC Escalade
0-60 mph, sec 7.5 6.7
0-100 mph, sec N/A 19.5
1/4 mile 15.6 @ 88.2 14.9 @ 91.7
Braking, 60-0, ft 132 122
Slalom, mph 54.0 59.8
Price as tested $51,435 $91,650