Cadillacís Escalade has been a big success for the brand. It takes the
full-size SUV platform it shares with Chevrolet and GMC and loads in
luxury features and then throws in some Cadillac styling and plenty of
big chrome logos and presto! The King of Bling is now the Hybrid King of
The 2008 Chevy Tahoe
was named Green Car of the Year by Green Car magazine at the 2008 Los
Angeles Auto Show, so you could see this coming. Why not, they figured,
put the hybrid platform under the Caddy too? So they have for 2009.
Itís a nice idea
really. The carís two-mode hybrid system mates an electrically variable
six-speed transmission and a 300-volt nickel-metal hydride Energy
Storage System (ESS) to a big, six-liter V8 and two electric motors that
drive the rear wheels. The V8 uses active fuel management (AFM), which
shuts off half of the cylinders when less power is needed. You canít
tell when it happens.
What really makes a
difference is when the car uses only electric power at low speeds and
the engine shuts down completely at stoplights. Then the gas engine
starts up instantly when needed. You canít hear it start because itís
not using the regular gear reduction starter and there is no time delay.
As in other hybrids,
regenerative braking produces electricity for the motors in the car. The
Escalade Hybrid uses fully blended braking, alternating between the
regenerative system and the carís normal hydraulic system as needed.
This tends to preserve the friction materials in the hydraulic brakes, a
nice side benefit.
The engineers provide a
new exhaust system and thereís a quieter air conditioning compressor, a
new electric power steering motor which is not only quieter but improves
fuel mileage slightly, and the batteryís cooling fan is specially tuned
for noise reduction.
Yes, the Toyota Prius
Hybrid boasts 48 City, 45 Highway miles per gallon. But itís not a
Cadillac, and wonít carry eight people in luxury. Escalade Hybrid buyers
want their large, comfy vehicle, but hope to do something to assuage
their guilt and help the environment, perhaps.
It does make some
difference. The gasoline-powered Escalade, with its 6.2-liter V8, earns
12 mpg in the city City and 19 mpg Highway. The Hybrid, on the other
hand, is rated at 20 City and 21 Highway. This means that the Hybrid is
more than 50 percent better in town, thanks to running part-time on pure
electricity and the engine shutdowns at lights. Itís about 10 percent
better on the highway than the standard Escalade.
I averaged 16.6 mpg
during my test week, which beats the 12.2 mpg I got in the 2007 Escalade
I last tested. In the EPAís Green Vehicle Guide, the Escalade Hybrid
earns a reasonable 6 for Air Pollution and 5 for Greenhouse Gas score.
The standard car gets a 7and a 2 with two-wheel drive.
planners are smart and have loaded up the Hybrid with everything buyers
might want. You also get numerous Hybrid badges, decals and window
stickers that proclaim ďHybridĒ all over the car.
Loaded means you get
things like 14-way power nuance leather seats that you can heat or cool,
22-inch chromed aluminum wheels, a great Bose 5.1 Stereo Surround audio
system with XM satellite radio, a navigation system, and much, much
My Black Raven tester
had only one option, power retractable assist steps at a cost of $1,095.
These ďrunning boardsĒ slip under the car when you donít need them, like
those on an airplane. Four-wheel drive is about the only other option.
The Escalade is
powerful and smooth on the road, as it had better be for all it
promises. Nuance leather is very soft and with my carís Ebony interior
was rich looking with handsome metallic accents. GMís interiors have
come a very long way.
I was surprised at a
few things that donít match up with a Lexus, however. The steering wheel
height adjustment was power, but there was no telescoping feature. I
felt a sharp plastic edge next to the parking brake release. And,
despite a fancy key fob for remote access, there was a separate
old-fashioned ignition key.
Safety and security
features include everything from a full complement of airbags,
ultrasonic rear parking assist and the suddenly popular side blind zone
alert. When a car is in your blind spot on either side, a sideways ďVĒ
lights up on your exterior mirror. If you use your turn signal while a
car is present, the system beeps, warning you to stay in your lane.
The Escalade Hybrid
costs $72,595 plus a nearly $1,000 destination charge. The least
expensive non-hybrid Escalade starts at $61,595. That $11,000 difference
shrinks significantly when you add in the options that are standard on
the Hybrid, but it does cost more for the improved mileage and bragging
rights. If you want a Luxury Hybrid SUV then this Cadillac Escalade is
By Steve Schaefer
© AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Byline: Hybrid Review provided by Tony
Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
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Column Name: The King
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Topic: The 2009
Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
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2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Internet Media
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