Cadillac's new Escalade Hybrid uses GM's 2-Mode Hybrid system to reduce fuel consumption yet retain the traditional capabilities of a full-size SUV. It's available in rear- or four-wheel-drive form, and its hybrid system works with a V-8 gasoline engine. Primary competitors include the related Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and GMC Yukon Hybrid. The Escalade Hybrid hits dealerships in summer 2008.
The overall shape of the Escalade Hybrid differs little from its conventional counterpart, but Cadillac has added Hybrid badges to the front fenders, C-pillars and liftgate. With all that extra trim work, there won't be any question in the minds of passersby as to what type of vehicle you're driving.
Standard chrome wheels measure 22 inches in diameter, and the Escalade Hybrid has a power liftgate.
The cabin is largely the same as a regular Escalade's, but there are a few hybrid-specific features. The Escalade Hybrid's instrument cluster gains an additional gauge that monitors the efficiency of the vehicle, and the instrument panel gets some Hybrid graphics, too. The standard navigation system screen can also display a graphical representation of the hybrid system and its operation.
The Escalade Hybrid has seating for up to eight people in three rows, and there's 16.9 cubic feet of cargo room behind the last row. Two interior colors — Ebony and Cashmere — are offered, and leather seats are standard.
Under the Hood
The Escalade Hybrid has a 332-horsepower, 6.0-liter V-8 engine that features cylinder-deactivation technology, which allows the engine to run on four cylinders when conditions are right. This engine works with an electrically variable transmission with four gears and a 300-volt battery pack.
The 2-Mode Hybrid system allows the Escalade Hybrid to accelerate from a stop and cruise at slow speeds on electric power alone. When more power is needed, the gas engine will kick on to provide supplementary power. Like most hybrids, the Escalade Hybrid captures energy during braking and stores it in the hybrid battery pack for later use.
Cadillac says the Escalade Hybrid will achieve more than a 50 percent improvement in city fuel economy, which means consumers should expect a city mpg estimate of about 18 mpg, as opposed to 12 mpg for the regular Escalade. That's a pretty significant improvement, but 18 mpg doesn't necessarily scream frugality, either.
When properly equipped, a rear-wheel-drive Escalade Hybrid can tow up to 6,000 pounds, while four-wheel-drive versions have a maximum of 5,700 pounds. A regular Escalade, in comparison, can pull up to 7,700 pounds.
Standard features include antilock brakes, an electronic stability system and three-row side curtain airbags.