General Motor’s luxury arm, Cadillac, has an answer for all the environmentalists out there who want to have their lavish SUV and drive it too. This is mainly due to the vehicle’s 6.0 Liter Vortec combined with an electric generator in the transmission housing to create the world’s first large luxury hybrid SUV. Don’t be fooled by the amount of Hybrid logos strewn about the Escalade, this is truly a big money machine. From our car’s Quicksilver exterior to the Ebony interior the Escalade Hybrid is all about style. Our $70,375 Escalade Hybrid rolls around on stylish 22 inch chromed rims connected to magnetic ride control shock absorbers that soak up ever imperfection on the road’s surface.
Thanks to the 2-Mode Hybrid system with active fuel management the 5,000 pound SUV is able to get 20 MPG in the city and 21 MPG while cruising at highway speeds. The Escalade Hybrid comes equipped with convenience features like a power lift gate, folding side mirrors and rain sensing wipers, the only thing missing is for someone to hitch up your trailer for you. Combined with the always-great Onstar road side assistance standard as well as a 4 year 50,000 mile warranty and a 8 year 100,000 hybrid component warranty you can rest assured about the reliability of your new gas/electric vehicle, and despite the fact that the Escalade Hybrid isn’t quite as clean as the lovable Toyota Prius, it is definitely a green vehicle.
From the outside, our Quicksilver Cadillac Escalade Hybrid looks just like the standard luxury SUV offered from one of the surviving branches of General Motors. Unlike the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, a vehicle with which the Cadillac shares many components, Ed Welburn’s crew decided not to go with a lower hanging, more aerodynamic front end. The only thing that will distinguish you as an environmentally friendly driver are the numerous “HYBRID” logos. No matter whether they were etched into glass, or as part of a tacky plastic fender vent, our Escalade had no problem letting the literate world know what exactly it was hiding underneath.
As far as Escalades go, ours was very nice, it came equipped with retractable running boards, that when stowed away doubled as an attractive rocker panel. The shiny strip of metal tied the chromed 22 inch rims together nicely. Overall our Escalade Hybrid had the same bold presence as any full size SUV on the road today, it is hard to imaging an Escalade in anything other than white or black, but Quicksilver is Cadillac’s signature color, so it is only fitting that their truck for the 21st century be wearing it.
The biggest drawback from the vehicle’s exterior is the overabundance of “HYBRID” logos, sure they are neat at first, and despite distinguishing our Escalade as a hybrid from any angle, they are a bit much. The windshield treatment is nice, but do you want to look at the large “HYBRID” strewn across the side of your truck everyday. General Motors is also pushing the elegance of an Escalade with the computer chip looking “H” emblems on the C-pillars, but they go too far with the gaudy fender vents. It could be that sticking plastic trim pieces to your fender is in fashion, but Cadillac should know well enough to leave that up to the aftermarket.
The interior of our Escalade is comfortable and luxurious as a $70,000 vehicle should be. From the nuance leather driver’s seat you can enjoy an 8 inch navigation screen that can control or display everything from the 6 disc CD changer, AM/FM/XM radio stations, DVD player, navigation, back up camera and our personal favorite, the power distribution display that is an interesting animation about what exactly the Hybrid two-mode system is doing. The rear seat passengers will appreciate the flip down Panasonic DVD screen and everyone inside can enjoy the Bose 5.1 surround sound system.
The interior of the Escalade is adorned with a combination of wood grain, metal trim and the traditional black dash. The material that came from the forest covers the center stack, steering wheel and accents the armrest in a very upscale manner. The most impressive use of metal comes directly in front of the passenger riding in shotgun. The dash trim starts with a hybrid badge on the left hand side and is balanced by a cursive Cadillac engraved onto the other side.
One of the most engaging aspects of the Hybrids interior is the Efficiency gauge. We were constantly trying to keep the dial in the green, but that proved to be a bit difficult. What is odd about the way that the GM engineers set up the dials to rotate clockwise, whereas the gauge that displays the vehicle’s fuel economy spins in the opposite direction. Why they did it that way, no body knows?
The Cadilac Escalade Hybrid drove like you would expect any luxury SUV to. Although there was enough ground clearance from this body on frame truck to take it off-road, the suspension was so softly sprung and comfortable that we never even considered it thanks to the magnetic ride control system. You would expect that a vehicle of this size would have the steering feel of a Mack truck, but the directional controls can be easily managed with only the touch of a pinky. The hybrid aspect of this vehicle didn’t change the way our Escalade drives; it did change how we drove the Escalade, especially if the power display was active. We would find ourselves creeping around in an all-electric vehicle most of the time. The only problem with a hybrid of this nature, is that due to the vehicle’s extra weight from items like batteries, as well as the additional rotating mass from the hybrid electric generator; these car’s highway fuel mileage suffers, only 1 MPG better than city driving according to EPA estimates, but around town thanks to GM’s 2-Mode Hybrid System, we barely used any of the petroleum based product at all.
Why to buy?
The Cadillac Escalade Hybrid is just what you have been looking for if you are looking to pick up women at an environmentalist rally. The Escalade Hybrid is more of a status symbol than a green car, but either way it is a step in the right direction. This Escalade has the word “Hybrid” written in so many places that it is unmistakable as an environmentally friendlier option. So if any of those things sound interesting to you, go test drive an Escalade Hybrid.
Why not to buy?
If you are a closet environmentalist and don’t want your friends down at the industrial plant to find you out, the Escalade’s numerous logos will give you away for sure. If the price is an issue, check out the Tahoe Hybrid, which is the same truck with a slightly lower trim. The other Hybrid SUV success story is the Lexus RX400h, although this is much more of an SUV with a much softer ride and way more body roll.
Top Speed Final Verdict
About a decade or so ago, the term truck was banned from the automotive dictionary as it referred to any road going passenger vehicle. Aside from the fact that they took up too much space on the road and their gas mileage made environmentalists sick. So Detroit got to thinking and introduced a whole series of smaller trucks, only this time they were sport utility vehicles. Except that when gas prices rose last summer there wasn’t an automaker willing to sell anymore of those sporty off roaders. Once again the plus sized people movers needed a new name to distract from the negative image associated with being anything close to a truck, so they invented the crossover. Like minivans for people who want to have fun, while SUV’s put truck bodies on top of car platforms, crossovers for the most part are front wheel drive. Gone are the vehicle’s rugged go anywhere appeal, no more summers of boat hauling not even a spare tire. Cadillac has come up with a solution to the negative stigma associated with being a truck, and they have written it enough times throughout the vehicle’s exterior so that you know from every angle. With the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, you can have your truck and drive it too.
In order to fully appreciate the Escalade, you must observe while sitting in traffic from another, smaller, less expensive car. While looking at your cheap plastic trim you dream about how comfortable the passengers of the luxurious Escalade must be with their tri zone climate controls and nuance leather captain’s chairs watching a flip down DVD screen.