GM calls it “responsibility without sacrifice,” and perhaps that’s the best way to describe the 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, which recently made an appearance at the Dallas Auto Show. The quest for fuel efficiency has reached all the way to the top of automakers’ lineups, and even vehicles with long-standing reputations as gas guzzlers are cleaning up their acts, as the new Escalade Hybrid demonstrates. GM goes so far to call the Escalade Hybrid the world’s first large luxury hybrid SUV.
Like many hybrid vehicles, the Escalade Hybrid uses a two-mode hybrid system, which switches between an electric motor and a 332-horsepower, 6.0-liter V8 gas engine as the vehicle’s speed and power requirements vary. When the Escalade stops at a traffic light or slows in traffic, the gas engine shuts down and the SUV runs on the electric motor to conserve fuel. As the Escalade accelerates, it transitions to both the electric motor and gas engine, and under heavy acceleration or when full power is required, the SUV will run solely on the gas engine. This configuration results in a 45 percent improvement in fuel economy in the city, according to GM, although official mileage estimates from the EPA aren’t available yet.
Regenerative braking, which captures energy whenever the brakes are applied, keeps the on-board battery charged. The Escalade also comes equipped with Active Fuel Management, the first for a Cadillac. The system will shut down four of the engine’s eight cylinders, even at highway speeds, if they’re not required, improving fuel economy even more.
A full-color touch-screen Navigation Radio displays information about the hybrid system, and also displays the standard rear-view camera as well as controls for the Bose 5.1 surround-sound audio system and tri-zone automatic climate control. Nuance leather-covered seats and a power-assisted rear liftgate, which operates at the touch of a button, will be among the Escalade Hybrid’s other standard features.
The exterior design will retain the Escalade’s distinctive grille and chrome accents. Both two-wheel and four-wheel-drive trims will be available when the Escalade Hybrid goes on sale this summer.