2011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Luxury SUV

2011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Luxury SUV

The idea of a hybrid full-size luxury SUV immediately sparks cognitive dissonance. Hybrids are for sprout-eating environmentalists, aren�t they? And full-size luxury SUVs are for carnivorous conservatives, right?

Enter the 2011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, the full-size luxury SUV with a two-mode hybrid gasoline-electric powerplant.

The Escalade Hybrid is rated by the EPA to achieve 20 mpg city/23 mpg highway, a substantial increase over the gas-only Escalade�s 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway. Escalade Hybrid prices start at $74,135 ($89,090 as tested in Platinum AWD trim), backed by Cadillac�s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Every 2011 Cadillac also gets 4 years/50,000 miles of Cadillac Premium Care Maintenance.

Escalade Hybrid hasn�t changed much since it was first introduced as a 2009 model. It�s still a big, impressive vehicle, with elegant proportions and world-class finishes. Escalade Hybrid rolls out of the factory on gigantic 22? wheels, pre-blinging for your convenience. The Platinum trim level features LED headlamps, a high tech feature that will eventually trickle down to lesser vehicles.

Inside, Escalade Hybrid gets a nice level of luxury that�s very contemporary, almost European in feel. The old-school Cadillac plushness has been refined and sharpened. Clean and crisp has overtaken cushioned and soft. Cadillac can�t help but dump a gallon of gloss over its wood trim, but at least it looks like there�s some real grain underneath all that clear coat.

Up-to-the-minute technology abounds in the cockpit. GM�s OnStar integrates seamlessly with the onboard navigation system, with live operators available to download directions into the dash with the push of one button. Heated and ventilated seats, heated and cooled cup holders and other luxury features are available as options on the base Hybrid, standard on Platinum.

Not so up-to-the-minute is the third row of seating. It�s not so bad as seating for kids or small adults. But the cargo compartment is seriously compromised by the bulky seats, which don�t fold into the floor and must be removed in order to provide a flat load floor. Because each half of the third row seat weighs upwards of 40 lbs, this is no small task. With the third row in place, there�s only 16.9 cubic feet of luggage space, not nearly enough for the seven or eight passenger capacity of the Escalade Hybrid.

Driving the Escalade Hybrid is a pleasure. A 6.0-liter V8 gasoline engine provides most of the propulsion, with 332 hp and 367 lb-ft of torque on tap. Add in the electric motor with two-mode continuous electric ratio hybrid transmission with four fixed gears, and you�ve got a smooth riding, enthusiastic machine. Sure, the gas-only Escalade is a little faster, but the Hybrid does not disappoint. And it can run in electric-only mode at low speeds, which is completely silent and very cool. Escalade Hybrid is remarkably composed around curves and on rough surfaces, and is a positive locomotive on a long road trip.

As the only hybrid-powered full-size luxury SUV on the market, it�s tough to come up with comparisons for Escalade. GM also produces the GMC Yukon Hybrid and the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, less luxurious takes on the same platform that are somewhat less expensive. Other full-size luxury SUVs to consider include the Lexus LX 570, Infiniti QX56, Land Rover LR4 and Lincoln Navigator � but none of them will deliver Escalade Hybrid�s fuel economy numbers.

For now, the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid really is the Cadillac of hybrid-powered full-size luxury SUVs.


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