• Aug 8th 2008 at 9:23PM
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As of this month GM is adding a third model to its family of Two-Mode hybrids as the Cadillac Escalade hybrid becomes the first luxury SUV so equipped. The Escalade is of course built on the same GMT900 platform as the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon. As such much of what goes in the places you can't see is exactly the same on all three vehicles including the entire powertrain. All three SUVs get the same 6.0L V8 paired up with the Two-Mode transmission. Unlike Chrysler's new hybrid SUVs all three GM trucks are available in either rear or all wheel drive.

The Escalade distinguishes itself from its siblings with unique front and rear styling and a significantly more upscale interior. If you thought the first two hybrid SUVs were expensive you haven't seen anything yet. The rear wheel drive Escalade price tag tips the scales at a mere $71,685 some $20,000 more than the Tahoe. That makes the Escalade the world's second most expensive hybrid behind the Lexus LS600h. Unlike the earlier hybrids GM is actually declaring that the Escalade hybrid commands a $3,600 price premium over a comparably equipped conventional model. We had a chance to take a short drive in the Escalade around Birmingham MI today.

Photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.
In short the Escalade driving experience was virtually identical to the GMC/Chevy versions. The firm brake pedal feel produced by the electro-hydraulic brake system remains and transitions between regenerative and friction braking were virtually indistinguishable. As in the other Two-Mode SUVs the 6.0L has been calibrated to stay in four cylinder mode much more of the time, instead relying on the electric motors to provide transient power for passing or climbing a grade. The EPA has rated the rear wheel drive Escalade at 20/21 mpg, 1 mpg less than the Tahoe/Yukon. In short it drives like a big, three ton SUV, albeit a very quiet one. Compared to its lesser siblings the heavier Escalade looses some towing capacity, dipping to 5,800 lbs for the RWD and 5,600 lbs for the AWD.

When asked whether the weak sales of the Tahoe and Yukon had impacted GM's decision making on the Escalade hybrid pricing, Cadillac officials acknowledged that it was one of many factors considered. Nonetheless this is one expensive truck. Cadillac plans to market this thing as what it is, an Escalade, but one that gets significantly better fuel mileage than a conventional model. The bold styling is apparently one of the main selling points of the Escalade and Cadillac chose not to mess with that and passed on giving the Escalade unique styling like it did with the Tahoe/Yukon.

The only distinguishing feature of the hybrid is all the hybrid badging of which there is plenty. The Escalade gets badges on the enlarged fender vents, the C-Pillars and the tailgate. Unfortunately like the earlier hybrids, GM has chosen to add large hybrid stickers to the both rocker panels, the top of the windshield and the rear window. Asked about it Cadillac officials explained that the badging is easily removable with a heat gun and dealers will do it for customers upon request. Perhaps GM should be shipping Escalades without stickers and having dealers apply them on request. On a $72,000 luxury SUV these things just look really tacky.

No one would talk about sales projections for the hybrid but Cadillac is expecting total sales in the mid to upper 40,000 range this year, down from about 58,000 in 2007. They do think that buyers of the Escalade might be more amenable to the price premium for the hybrid system. The Cadillac SUV gets almost the same mileage as the Lexus LS600h without sacrificing any cargo capacity to the battery. The Escalade is clearly not in direct competition with the LS but it does make an interesting comparison. Will the Escalade succeed in a market that is abandoning big SUVs in droves? Only time will tell.

Photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Here's the point:
      Lets say you are shopping for a luxury SUV, figure a Navigator, a Cayenne, a Land Rover, or this. This one hands down beats the rest in mileage. It's not like people are cross shopping this with a Prius.
      However, because the 'look' of an SUV is no longer popular, people who are image shopping won't buy it anyway. Still, technically its an impressive vehicle.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Lets say a stock Escalade gets perhaps 14mpg in real conditions and this thing might get, say, 19mpg in real conditions (especially stop start traffic..).

      Over 15,000miles/year, the hybrid will save over 1067 litres of gasoline.

      That's probably as much as my car uses in a year.

      So, yes, these things will save significant amounts of fuel.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @Blar: I agree the Sequoia is bad, too. Let's try this baseline: the Model T got 21 mpg. So, a century later the Escalade's improvements are greater speed and acceleration, 3 or 4 extra passengers, comfort and towing capacity.

        I removed safety from that list because the safety-per-unit-velocity-squared is a very fuzzy number, but likely to be lower since velocity squared is so much larger.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Let me teach you to speed read. First, reread your post and take 19 minutes to do it. Now listen up, here's the trick: reread your post and take 14 minutes to do it. Bingo! I just taught you to read 26% faster!

        My point is that it is very sad to call this % increase an "improvement" when the baseline was so poor. It's 2008. I expect much better, but not from the gray hairs in detroit.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @ Dean: a Toyota Sequoia gets 14/17mph in RWD trim, 13/16 in 4WD. Non Hybrid Escalade is 12/19 in RWD or AWD. Seems that the "grey haired" Detroit baseline isn't so bad compared to the competition.
      • 7 Years Ago
      My opinion on the looks of that "thing" is that it's absolutely revolting.
      Not because of its - supposedly - lousy environmental specification, but it really DOES look like a hippopotamus.

      Having been involved in car design for many decades, I'm just flabbergasted that kind of look actually is marketable.

      Sticker and badgets - or not - that is basically one ugly iron heap ;
      while coming from the same shores, the streamlined design of the SSC makes up the ultimate anti-pole.

      It's probably me : my aversion against heavy-weight vehicles is instinctive > > > it's
      the LESS MASS - the quicker, nimbler, more agile changes of speed or direction.

      - - - - - - - - -

      NOW we can talk environment ...

      • 7 Years Ago
      You'd figure GM would use the atkinson cycle cam in the 6.2, just for the Cadillac exclusivity.
      • 7 Years Ago
      honestly if someone gave me one to drive, id drive it. But at that price its nothing more than rich folks to go green.

      I rather see all SUVS be hybridized and see all regular ICE suv's die.
      • 7 Years Ago
      ABG should not review, and thus give attention to, vehicles like this. Achieving 21 mpg is neither news nor laudable. There's nothing Green about this vehicle. Leave it for the mainstream greasemonkey press.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Let's see you create an 8 passenger SUV with over 30 MPG and a V8. What's the matter? Not possible?

        If you can't do better, don't even complain about companies that are at least trying.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yeah, an 8-passenger full-size SUVbrid that uses carbon fibre composites and aluminum/titanium/magnesium etc. so that it weighs less than 2 tons and gets 30mpg? _THAT_ is news.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @Torrent: you missed my point completely. I didn't make a single complaint about Cadillac in the original post. I am trying to discourage autoblogGREEN from giving any free advertising to a vehicle that has mileage comparable a Model T. At 21 mpg, even this hybrid is a guzzler.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I notice a lot of the comments here are along the lines of: "I am aghast!! How dare they take the holy name of HYBRID and apply it to something that doesn't look like a toaster!" I swear, some of you won't be happy until you force the rest of us to pedal bicycles to work and to our family members 180 miles away...If someone who would have bought a 14 mpg SUV bought this 21 mpg SUV instead, then it IS a net good, because there are many situations (for instance, those who own boats or businesses that require hauling) where a truck or SUV is the only practical option. If you want a place where the gov't can force you to buy what they want you to buy (for the good of the planet, of course), move to, o, say, Cuba. America is for Liberty, and despite all the efforts to the contrary, that is what it shall remain as long as I still live.
      • 7 Years Ago
        • 7 Years Ago
        Hybrid badges are the new 22" spinners. Now if someone could invent 22" hybrid spinners, boy would he be raking it in.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Could they not use a much smaller V6 or turbo 4 (even as a generator) to make these elephants go? Isn't the huge V8 excess? Please advise : )

      It seems they are big on keeping the towing power, maybe because lots are also boat owners.

      What do you all think?

        • 7 Years Ago
        A smaller in regards to the non-hybrid, or hybrid?

        I think GM should have used a c. 350hp Atkinson (regular fuel) 6.2, hey if you are dropping $70K, you should get something nice.

        If GM gets something better than a 6 speed automatic, then a nice and large V6, (say lobbing two cylinders off the LS3, for 4.6 liter 350hp V6) and coupled that to a 7, 8, or 9 speed automatic.

        But it seems like GM will go to a 7 speed double clutch, which means sticking with a V8. So maybe GM will upgrade from VCT to VVT, via coaxial camshafts, and/or direct injection for enhanced efficiency.

        I foresee GM, Ford, and Chrysler merging, (and getting access to others resources) or going bankrupt.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Towing capacity is a selling point on these (whether it is used or not) A smaller engine would not be able to meet the sustained high output needed to tow large loads.
      • 7 Years Ago
      @ #6 "andytk"

      ... eh , no, those things won't "save significant amounts of fuel" ;

      they'll WASTE significant amounts of fuel
      ( I can not let your statement stand unchallenged ).

      There's no way all these overweight "SUV"s are actually indispensible or even fill a reasonable, rational need.

      Rather, it's like the clear-sighted point of #9 "nick l" :
      it's almost completely a mental health issue.
      Or - problem, really.
      All overweight is a problem.

        • 7 Years Ago
        Indespensible? I suppose not, one could get a Yukon instead.

        Reasonable, rational need? Yes. Some people have hobbies that involve towing heavy loads. If those people want to tow in luxury, it's their money.

        Just because most SUV's are not used for their intended purpose, don't blame the manufacturer, blame the wasteful consumer.
      • 7 Years Ago
      a Hybrid Escalade - the Hollywood Celebrity's wet dream... (arguable) green "cred" AND bling.

      Now, put some wind vanes on those spinners and you've got four 22" turbines - haha!
      • 7 Years Ago

      It's junk.
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