Early details on the 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid leaked onto the web yesterday morning, and you can read Damon's early rundown on the essentials here. Now that Cadillac has released the full info and tech specs, we can break it down pretty simply. The Cadillac Escalade Hybrid uses the exact same 2-Mode hybrid powertrain as both the Yukon and Tahoe hybrids. Unlike its platform cousins, however, the Escalade does not incorporate any weight-saving measures. It does incorporate Hybrid badges in the fender vents and "H" logos by the rear windows. We're assuming (and hoping) the giant "H Y B R I D" door decals are to make the display car stand out on the floor at the auto show down in Miami this week.
We talked to a Caddy rep who told us that the decision was made not to diminish the Escalade in any way, so the seats retain all their stuffing, the front end gets no aero tweaks, and the bodywork doesn't get any lightweight elements like the Chevy and GMC trucks. Now, according to GM, the use of the hybrid system increases fuel economy by at least 50% anyway. If you figure that the standard 6.2L Escalade is good for 9 or 10 real-world MPG combined, it should be good for at least 18 mpg or so on the highway. We doubt it'll match the 21/22 (2WD) and 20/20 (4WD) city/hwy EPA ratings of the Tahoe Hybrid simply because the 'Slade outweighs it by 110 pounds in 2WD form and 181 when equipped with 4WD.
That said, if the Escalade really can actually get mileage in the mid to upper-teens it's an impressive feat, no matter how you look at it. This is a 3-ton truck after all, and we've driven midsize crossovers that struggle to get that kind of fuel economy. Those interested in towing stuff can pull 6,000 lbs with the 2WD truck and 5,700 lbs with the 4WD variant. As for the target audience, it's basically Escalade shoppers willing to pony up an additional premium to use less gas or to simply flash some green cred via the Hybrid badges.
GM's full press release is included after the jump and the gallery contains 14 hi-res photos.
ESCALADE HYBRID: CADILLAC PREMIERES THE FIRST HYBRID IN A LARGE LUXURY SUV
MIAMI – Cadillac announced the world premiere of the Escalade Hybrid, the world's first fuel-saving hybrid applied to a large luxury SUV. Powered by an innovative, fuel-saving 2-Mode Hybrid system, Escalade Hybrid will deliver more than a 50-percent improvement in fuel economy in city driving – all while delivering the same distinctive style, segment-leading features and full-size capability that have made the Escalade an icon.
"Escalade, already the sales and style leader among large luxury SUVs, now adds the desirability of a fuel-saving, technically advanced hybrid system," said Jim Taylor, Cadillac general manager. "The arrival of Escalade Hybrid means that consumers can now use less fossil fuel, reduce emissions and still enjoy the benefits of a full-size luxury SUV."
The Hybrid goes on sale in the summer of 2008 and is the newest example of Escalade's technology leadership.
"No other manufacturer offers a hybrid than can seat eight luxuriously while simultaneously carrying or trailering lots of cargo comfortably," Taylor said. "And no hybrid delivers the dramatic presence that is synonymous with Escalade."
Escalade Hybrid is available in 2WD and 4WD configurations. It delivers up to 6,000 pounds (2,722 kg) of usable towing capacity on 2WD models and 5,700 pounds (2,565 kg) on 4WD models. All of Escalade's standard comfort and convenience features are included. This includes an eight-inch, touch-screen navigation system that displays performance readouts of the 2-Mode Hybrid system on the screen.
Escalade Hybrid extends Cadillac's leadership in the large luxury SUV category. Escalade sales have grown in the face of changing sales trends and increased competition. In fact, Escalade sales increased 22 percent in September over year-ago sales. Other models in the Escalade lineup include the extended-length Escalade ESV and the versatile Escalade EXT luxury-utility truck. The Hybrid model is available with the standard Escalade body style.
Patented 2-Mode Hybrid technology
The Escalade's 2-Mode Hybrid system allows it to return exceptional fuel economy in both city and highway while delivering the capabilities of a true luxury SUV. In city driving, this advanced hybrid power system enables Escalade to launch and drive low speeds on electricity alone. As additional power is demanded, the system blends output from the battery and gas engine smoothly.
GM's patented 2-Mode Hybrid system consists of an advanced electrically variable transmission (EVT) and 300-volt nickel-metal hydride Energy Storage System (ESS). These systems work in concert with the standard 6.0L V-8 Gen IV gasoline engine with Active Fuel Management (AFM) and late-intake valve closing (LIVC) technology. AFM enables the V-8 engine to seamlessly shut off half of its cylinders when less power is needed, such as during highway cruising. This new hybrid system not only enables the Escalade Hybrid to drive low speeds on electricity alone, it also allows the 6.0L V-8 engine to operate in its more economical four-cylinder mode for longer periods.
The key to Escalade's 2-Mode hybrid system is that the electric power used to propel the vehicle is generated by the hybrid system itself. When the brakes are applied or the vehicle is coasting, the electric motors within the hybrid system create electricity that is stored in the 300-volt battery. This stored energy is used to move the vehicle and the regenerative braking cycle is renewed.
The 2-Mode Hybrid system provides seamless, dependable power on demand in an efficient package. In fact, its electric motor is less than half the size of those in single-mode hybrid systems. This technology was developed and is still used in fleets of hybrid transit buses on the streets today in dozens of major North American cities. Scaled-down for use in full-size SUVs, the 2-Mode system delivers fuel savings where it is needed most – in large vehicles with high levels of capability. It is a core part of GM's energy diversity efforts, which are centered on reducing dependence on petroleum, improving fuel economy, reducing emissions and minimizing the automobile's impact on the environment.
Cadillac's smooth and quiet power
Acoustic details specific to the Hybrid model ensure it delivers the superior luxury that has been an Escalade hallmark since its inception. The details include:
• A new exhaust system and resonator specially tuned for the 6.0L LIVC engine's Active Fuel Management operation. It ensures comfortable interior acoustics and a pleasant exhaust note during both V-4 and V-8 operation
• An electrically driven, 300-volt air conditioning compressor reduces vibration and allows the HVAC system to cool the passenger compartment even when the gasoline engine is shut off. It includes the standard tri-zone climate system
• An electrically driven, 42-volt variable-assist power steering reduces vibration and provides up to a 0.5-mpg fuel economy improvement by reducing parasitic losses common in belt-driven hydraulic systems
• The Energy Storage System cooling system's internal fan is tuned to be quiet at low vehicle speeds, when the fan could more easily be heard by the occupants.
The Escalade Hybrid retains the qualities that have made it the leading large luxury SUV and a standard-bearer of Cadillac's overall product renaissance. It is instantly identifiable as a Cadillac and incorporates styling cues from the landmark Sixteen concept vehicle, including a detailed signature grille, front fender vent ports and layers of chrome accents.
The Escalade's warm and inviting interior features a premium layout. It is available in two colors, Ebony and Cashmere. Standard features include a distinctive instrument panel; gauges with white needles and blue light inlays with continuously lit, white-LED backlighting; Nuance leather-covered seats; leather-covered door trim and center console; and a power-assisted rear liftgate that opens and closes with the touch of a button.