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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
Properly equipped, a rear-wheel-drive Escalade Hybrid can tow 5,800 pounds
For such a massive vehicle, it accelerates hard
Stable and confident in low-to-moderate speed changes of direction
The 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid offers tremendous fuel economy benefits—as one would hope—but it manages to keep a lot of the conventional Escalade's utility.
Under the hood of the 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, "a stout 6.0-liter V-8 provides the Escalade Hybrid's gasoline power," states Edmunds, while "the electric portion of the powertrain is comprised of two 60-kilowatt motors." Although many view the Cadillac Escalade as more of a status symbol, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate that the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid can hold its own when it comes to more workmanlike tasks, such as towing. J.D. Power reports that the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid "will be rated to tow up to 6000 pounds with 2WD and 5700 pounds with 4WD," although the conventional Escalade can haul trailers weighing up to 7,700 pounds. Automobile Magazine notes that the Hybrid Escalade puts out "332 horsepower and 367 lb-ft of torque," and while both those numbers are below the power ratings of a conventional Escalade, reviewers are still impressed by the Hybrid Escalade's acceleration. Automobile Magazine says that, "for such a massive vehicle, it accelerates hard," posting "mid-eight second 0-60 mph times," while Cars.com remarks that the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid is "certainly not lacking for oomph." The two-mode hybrid system means that "the electric motors can propel the Escalade up to 30 mph," according to J.D. Power.
The secret to the success of the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid is its wholly unconventional transmission, which is a product of GM's experience building hybrid city buses. Edmunds reviewers explain that this system "functions as a continuously variable transmission in light load conditions and as a fixed-ratio system (with four forward gear ratios) when loads get heavier." While this system provides for excellent fuel economy, Automobile Magazine points out that it suffers from a traditional CVT drawback where the engine "revs to a particular RPM and hangs there while the vehicle's speed seems to play catch-up." Overall, however, reviewers are impressed with the system, which J.D. Power says "will be available with rear- or 4-wheel drive."
Those used to driving a conventional Cadillac Escalade will quickly attest to the fact that the vehicle needs frequent fill-ups, resulting in Cadillac-appropriate gas bills. Fortunately, the new hybrid system in the 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid boosts city fuel economy by more than 50 percent, with an EPA-estimated 20 mpg city and 21 mpg highway rating. In their testing, ConsumerGuide reports that "an AWD Hybrid averaged an outstanding-for-the-class 20.0 mpg."
In addition to stellar fuel economy, the 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid handles as well as anyone could expect for a vehicle of its size. This luxurious Caddy boasts "a comfortable ride," according to Edmunds, while MyRide.com raves that it "handles smoothly and confidently for a vehicle of its size." ConsumerGuide reviewers point out that the 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid is "stable and confident in low-to-moderate speed changes of direction," while the "strong brakes have [a] reassuringly firm pedal feel."
If you've always wanted an Escalade but couldn't stomach the gas bills, you might want to consider a 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid.