Short Take Road Test: 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2011.
By Mark Gillies of Car and Driver
A TV ad claims the Cadillac Escalade hybrid gets better EPA city mileage than a Mini Cooper, at 20 mpg versus 19. It's true, but the Mini in question is a previous-generation supercharged 2008 Cooper S convertible with an automatic transmission, by far the thirstiest Mini available.
Still, it is impressive that the 6020-pound Escalade with GM's two-mode hybrid system improves the EPA city-mileage rating 67 percent over that of a regular Slade, which has a woeful 12-mpg city rating. But on the highway, the improvement is merely 2 mpg, from 19 to 21. In the real world, we returned 18 mpg in this rear-drive hybrid versus a range of 11 to 15 mpg for the three all-wheel-drive nonhybrid Slades we have tested.
But the hybrid has a couple of problems. First, the price difference between a hybrid Slade and a base model is a whopping $10,930, which works out to be about $5000 more than a comparably equipped model. Assuming current gas prices and averaging 12,000 miles annually, it would take about five years to get a payback over our gas-guzzling, all-wheel-drive long-term vehicle.
More worrying, the hybrid responds as sluggishly as a teenage boy who's told to clean up his room. The hybrid's 6.0-liter V-8 makes 332 horsepower, 71 less than the regular Slade's 6.2-liter V-8, and even without all-wheel drive, it weighs 344 pounds more than our long-term Escalade did. That vehicle, aided by four-wheel traction, true, sprinted from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds when initially tested. The standing quarter took 15.2 seconds at 94 mph, with a top speed of 107 mph. The hybrid needed 8.4 seconds to reach 60 mph, took 16.5 seconds in the quarter-mile (at 86 mph), and topped out at 99 mph. Although passing-acceleration numbers are reasonably close to those of the regular vehicle, the hybrid doesn't feel as willing in daily driving.
It is just as luxurious and imposing as the regular Slade, but we're not sure to whom this hybrid appeals: Its main virtue is better city mileage, but we have a suspicion that Escalade-driving urban warriors probably don't care too much about the cost of gas.