The Escalade Hybrid is touted by GM as being the world’s first hybrid powered large luxury SUV. Inside and out, it looks like the same classy SUV that’s been a phenomenal success for Cadillac. But changes under the hood bump the EPA mileage ratings from 12/19 (city/highway) to 20/21. Not a lot, but it’s a step in the right direction. The official fleet vehicle of the NFL, NBA, and hip-hop stars, it’s about time the Escalade jumped on the “green” wagon.

The Escalade is powered by a Vortex 6000, 6.0-liter V8 SFI with GM two-mode hybrid system. Linked to a Hydra-Matic 6L80 (sixspeed automatic with driver shift control), the hybrid offers drivers 332 hp and 367 lb-ft of torque at 5,100 rpm, enough to give the weighty 5,727-lb vehicle some serious scoot power.

The hybrid system consists of two 80-hp ac motors, three planetary gear sets, four multiplate clutches, and two hydraulic oil pumps. The four fixed-gear ratios in the multiplanetary gearset come into play only when drivers select manual mode for holding a ratio when negotiating hills or towing loads. The hybrid has ondemand 4WD and its locking differential is rated for towing up to 5,600 lb.

For the most part, the ride is comfortable, but not quite to Cadillac’s usual standard of luxury. This is due to the 22-in. chromed aluminum wheels with short 45- Series sidewalls. On smooth roadways, you feel like you’re riding in a luxury car. But once you hit a pothole- laden and patched road (very common here during and after a Cleveland winter), you feel the bumps, just not as pronounced as when you ride in a car.

On the inside you’ll find a spacious cabin and many amenities, most of which are standard. Some of the more notable include a heated washer-fluid system that’s nice for Cleveland winters, remote start, HID headlamps, Bluetooth for phone, power-adjustable pedals, Rainsense wipers. and a side blind-zone alert. The blind-zone feature is actually pretty cool once you get the hang of it. The zone covers approximately one lane on each side of the vehicle and back approximately 16 ft. When the system detects a vehicle in the zone, amber displays in each of the sideview mirrors light up. If you put your signal on to change lanes, the display begins flashing to alert you to the car’s presence. The system is designed to ignore stationary objects.

Standard vehicle price is $73,285 plus a $950 destination fee. With a price tag of $74,235, you, too, can drive around like a celebrity.

— Denise Greco

Going head-to-head
Cadillac EscaladeCharacteristicsLincoln Navigator
79
Width (in.)
78.8
74.3
Height (in.)
78.3
116
Wheelbase (in.)
119
202.5
Length (in.)
208.4
Vortec 6000, six-liter V8 with GM Two mode Hybrid System, 332 hp, 367 lb-ft torque
Base engine
5.4-liter SOHC three-valve V8 FFV, 310 hp, 365 lb-ft torque
Hydra-Matic 6L80 – six-speed auto w/driver shift control
Base transmission
Six-speed automatic with tow/haul mode