Ingenious, but hard not to see it as an alcoholic brandishing a water bottle, claiming reformation

What is it?

A hybrid version of Cadillac’s biggest beast, the very enormous Escalade. The idea of a hybridised attempt on fuel-saving seems absurd with a giant like this, but the principle is no different from Porsche’s equally contradictory bi-motor Cayenne – and GM got there first.

This is the General’s two-mode hybrid, which mostly operates as a CVT but also has four fixed gears that are used when the Caddy’s a-haulin’. GM claims a 20 per cent improvement in fuel consumption over a standard Escalade – quite a saving given its thirst – but the £6300-odd price difference will mean clocking many miles before savings are made.

Still, given the Escalade’s 2.7 tonnes, it’s easy to see the sense of harnessing its kinetic energy when coasting and braking. The electricity generated is stored in a 300-volt battery stored under the middle row of seats – the Escalade swallows it almost unnoticed – which propels it at low speeds. The Atkinson cycle 332bhp 6.0-litre V8 has auto-stop-start, and can also operate on four cylinders to save fuel.

What’s it like?

Inevitably truck-like, in both low-speed manoeuvring and cornering, though for a vehicle almost as big as a house it gets around bends with less drama than you’d expected. But, this is a tall, ponderous-looking vehicle, and that’s how it feels on the road.

More disappointing than this is the near-ceaseless vibro-massage accorded to your lower legs, presumably the consequence of riding on 22in wheels with 45-section tyres.

Also impossible to ignore are the curious hums and whirrs of the multiple electric motors that not only propel the Cadillac but power the compressor, the brake pump and more, these especially evident when the V8 is switched off.

But the worst refinement issue flaws the brakes, whose transitions between regenerative and hydraulic retardation make it near impossible to bring the Escalade to a smooth stop.

Yet for all its crudities, there’s something fascinating about the way this complex beast goes about its business, and there’s no question that you get a great view out from a vehicle this vast.

Should I buy one?

If you want an Escalade it’s probably only an Escalade that will do, in which case your choice is whether to buy hybrid or not. A part-electric drivetrain certainly makes it more defensible, though many may judge its plentiful ‘hybrid’ badging at best ludicrous, at worst offensive. Plus, the Escalade feels like the gussied up, workaday Chevrolet Tahoe that it is, with an interior finish vastly adrift of any premium SUV’s.

It’s ingenious, but it’s hard not to see the Escalade as an alcoholic brandishing a water bottle and claiming reformation – you can see clear liquid in there, but is it really H2O?

Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Sport Luxury

Price as tested £73,959; 0-62mph 8.4sec; Top speed 106mph; Kerb weight: 2729kg: Combined economy: 25.5mpg; CO2: 264g/km; Powertrain: V8, petrol, 5967cc, plus electric motor; Power: 332bhp at 5100rpm; Torque: 367lb ft at 4100rpm


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thebaldgit 26 October 2010

Re: Cadillac Escalade hybrid

The definitive face of the worst of the US suv now that they have abandoned the abortion that was the Hummer. Wilfully ugly, grossly over weight a real in your face car, ideal for those who like confrontation and especially if they are in the chemical trade. Although I can imagine these people will give a stuff whether it is a hybrid or not.

michael knight 26 October 2010

Re: Cadillac Escalade hybrid

Flawed execution maybe...but at least they're trying!

fhp11 26 October 2010

Re: Cadillac Escalade hybrid

KArkhon wrote:
Seriously, who buys these things? You can get any European/Japanese luxury SUV for that money, and even the worst one is light years ahead of this.

Gosh it must have taken you a while to test all of them to come up with such a damning verdict. Even then your logic is pretty flawed. How many competitors are there to this?

You want a Luxury Full size SUV with 7 seats...

Range Rover? Only 5 seats

Toyota Land Cruiser? Not really a luxury image, looks boring as sin, and only diesel availible.

I guess the only real competitor would be a Discovery. But even then, this doesnt have a hybrid option. only a much thirsyer petrol engine if you didnt want the diesel. Plus the Escalade is sizably larger than a disco.

I've had a look inside an escalade and its pretty nice, I've never driven one, and Ive no doubt it wouldnt be as dynamically sharp as some others, especially as its based on a truck chassis. But they are comfortable, and if you just want a relaxed drive, I'm sure it does the job just fine. That said, I do think its a bit too expensive. Id have a hard time justifying 70-80K for one.