New Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Review

2012 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid 4dr SUV Exterior

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The Cadillac Escalade Hybrid is a luxury SUV that weighs nearly 6,000 pounds, yet it racks up fuel economy numbers in the neighborhood of 20 mpg in city driving. The secret is the vehicle's "two-mode" hybrid technology. As with its related siblings, the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and GMC Yukon Hybrid, the Escalade Hybrid has a 6.0-liter V8 that's coupled to a pair of 60-kilowatt motors packaged within the transmission.

Being a Cadillac, the Hybrid version is much more luxurious than the Chevy or GMC versions, with a higher-quality interior and nearly every feature as standard. However, none of these SUVs really make much sense. Maybe if you're a person who needs to occasionally carry seven people and/or tow a boat while wishing for 20-plus mpg fuel economy and a luxurious interior. That seems like a rare demographic, especially when you consider the Escalade Hybrid's hefty price. Most people would be better off with a more efficient diesel-powered SUV or a hybrid that's based on a more modern, refined SUV.

Current Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
The Cadillac Escalade Hybrid is offered in a choice of two well-equipped trim levels -- base and ultra-plush Platinum Edition -- and with either rear- or four-wheel drive. It's propelled by a two-mode hybrid powertrain that consists of a 6.0-liter V8 engine joined to a pair of 60-kilowatt electric motors. GM engineers say that combined output with the electric motors is 379 horsepower.

At speeds of up to about 25 mph, this full-size SUV can be powered solely by its electric motors. At higher speeds (and depending on driving conditions), a cylinder-deactivation system shuts down up to half the V8's cylinders. The rear-drive version achieves an impressive combined city/highway rating of 23 mpg, while the 4WD version is only slightly less frugal.

The Escalade Hybrid's lengthy standard equipment list includes 22-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, adaptive shock absorbers, leather upholstery, heated and cooled power-adjustable front seats with driver memory, tri-zone automatic climate control, a navigation system with real-time traffic, rear park assist with a rearview camera, a rear-seat entertainment system and a Bose surround-sound stereo system with a six-CD changer and satellite radio. On top of this, the Platinum Edition trim level adds power-retractable running boards, LED headlights, special leather upholstery and an upgraded rear-seat entertainment system.

Our editors have lauded the Escalade as one of the most luxurious and well-appointed full-size SUVs on the market, and the same goes for the eight-passenger Hybrid model. However, we've carped about the 50/50-split third-row seat, which doesn't fold flat and must be manually removed to free up the 109 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity.

Overall, though, the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid offers an opulent and library-quiet environment for its passengers. The hybrid powertrain delivers merely adequate power, but transitions between electric and gas power are impressively smooth. A cost-benefit analysis doesn't reflect well on the Escalade Hybrid. The regular Escalade is more powerful and significantly cheaper, while there are any number of luxury SUVs that get the same or at least similar fuel economy. True, they don't offer seven seats and the ability to tow a boat, so if that fits your buying criteria, maybe this pricey gasoline-electric Cadillac truck is worth a look.

Read the most recent 2013 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid review.

If you are looking for older years, visit our used Cadillac Escalade Hybrid page.


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