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The relatively short-lived Cadillac Escalade Hybrid was meant to bring some green-tinted credentials to the full-size SUV segment. The secret was the vehicle's hybrid technology that helped this big SUV get around 20 mpg in city driving. As with its related siblings, the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and GMC Yukon Hybrid, the Escalade Hybrid had a 6.0-liter V8 coupled to a pair of 60-kilowatt motors packaged within the transmission.
As expected, the Cadillac version is much more luxurious than the Chevy or GMC versions, with a higher-quality interior and nearly every pampering feature as standard. However, none of these SUVs really make much sense except maybe to someone 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. As such, most people would be better off with a more efficient diesel-powered SUV or a hybrid that's based on a more modern and more efficient crossover SUV.
Used Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Models
The Cadillac Escalade Hybrid was produced from 2009 through 2013. The eight-passenger, full-size SUV changed very little through the years. However, for its first year it lacked E85 (Ethanol blend) fuel capability and a USB audio connection. More importantly, it achieved slightly lower fuel economy because of a different rear axle ratio.
Other than that first year (when it was offered in a single trim level), the Escalade Hybrid came in a choice of two well-equipped trim levels -- base and ultra-plush Platinum Edition -- and with either rear- or four-wheel drive. All were propelled by a two-mode hybrid powertrain that consisted of a 6.0-liter V8 engine joined to a pair of 60-kilowatt electric motors. Combined output with the electric motors was 379 horsepower.
At speeds of up to about 25 mph, this full-size SUV could be powered solely by its electric motors, after which the gasoline engine came into play. At higher speeds (and depending on driving conditions), a cylinder-deactivation system could shut down up to half the V8's cylinders. First year versions with rear-wheel drive were rated at 20 mpg combined, while all the following years earned a 21 mpg combined rating. The 4WD version is only slightly less frugal.
Standard equipment highlights included 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. The Platinum Edition added power-retractable running boards, LED headlights, special leather upholstery and an upgraded rear-seat entertainment system.
In reviews, our editors lauded the standard 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, the 50/50-split third-row seat is a hassle to configure to cargo hauling duty, as it 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. Even in the used car market, 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.