In a world where driving a big gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicle has suddenly become uncool, the 2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid offers its owners a way to show the world just how environmentally friendly they really are. But is driving this green-tinged version of Cadillac's wildly popular yet politically incorrect land yacht really a wise and responsible choice? Well, the answer depends on what you're comparing it to.
To be sure, the Escalade Hybrid does manage to post better fuel economy numbers than its conventionally powered Cadillac SUV siblings. Its two-mode hybrid powertrain, which it shares with its Chevrolet and GMC cousins, combines a beefy V8 engine with two electric motors that can actually propel this gussied-up truck at slow speeds in all-electric mode. The system also incorporates several other fuel-saving bells and whistles to deliver surprisingly decent fuel economy, at least by full-size SUV standards.
While that upside may sound appealing, it comes at a cost. Buyers will have to get used to the powertrain's myriad quirks, from a range of odd noises to a surging feeling when you step on the brake pedal. If your primary reason for buying a full-size SUV is to tow a large trailer, you should also be aware that the hybrid version's towing capacity is 2,500 pounds less than that of the regular Escalade. Finally, there's a literal price to be paid for assuaging your guilt about driving such a supersized luxury vehicle, as this hybrid's MSRP is roughly $5,000 above that of the comparably equipped standard Escalade.
All of which leads us to encourage shoppers to take a hard look at all their options before they sign on the dotted line. The midsize Lexus RX 450h crossover is less roomy and capable, but it does provide significantly better fuel economy. The diesel-powered Audi Q7 TDI drives more like a normal vehicle, has comparable fuel economy numbers and greater towing capacity. The related and similar Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and GMC Yukon Hybrid, meanwhile, can be had for thousands less than the big Caddy. If you still have your heart set on the 2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, know that it will provide a luxurious hybrid experience. Just remember that a clear conscience doesn't come cheap.