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2011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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2011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

2011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid.

Photo © General Motors

The Bottom Line

The biggest, baddest luxury SUV on the planet still rolls on 22s, and can even lay claim as the most fuel-efficient way to transport eight passengers in luxury. The 2011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid boasts EPA fuel-economy estimates of 20 mpg city/23 mpg highway (on regular gas, even), and a sophisticated two-mode hybrid powerplant that is capable of swift, quiet efficiency. As the only luxury full-size hybrid SUV, it must count its competition among the gas-only crowd, including the Infiniti QX56, Land Rover LR4, Lexus LX570 and Lincoln Navigator.
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Pros

  • Great fuel economy for a full-size SUV.
  • Elegant furnishings.
  • Lively performance.

Cons

  • Shocking price tag.
  • Skimpy storage behind third row.
  • Heavy, removeable third row seats.

Description

  • Base prices from $74,135 to $88,140
  • Engine: 6.0-liter V8 (gas) and 300 volt electric motor
  • Horsepower: 332 @ 5,100 rpm (gas)
  • Torque: 367 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm (gas)
  • Transmission: two-mode continuous electric ratio hybrid transmission with four fixed gears and rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 20 mpg city/23 mpg highway
  • Wheelbase: 116.0” Vehicle Length: 202.5” Width: 79.0” Height: 75.9”
  • Curb Weight: 5,879 - 6,120 lbs
  • Cargo: 108.9 cubic feet Luggage: 16.9 cubic feet
  • Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles basic; 5 years/100,000 miles powertrain

Guide Review - 2011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

The 2011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid saunters in with very few changes for the new model year, which is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that Escalade Hybrid's strengths remain, while the curse is that its shortcomings have not been addressed. Luckily, Escalade's strengths have always been more impressive than its shortcomings.

Among those strengths are confident, bold exterior styling, combined with superb fit and finish. Escalade has presence, and is one of the few SUVs that looks great on standard 22" wheels. My test vehicle was the full-zoot Platinum trim level (base price $88,140; $89,090 as tested), which arrived with pretty much every interior and exterior option already included. LED headlamps lend a very high-tech look to Escalade at night, and would be one of the options that I'd tick on the base Escalade Hybrid.

Inside the Platinum Hybrid, just the right level of luxury and elegance has been applied, including leather wrap instrument panel top pad and door uppers. Cadillac still insists on drowning its wood trim in pools of lacquer, but it still looks like there's some real wood underneath all the gloss. Second row passengers get a good level of pampering as well, especially in the seven-passenger Hybrid with center console in place of bench second row seat. Third row passengers will be content if they are kids or small adults, and there's actually room (and safety equipment) for three across seating.

Escalade Hybrid's big shortcoming is in the cargo hold. When the third row is in use, there are only 16.9 cubic feet of luggage space available -- hardly sufficient for seven or eight passengers. The third row does not fold flat or disappear beneath the load floor, as it does in many other SUVs. The third row can be removed in two halves, each of which weigh over 40 lbs. Apartment dwellers beware.

Driving the Hybrid reveals a big strength, as the V8 gas engine and electric motor work together to provide decent acceleration, and Escalade's excellent underpinnings deliver a quiet, cushy ride. Escalade is surprisingly fun to drive, with a great view of the road and a solid feel that breeds confidence. This is a great road trip vehicle that shines on the highway.

Price and storage will keep me from recommending the Escalade Hybrid. I would be much more likely to select the conventionally-powered Escalade ESV, which features a 130" wheelbase, 222.9" total length and 45.8 cubic feet of luggage space behind the third row. I would eschew the Platinum trim level, and start out with a more reasonable $66,080 base Escalade ESV and add the features I really wanted. I would also consider the competition, and make sure that I was really ready to invest heavily in the Hybrid. I would also check out the other GM hybrid SUVs (the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and GMC Yukon Hybrid) to see if the level of luxury was up to my standards, because each represents a significant savings for the same technology content.

When all is said and done, the Escalade Hybrid can make one indisputable claim: It is the Cadillac of hybrid SUVs.

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Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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