What's New – Cadillac debuts a hybrid version of its Escalade based on its two-mode hybrid system. This is the first hybrid in the full-size luxury suv market and it makes significant fuel-economy gains over the base Escalade.
What We Think – Once one gets past the slightly strange notion of a Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, the numbers start to make sense and the experience compromises little of what one has come to expect from a regular Escalade.
Cadillac Escalade Hybrid – 2009 First Drive: As we were shooting video footage on the 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid for this review, a woman in a regular Escalade rolled down her window and asked me, "What is that?" She had a large yellow diamond, surrounded by other large diamonds, sitting on her finger. She had a Blackberry in her hand and Chanel sunglasses resting on her nose. Given that this was Beverly Hills, I had little doubt that her display of wealth was legit. After letting her know it was a hybrid Escalade, she said "I need to get rid of my Escalade as soon as possible, it uses so much gas; when can I buy that hybrid version?" Whether she wanted to spend less on fuel because money was tight (I kind of doubt it) or she just wanted to exhibit a less fuel-hungry lifestyle (it was L.A.), this woman was providing anecdotal evidence to something Cadillac has been saying since they first revealed their Escalade Hybrid: There are consumers out there that want better fuel economy without having to compromise on utility and luxury. With an Escalade that gets an estimated 50-percent better gas mileage in the city over the one belonging to our Chanel-wearing friend, Cadillac just might have what it takes to reach these consumers.