Assuming that GM is able to survive the latest financial meltdown, their future success in selling larger, expensive vehicles will be dependent upon implementation of Hybrid and EV technologies. At one extreme of that spectrum is the behemoth 6,000 pound-plus 2009 Cadillac Escalade, which as it is currently engineered appears to be destined for a very short life of just one year. While this particular Hybrid’s extinction is surely an indication of GM’s money issues, it is also an admission by the automaker that despite marketing to the contrary, the 2009 Escalade Hybrid simply is not fuel efficient enough.
Since money is first on everyone’s mind, it should be noted that the Hybrid version of the Escalade costs roughly $11,000 more than the non-hybrid. The rear-wheel-drive Escalade Hybrid lists for $71,915, and the base non-hybrid goes for a mere $60,985. Yes, there are surely people who could as easily pay $72,000 as $61,000 for a car, but why would they? How much fuel savings would offset that kind of premium? Most likely it would have to be more than the measely 2 mpg that the hybrid achieves over the standard SUV. In city driving the difference is more significant, 7 mpg, but not so much to reasonably offset the initial cost. The 2-mode Hybrid system is copied from the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, which starts at $53,295, and uses two motors and generators in the transmission to boost acceleration and recharge the battery when coasting and braking. Total power for the Hybrid is 369 horsepower and 380 pounds-feet of torque, compared with the regular model’s 403 horsepower and 417 pounds-feet. Towing capacity is likewise reduced to 5,800 pounds versus 7,900 pounds, which is still plenty for most people’s purposes. In more ways than not, with the exception of this drivetrain, the Escalade Hybrid is pretty much the same as the non-hybrid version. The Hybrid does increase seating to eight by losing the second row captain chairs for a bench which covers the hybrid batteries and utilizes lightweight materials in the seats, wheels and suspension, as well as aluminum in the hood and liftgate to shed a few pounds. Other features present in the standard model including 22-inch chrome wheels, Magnetic Ride Control, GPS navigation, a backup camera, a video entertainment system, 14-way-adjustable heated and cooled power leather seats, and power actuation for the pedals, side mirrors, liftgate and running boards are all still available in the Hybrid.
For those that have their heart set on an Escalade, beyond sticker price, the Hybrid does not sacrifice much if anything from the normal gas burner. Otherwise, other large eight-passenger Hybrid vehicles that deserve consideration including the Chevy Tahoe, Dodge Durango, Chrysler Aspen or even Toyota Highlander make better sense.