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2011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid | Toronto Sun

2011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Review

2011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

The eco-friendlier face of Cadillac

The 2011 Cadillac Escalade is in a class by itself – not just for price, but for prestige.

Just 10 years ago, who would have believed a full-size, truck-based SUV would become the flagship of GM’s luxury brand? But Escalade has become the face of Cadillac in the 21st Century.

Even in these times of rising fuel prices and concerns over climate change the Escalade has motored right along into the hearts (and garages) of the rich, famous, or merely wealthy.

And since model year 2009 there’s been a hybrid version to calm the consciences of those wannabe Escalade owners who, even if they don’t feel the urge to be green, need to be seen as being green.

No need to mention it still requires twice as much fuel as, say, a Toyota Prius. Just quote them Transport Canada’s fuel efficiency numbers. Except those numbers are wildly optimistic: 10.4 L/100km city and 8.5 highway. The best I’ve been able to do is 11.8 combined – and that was driving with economy in mind. Driven normally, the hybrid delivers a consistent 12.2 L/100km in combined highway-city driving.

So best keep that quiet. Proud owners might want to mention, however, that it costs $10,000 above and beyond the gas-only model to go green.

Hybrid owners won’t give up much in terms of power. While the 6.2-litre V8 of the gasoline model produces 403 hp and 417 lb.-ft. of torque, the hybrid’s 6.0 V8 and electric propulsion system generates 332 hp and 367 lb.-ft. Acceleration doesn’t suffer too much (0-100 km/h in 8.2 seconds), but trailering capacity drops from 1,575 kg to 1,373 with the hybrid.

Driving this Escalade is much like operating any other hybrid automobile. The V8 cuts off when the vehicle is stopped. In fact, it can be driven very slowly purely on electric power. And a bonus is that on flat roads, or when going downhill at urban speeds, the engine will shift into V4 mode.

If you want to be seen, this is vehicle to do it in, because no one will miss your comings and goings. In fact, I find people straining to see who’s behind the wheel of our test vehicle. Is it some rock star? A pro athlete? They seem disappointed when it’s just an older dude in a ball cap.

Everything about this vehicle screams luxury. Indeed, it’s far quicker to say what this vehicle lacks, rather than what it has, in the way of standard equipment. Adaptive cruise control is unavailable, as is keyless entry/ignition. That’s about it. The only options on our test Escalade are an engine block heater (unnecessary except in the coldest cities) and a second row entertainment system (necessary, because today’s kids get bored looking out the window).

All Escalades come with a standard third row of seating which, as a friend points out, doesn’t even leave room for a case of beer. To get a flat cargo floor, the rear seats must be removed. That’s probably a good idea because access to them is very tight. You have to flip the right middle seat forward and scramble in that way, making the third row suitable only for small, skinny children.

The surprising thing is how well Escalade handles. It may not drive like a sports car, but it certainly will outperform any other full-size SUV. Aided by electronic stability control and proactive roll avoidance, plus 22-inch wheels and tires, the suspension allows for sporty handling. The body lean you’d expect when cornering hard in a vehicle this tall simply isn’t there.

And Escalade is a true 4×4. The driver can dial in 2WD, 4WD high and 4WD low.

Cadillac may no longer be “the standard of the world,” but Escalade sure can say it’s the standard of the SUV world. The hybrid model is just icing on the cake.

Read article: http://torontosun.autonet.ca/autos/search/testdrives/2011/04/15/18007661-autonet.html