2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
On the whole, reviewers are pleased with the 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid's performance, noting it closely matches that of the conventional Escalade. That means that the hybrid shares some problems with the regular Escalade. Namely, its larger size requires extra driver attention. Reviewers also notice that the transition from the electric motor to the gas engine isn't quite seamless, and that the Escalade Hybrid's gas mileage, while good for a large SUV, isn't quite in the same league as smaller hybrids.
- "This hybrid can get 20 miles per gallon in city driving; that's 8 miles more than the gas-only Escalade and more than a 50 percent increase in fuel efficiency. Here's another way to look at it: the big engine on the Escalade sips fuel around town better than the V-6 midsize sedans built by Honda, Nissan and Toyota -- oh, and GM, Ford and Chrysler too." -- Detroit News
- "Therein lies the dilemma of this truck: its mileage is great compared with a regular Escalade's, but that's like saying the American economy is great compared with Zimbabwe's." -- New York Times
- "Compared to most early and smaller hybrids, the Escalade sacrifices very little. Its total power is 369 horsepower and 380 pounds-feet of torque, compared to the regular model's 403 hp and 417 pounds-feet, and its payload is down only 241 pounds, to 1,369 pounds." -- Cars.com
- "When you are driving at low speeds through the parking lot at Barney's, 'mode one' allows the Escalade to operate on battery alone with the engine shut off (releasing zero emissions). When you are towing your Chris-Craft to the lake house, ‘mode two' allows for a combination of battery and engine at the same time, which achieves greater fuel efficiency than if the engine was running unassisted. " -- Autobytel
Acceleration and Power
Reviewers report that the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid has good acceleration and power. The Escalade Hybrid's electric motor is paired with a six-liter V8 engine that makes 322 horsepower. Some reviewers do complain that the four-speed transmission on the Escalade Hybrid sacrifices some fuel efficiency for increased power.
- "Acceleration is quick and smooth. When you need power, such as merging onto the highway, it's there. When you don't need it, such as stop-and-go rush hour, the Escalade hides it." -- Detroit News
- "We found it possible to drive to about twenty miles per hour, which meant after turning off the ‘main road' onto the neighborhood streets to our home was always done on battery power alone, which means that drivers must be extra alert. The Escalade can sneak up on unsuspecting pedestrians like an orca on a baby seal." -- Dallas Examiner
- "In a mini test drive, the SUV does move seamlessly from electric mode to blended to gasoline-engine only, and it often requires the graphics to know the current state of propulsion" -- Car and Driver
- "You can coax the Escalade Hybrid into electric-only mode, same as a Prius, but if you need to accelerate at all, or go up the slightest hill, or go faster than 30 miles an hour, you awaken the 332-horsepower V-8 under the hood." -- New York Times
- "Though it has less power than the regular Escalade, it's certainly not lacking for oomph. Occasionally you hear a little whirring, but it's nowhere near as intrusive as the same sound is on the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen hybrids that use the same system." -- Cars.com
While the Escalade Hybrid does have improved fuel economy over the conventional Escalade, reviewers report that the SUV still drinks too much gas to satisfy most environmentalists. Some also complain that in order to achieve the best fuel economy, drivers must relegate themselves to the slow lane. The two-wheel drive Escalade hybrid has a 20/21 city/highway fuel economy rating from the EPA, and a 20 mpg combined rating. The four-wheel drive Escalade Hybrid is too heavy to be rated by the EPA.
- "[Y]ou feel like you have to baby it to get greatly improved fuel economy, and even at that we only got 16.6 mpg in our short stint." -- Car and Driver
- "Bizarrely, the Environmental Protection Agency does not provide mileage estimates for the four-wheel-drive Escalade Hybrid because its weight vaults it into the category of heavy-duty trucks, which need not be rated. This is like McDonald's adding a low-fat burger that has no calorie count because the F.D.A. says it's too big to be classified as food." -- New York Times
- "The two-wheel-drive model's 20-mpg combined fuel-economy rating may be 5 miles per gallon better than the regular Escalade's, but it's still tied for the worst mileage of any hybrid vehicle rated by the Environmental Protection Agency." -- Wall Street Journal
- "What you save in petroleum, however, those behind lose in patience as you tiptoe down the road. Everyone, it seems, wants to conserve fuel, except those following." -- Chicago Tribune
- "Isn't it better that they get an EPA-estimated 20/21 mpg city/highway rather than the 12/19 mpg that comes with the non-hybrid - with the added bonus that it costs more and stimulates the economy a bit?" -- Cars.com
- "Say what you will about the notion of a hybrid Escalade, it's difficult to argue with the significance of its fuel economy improvement figures. For reference, a 2008 Toyota Camry with a V6 engine (and roughly 2,400 lbs. less mass than the Escalade Hybrid) gets an EPA rating of 19 mpg in the city." -- Autobytel
Handling and Braking
The majority of reviewers are pleased with the Escalade Hybrid's handling capabilities, though a few note that the Escalade's large size demands extra driver attention.
- "Though this is a large vehicle, Escalades are stable and confident in low-to-moderate speed changes of direction. .... Our testers are divided on the steering feel; some laud its feel and response, but others say it's vague and overassisted. Strong brakes have reassuringly firm pedal feel, but fast stops trigger lots of nosedive." -- Consumer Guide
- "In narrow lanes, the big truck is unwieldy at best, but the steering responds well enough to keep it in its lane." -- CNET
- "With a firm grip on the wheel and an eye for the next curve ahead, the Escalade performed far better than I expected."-- NADA Guides
- "Placing the Escalade in its lane becomes easier with practice, but the first minutes of anxiety can be really long if they're in traffic. Pulling into parking spaces never stopped be intimidating as docking a Great Lakes iron ore boat in your bathtub." -- Dallas Examiner
- "The regular Escalade handles smoothly and confidently for a vehicle of its size, and even with the extra weight, the Escalade Hybrid is no different here." -- Autobytel
- "Combined ABS and regenerative braking system do a terrific job of hauling the beast down from speed - we almost put a seatbeltless friend through the windshield (his own damn fault) when someone cut us off." -- Wired
- "Its braking feels natural." -- Cars.com