2012 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
Test drivers say the Escalade Hybrid’s driving dynamics are just fine, and they love its big bump in fuel economy over the base model. They have some issues with its soft-feeling brakes, and say it doesn’t handle quite as well as the conventional model, but these flaws are acceptable since even the standard Escalade doesn’t claim to be a driver’s car. It’s smooth, quiet and capable, and that’s what matters most in a luxury full-size SUV.
- "You'll have to get used to the powertrain's mildly eccentric manners, as the transmission responds a bit lazily under full power and the brake pedal delivers a surging sensation." -- Edmunds
Acceleration and Power
The Escalade Hybrid’s gas/electric 6.0-liter V8 gets 332 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque, which is significantly less than the gas-only Escalade’s 403 ponies and 417 pound-feet of torque. Reviewers don’t mind, though. They say that it still has plenty of power and good acceleration when zooming away from a red light or onto a freeway, at least for a huge hybrid vehicle. The Escalade Hybrid can tow up to 5,800 pounds in rear-wheel drive models and 5,600 in four-wheel drive models. That’s not bad for a hybrid, considering the additional weight of the heavy batteries.
Shoppers should also keep in mind that although the Escalade Hybrid’s fuel economy is good for a full-size SUV, it’s the only available luxury full-size hybrid SUV, so it doesn’t even compare with most other hybrids. If you’re looking for truly impressive fuel economy, you’ll need to downsize to another luxury hybrid SUV like the Lexus RX Hybrid. All trims of the Escalade Hybrid net 20/23 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA, compared with the four-wheel drive, gas-only Escalade’s EPA rating of 13/18 mpg city/highway.
- "The 6-liter engine and electric motor produce absolutely silky smooth acceleration. At low speed, the electric motor alone can propel the Escalade hybrid, using no gasoline whatsoever, which is quite a feat considering this SUV can weigh as much as three tons.” -- The Detroit News
- "There's no question that the hybrid saves gasoline compared to a standard Escalade, but as with every hybrid, the added cost of purchase for the hybrid means that you feel the benefit in your heart, not your pocketbook." -- Edmunds
- "Hybrid accelerates from a stop and passes much like conventional models. The hybrid system suffers from subtle surging in low-speed cruising conditions, but it's not overly detrimental. In liberal throttle applications, the transmission suffers from a lengthy delay before delivering full power.” -- Consumer Guide
Handling and Braking
The Cadillac Escalade Hybrid comes standard with rear-wheel drive but is available with four-wheel drive on both trims. Overall, reviewers say that the Escalade Hybrid’s handling is fairly smooth, but comes with significant body roll in turns and nose dive upon hard braking. Writers’ most common complaints have to do with the regenerative brakes, which work effectively but feel mushy and are difficult to get used to. Since the Escalade Hybrid made its debut in 2009, most automakers have improved the feel of their hybrids’ regenerative brakes, making the Escalade Hybrid’s feel subpar.
- "The ride is slightly truck like. But only slightly. You will know when a big pothole is encountered, but it's not a harsh event.” -- HybridCars.com
- "No matter which version you pick, the Escalade's ride is plush and somewhat bouncy -- shades of Cadillac land yachts of yore -- thanks to the Escalade's pickup platform and body-on-frame design.” -- Automobile Magazine
- “Our testers are divided on the steering; some laud its feel and response, but others say it's vague and over assisted. Strong brakes have reassuringly firm pedal feel, even on the Hybrid, but fast stops trigger lots of nosedive.” -- Consumer Guide
- "The brakes have a mushy feel.” -- Car and Driver
- “The regenerative braking system takes some getting used to, however, as it gives surging feedback through the pedal as you attempt to come to a smooth stop.” -- Edmunds