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Dec 102008

By Clint Williams
Green Right Now

Heated and cooled leather seats? Of course.

Touch-screen navigation system? Natch.

Killer Bose sound system? Satellite radio? Blind spot alert?

Check, check and check.

The 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid offers all this and another luxury: a clear conscience.

Slideshow: View the Escalade Hybrid

Well, clearer maybe. Even with its state-of-the-current-art two-mode gasoline-electric hybrid system, the Escalade Hybrid is still pretty thirsty, getting about 20 mpg in a mix of city and highway driving. That’s about half the mpg of a Honda Civic Hybrid or a Toyota Prius.

But the Civic and the Prius can’t haul six or seven people or tow a horse trailer. So, the Escalade Hybrid fills a niche and offers a more fuel-efficient alternative to the traditional big honking SUV.

The Escalade Hybrid – billed by Cadillac as the world’s first large luxury SUV hybrid – delivers a 50-percent fuel economy improvement in city driving.  The EPA estimated mpg of the old-fashioned V-8 powered Escalade is just 12 city and 19 highway. The hybrid gets 20 mpg city.

And it still has a big 403-horsepower, 6-liter V-8 mated with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The big SUV can travel up to 25 mph on electric power alone – if you have a feather touch on the gas pedal. A good habit to develop no matter what you’re driving.

The two-mode hybrid system consists of an electrically variable transmission and 300-volt nickel-metal hydride battery than works with the V-8. The hybrid system allows the V-8 to operate in its more economical four-cylinder mode for longer periods.

The cabin is well appointed and filled with gadgets. It’s a Cadillac, after all. One cool gizmo is a side mirror blind zone alert system that lights an icon in the side mirrors when a closing vehicle is in the blind spot. Handy feature to have in heavy traffic.

A rearview camera system also boosts visibility when backing.

All this technology doesn’t come cheaply – alas. The sticker price on the test car was $72,780.

Copyright © 2008 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media

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