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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Feb 22, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz


The new 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid is the world's first fuel-saving hybrid applied to a large luxury SUV, delivering a 50 percent fuel economy improvement in city driving. It is powered by GM's innovative, fuel-saving two-mode hybrid system and offers the same dramatic design, interior luxury and full-size capability that has made the Escalade an icon. Once behind the wheel and on the road, this new model is terrific to drive. No other auto manufacturer can seat eight luxuriously while simultaneously carrying or trailering lots of cargo comfortably. Escalade Hybrid is available in 2WD or 4WD configurations. It delivers up to 5,800 pounds of usable towing capacity on 2WD models, and 5,600 pounds on 4WD models. Nearly all of Escalade's standard comfort and convenience features are included as standard equipment on the hybrid model and they include:

14-way power front seats with heated & cooled cushions and backrests, second row 60/40 split bench, third row seat that can easily be removed and stored, nuance leather seating surfaces, real dark wood trim pieces on the dashboard and doors, 10-speaker Bose Audio Surround Sound System with a six-CD/DVD changer, eight-inch touch-screen navigation system with traffic alert, and can display performance readouts of the two-mode hybrid system, rearview camera system, driver information center, XM Satellite radio with Nav Traffic Jam Alert, power tilt, leather/wood wrapped steering wheel with radio/cruise control buttons, rear audio/DVD player with seven-inch color screen, Bluetooth for phone, remote vehicle starter, dual map lamps, 3-12 volt power plugs/1-115 volt power plug, power adjustable pedals, HID headlamps, power fold/heated/curb view & signals sideview mirrors, rain sensing wipers/washers, heated washer fluid system, universal home remote, power windows with front express up/down, power door locks, thick-cut pile carpeting with floor mats, self-dimming rearview mirror, three-zone electronic climate controls, all-wheel traction control, stabiliTrak electronic stability control, magnetic ride control, automatic rear leveling control, rear locking differential and 22X9-inch chromed aluminum wheels wrapped with Bridgestone 285/45R22-inch performance all-season radial tires. Escalade Hybrid extends Cadillac's leadership in the large, luxury SUV category, particularly in the area of technology. The Escalade's two-mode hybrid system allows it to return exceptional fuel economy in both city and highway (20 mpg/highway, 21 mpg/city), while delivering the capabilities of a true luxury SUV. In city driving, this advanced hybrid power system enable Escalade to launch and drive low speed on electricity alone. As additional power is demanded, the system blends output from the battery and gas engine smoothly and seamlessly.

GM's patented two-mode hybrid system consists of an advanced electrically variable transmission (EVT) and 300-volt nickel-metal hydride Energy Storage System (ESS). These systems work in concert with the standard 6.0 liter V8 Gen IV gasoline engine with Active Fuel Management (AFM) and late-intake valve closing (LIVC) technology. AFM enables the V8 engine to seamlessly shut off half of its cylinders when less power is needed, such as driving during highway cruising. This new hybrid system not only enables the Escalade Hybrid to drive low speed on electricity alone, it also allows the 6.0 liter V8 engine to operate in its more economical four-cylinder mode for longer periods. The key to Escalade's two-mode hybrid system is that the electric power used to propel the vehicle is generated by the hybrid system itself. When the 4-wheel disc brakes are applied or the vehicle is coasting, the electric motors with the hybrid system create electricity that is stored in the 300-volt battery. This stored energy is used to move the vehicle and the regenerative braking cycle is renewed. The two-mode hybrid system provides seamless, dependable power on demand in an efficient package. In fact, its electric motor is less than half the size of those in single-mode hybrid systems. This technology was developed and is still used in fleets of hybrid transit buses on the streets today in dozens of major North American cities. Scaled-down for use in full-size SUVs, the two-mode system delivers fuel savings where it is needed most-in large vehicle with high levels of capability. It is a core part of GM's energy diversity efforts, which are centered on reducing dependence on petroleum, improving fuel economy, reducing emissions, and minimizing the automobile's impact on the environment. Providing power to the hybrid's electrically variable transmission's (EVT) two electric motors is a 300-volt nickel-metal hydride Energy Storage System (ESS). This battery pack is located under the second-row seat where it takes up virtually no additional space and does not interfere with second-or third-row entry or exit.

The primary function of the ESS is to provide power (300-volts) to the EVT and to store captured energy produced during regenerative braking. In addition to supplying power to the EVT, the ESS also provides power to the A/C compressor and the Accessory Power Module (APM), which converts the high-voltage supply to 42 volts for the electric power steering system, and 12 volts for the vehicle battery and other 12-volt electrical accessories. Battery pack durability and reliability are maintained via optimized charge and discharge cycles, as well as a dedicated cooling system that draws air from the passenger compartment. As part of the vehicle's emission control system, the ESS is warranted for eight years/100,000 miles. The Escalade Hybrid features fully blended regenerative braking to capture energy that would otherwise be lost during vehicle deceleration. By using one or both of the EVT's traction motors as a generator, braking energy is converted to electrical energy and stored in the ESS for future use to propel the vehicle. The regenerative brakes are used along with the standard hydraulic brakes to slow the vehicle and/or bring it to a stop. Depending on the amount of braking force required, the hydraulic brakes may not even used, such as during mild deceleration when slowing to allow space for merging traffic near a highway on-ramp. Regenerative braking has the additional benefit of extending the life of the friction materials used in the hydraulic braking system, as well as improving performance in the form of short stopping distance. You can really feel the added braking power when you push the pedal hard. Acoustic details specific to the Hybrid model ensures that it delivers the superior luxury that has been an Escalade hallmark since its inception. These include a new exhaust system and resonator specially tuned for the 6.0 liter LIVC engine's Active Fuel Management operation. It ensures comfortable interior acoustics and a pleasant exhaust note during both V4 and V8 operation. An electrically driven, 300-volt A/C compressor reduces vibration and allows the HVAC system to cool the passenger compartment even when the gasoline engine is shut off. An electrically driven 42-volt variable-assist power steering system reduces parasitic losses common in belt-driven hydraulic systems. The Energy Storage System cooling system's internal fan is tuned to be quiet at low vehicle speeds, when the fan could more easily be heard by the passengers. The Escalade Hybrid's 6.0 liter V8 engine is unique. It features Active Fuel Management and late intake valve closing (Atkinson-cycle combustion process) for reduced pumping losses and better overall fuel economy. It uses flat-top pistons, cylinder heads borrowed from GM's 5.3 liter high-output V8 and a 10.8:1 compression ratio, producing 332 horsepower at 5,100 rpm and 367 pound-feet of torque at 4,100 rpm. It runs on regular unleaded fuel. A unique 3.42 rear axle ratio is used with this powertrain combination to help deliver the outstanding acceleration that is a hallmark of the Escalade's performance. A standard rear locking differential makes sure that power is put down on the pavement when you need it.

A key contributor to the Escalade Hybrid's fuel economy is the gasoline engine's Auto Stop mode. Once the vehicle reaches 0mph, the gasoline engine is automatically shut down. By leaving the engine off and allowing the vehicle to mover only under electric power (up to 30 mph), such as during heavy stop-and-go traffic, fuel consumption and emissions are reduced to 0. However, when extra power is required, such as for wide-open throttle acceleration from a standing stop, the Vortec 6.0 liter V8 is seamlessly restarted so it can deliver the necessary power and torque. In this case, the engine is restarted effortlessly from the Auto Stop mode using the EVT's powerful internal electric motors; there is no traditional starter motor. The Escalade Hybrid retains the qualities that have made it the leading large luxury SUV on the market and a standard-bearer of Cadillac's overall product renaissance. It is instantly identifiable as a Cadillac and incorporates styling cues from the landmark Sixteen concept vehicle including a detailed signature grille, front fender ports and layers of chrome accents. The Escalade's warm and inviting interior features a premium, dual-cockpit layout. It is available in two colors, Ebony and Cashmere. Standard features not mentioned above include a distinctive instrument panel, wood covered center console and center stack, gauges with blue needles and blue light inlays with continuously lit, white-LED backlighting. The Escalade Hybrid also comes standard with all of the safety systems found in the gasoline powered model and includes dual front airbags, head curtain side airbags for all seating rows, front seatbelt pre-tensioners, tire pressure monitoring system, theft deterrent system, LATCH child seat anchors, side blind zone alert, remote keyless entry, front and rear crush zones and steel beams in each door. When you own and drive this new model from Cadillac, there is nothing lost in the driving or comfort experience, you'll be just gaining a better feeling of higher fuel economy and less emissions from the engine. The Escalade Hybrid is on the cutting edge of automotive high-technology.

© Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz SUMMARY JUDGMENT There's a whole lotta lovin' for this hybrid-powered lead zeppelin. For more information about Cadillac products, go to  More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at

SPECIFICATIONS Name: 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Price: $70,735.00 EPA mileage: 20 mpg/city, 21 mpg/highway Engine: Vortec 6000 6-liter V8 with Active Fuel Management and with GM's Two-Mode Hybrid System including a 300-volt energy storage system Horsepower: 332 at 5,100 rpm Torque: 367 pound-feet at 4,100 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear wheel drive or optional AWD Transmission: Two-mode continuous electric ratio hybrid transmission with four fixed gears Suspension: Front-coil-over-shock, road sensing suspension with real time damping Rear-five-links with coil springs, real time damping Wheels/tires: 22X9 chromed aluminum wheels/285/45R22in. Bridgestone performance tires Brakes: Front - 13 in. vented rotors clamped with dual-piston calipers Rear - 13.5 in. solid rotors clamped with single-piston calipers, all-wheel ABS Overall length: 202.5 in. Overall width: 79 in. Overall height: 74.3 in. Curb weight: 2WD - 5,727 pounds 4WD - 6,016 pounds

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