2009 Cadillac Escalade 4WD Hybrid

I'm amazed at what seems to be a considerable amount of variance between the two-mode hybrid system in this Escalade, and the one fitted to the GMC Sierra Hybrid that was also in our press car fleet. The GMC seemed quite apt to slip into EV mode, while the Caddy was all too eager to fire up its 6.0-liter V-8.

Oddly enough, this symptom is exhibited even during light driving. The Sierra could reach approximately 30 mph on electricity alone, but the Escalade could only reach 20 mph (23 on one downhill stretch). I also seem to recall GM claiming that its two-mode hybrids use the electric motor for reverse - odd, then, that backing out of parking spots would almost always trigger the combustion engine to start.

Perhaps this performance was due in part to our brisk weather, or perhaps the Escalade's battery pack wasn't fully charged (I couldn't tell, as GM doesn't provide the driver with any sort of battery status information). Still, I was underwhelmed, considering the Sierra Hybrid blew me away with the same powertrain.

One area I would love to see improved on all two-mode hybrids is the maximum speed attainable using the electric motors. 25 mph may be sufficient for small neighborhoods and parking lots, but most of the "low-speed" sectors of my neighborhood are rated at 30 to 35 mph. Driving ten under the speed limit may make the most of your hybrid's green abilities, but it certainly won't make you popular with other drivers.

Evan McCausland, Web Producer

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