2009 Cadillac Escalade 4WD Hybrid

I averaged 15.2 mpg commuting to work and about 17 on the highway. That's disappointingly short of the EPA's 20/21 numbers. The sudden return to winter temperatures this weekend surely didn't help the batteries, but frankly, I don't see how anyone could achieve those numbers on a consistent basis. To get to my paltry results, I had to set cruise at 70 mph on the highway, and I was often 10 mph below the speed limit when puttering around Ann Arbor (quite inadvisable, since most drivers travel between 5 and 10 mph over the speed limit). I wasn't quite hypermiling, but I certainly did more than the average driver would do to save fuel.

The fault is not with the hybrid technology. I am extremely impressed by the electric motor's ability to propel the Escalade's 6000 pounds at speeds up to 20 mph - something difficult to do even in the Toyota Camry Hybrid. The problem is that no amount of two-mode wizardry can turn a heavy, brick-shaped, V-8-powered truck into a fuel sipper.

When it comes to its traditional strengths - power, utility, and in-your-face luxury - the Escalade is better than ever. The interior in particular is a vast improvement from the last generation's poorly camouflaged pickup truck cabin. It also steers surprisingly well for something this big, although the mushy regenerative brakes are less confidence inspiring.

Bottom line: the Escalade is still a very good luxury truck, but it's not that inspiring a hybrid.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

New Car Research

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