A Review of the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid SUV

By dancurranjr On March 13th, 2009

cadillac-escalade-hybridI don’t even know what escalade means. I used to think that it was Spanish for avalanche, but somebody told me that was not the case. Since then, I just assumed it meant big, obnoxious chrome-encrusted SUV featured in more hip-hop videos than Lil’ Wayne that spews toxic fumes like Rush Limbaugh. After a week of driving the ‘Slade Hybrid, I think I’m going to have to consult a dictionary, because that definition doesn’t work either.

I shouldn’t love this truck. I should hate it. I purposely do not own a car, and this all-black behemoth represents everything I hate about SUV culture: conspicuous consumption, insensitivity to our rapidly shrinking world and crowded cities, middle finger raised at global warming.

You could slap a cold fusion generator under Big Poppa Cadillac’s hood and the first two issues would still apply, but I was kind of wrong about that last one. Have you ever seen Godzilla vs. Megalon? Where Godzilla fights on behalf of the people of Japan against a giant rhinoceros/cockroach? Sure, Tokyo’s favorite monster still smashes a bunch of buildings and steps on some people, but he’s trying to be good. Same goes for this Hybrid Chromedaddy.

It’s still the scourge of parking lots and choked city streets, but I’ll be damned if I could get the needle on the fuel gauge to budge. It actually gets pretty decent mileage … for what’s essentially a glorified school bus. In mixed city driving I got between 20 and 25 mpg in the thing. Now if you’re riding solo, 20 mpg is nothing to brag about. But if you’re hauling an entire family of 6 — and the Escalade will hold them all comfortably — this Cadillac is, dare I say it, fairly efficient. That kind of fuel economy is on a par with the Honda Odyssey, and you don’t see looks of disgust on other parents’ faces when you pull up to the preschool in your Japanese minivan.

And you also don’t see your kids getting high fives when they climb out of an Odyssey either. Drop ’em off in this Caddy, and, little Timmy might start referring to his little friends as his entourage.

WIRED Decent pickup for a motorized bomb shelter. Extremely comfortable for up to eight people. Combined ABS and regenerative braking system do a terrific job of hauling the beast down from speed — we almost put a seatbeltless friend through the windshield (his own damn fault) when someone cut us off. TRICK motorized step makes it easy for Shorties to climb into your rolling condo. Plenty of cargo room if you remove the third-row seats.

TIRED You have to remove the third-row seats to get any decent amount of cargo space, and those seats must weigh 50 pounds each. Thing has a car phone. No, not Bluetooth, but an actual phone built into infotainment system (it’s actually just Onstar, but there was no other option for hands-free calling). What is this, 1989? Cadillac — God love ’em — uses the fact that this is a hybrid as an excuse to bling up the truck even more: Hybrid badges are plastered on every hard surface, on the sides of the door, even the windshield. It’s OK, though — they’re decent hippie repellents.


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