2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

We don’t usually report on the shenanigans of the show-biz glitterati, but that doesn’t mean we don’t participate in them. Such was the case when we popped our heads into GM’s annual pre-Oscar fashion show/benefit/star brawl “Ten” event in Hollywood, which involves film, TV and music stars, donated designer duds, a concert, and a relatively impressive smattering of the General’s concept, production, and custom cars. We go because it’s one of those rare instances where a carmaker throws a lavish party for Hollywood influencers that isn’t completely cheesy. Still, it isn’t exactly full of automotive news.

So imagine our surprise when Oscar nominee (later to become Oscar winner) Jennifer Hudson strolled down the runway followed by Hollywood’s favorite guilty pleasure, the Cadillac Escalade, this time wearing discreet little “Hybrid” badges on the doors and tailgate. Then we remembered last year’s Detroit auto show, when GM showed us the upcoming 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, and told us that it intended to produce a hybrid Cadillac Escalade as well. However, we don’t usually believe these kinds of things until we see them. And so there it was at Ten, which marks the first time GM has publicly shown the big ‘brid to the public.
Powertrain Shared with Tahoe and Yukon Hybrids

Like the Tahoe and Yukon gas-electrics, the Escalade hybrid will be a two-mode hybrid that supplements GM’s venerable 6.0-liter V-8 with power from two electric motors. At low speeds, the vehicle can run on batteries only, the engine only, or a combination of both. At higher speeds, another operating mode engages the electric motors and the cylinder deactivation system for more efficient operation. GM claims that harmful emissions will drop significantly, and fuel economy will be boosted by some 25 percent compared with utes equipped with the 5.3-liter V-8. The fuel-economy disparity with the standard Escalade, which comes with the gluttonous 403-hp, 6.2-liter V-8, should be even more significant.

Styling Changes

The vehicle we saw was basically a working prototype that looked pretty much identical to the standard Escalade. We’re told, however, that some changes will be made to the grille and front bumper to create a distinction between the hybrid and the more hedonistic standard model. After all, what’s the point of driving a hybrid in Hollywood if you can’t show the thing off? No changes are expected for the interior, however—the wood is already fake.

The Escalade hybrid is expected to go on sale in April or May of 2008 as a 2009 model, but you can bet your spirulina-infused wheat-grass protein shake that several dozen preproduction vehicles will be available in early March to shuttle the superstars up and down L.A.’s busy boulevards during Oscar week 2008.

Ironic isn’t it; a 7,500 pound (about 3,400 kg) “hybrid” beast with a 6.0-liter V8 engine. However, on the other hand, if the Escalade manages to deliver more than a 50-percent improvement in fuel economy in city driving compared to the standard models as GM promises, it’s better than not having it at all. Cadillac’s Hybrid Escalade is powered the same 2-Mode Hybrid system as both the Yukon and Tahoe hybrids.

The 2-Mode Hybrid system consists of an electrically variable transmission (EVT) and 300-volt nickel-metal hydride Energy Storage System (ESS) working in concert with the standard 6.0L V8 gasoline engine. According to Cadillac, the Escalade Hybrid will go on sale in the US in the summer of 2008. -Details after the jump

PRESS RELEASE: Cadillac announced the world premiere of the Escalade Hybrid, the world’s first fuel-saving hybrid applied to a large luxury SUV. Powered by an innovative, fuel-saving 2-Mode Hybrid system, Escalade Hybrid will deliver more than a 50-percent improvement in fuel economy in city driving – all while delivering the same distinctive style, segment-leading features and full-size capability that have made the Escalade an icon.

“Escalade, already the sales and style leader among large luxury SUVs, now adds the desirability of a fuel-saving, technically advanced hybrid system,” said Jim Taylor, Cadillac general manager. “The arrival of Escalade Hybrid means that consumers can now use less fossil fuel, reduce emissions and still enjoy the benefits of a full-size luxury SUV.”

The Hybrid goes on sale in the US in the summer of 2008 and is the newest example of Escalade’s technology leadership. The potential for sales of the Hybrid in Europe are currently being evaluated with a decision expected within six months.

“No other manufacturer offers a hybrid than can seat eight luxuriously while simultaneously carrying or trailering lots of cargo comfortably,” Taylor said. “And no hybrid delivers the dramatic presence that is synonymous with Escalade.”

Escalade Hybrid is available in 2WD and 4WD configurations. It delivers up to 6,000 pounds (2,722 kg) of usable towing capacity on 2WD models and 5,700 pounds (2,565 kg) on 4WD models. All of Escalade’s standard comfort and convenience features are included. This includes an eight-inch, touch-screen navigation system that displays performance readouts of the 2-Mode Hybrid system on the screen.

Escalade Hybrid extends Cadillac’s leadership in the large luxury SUV category. Escalade sales have grown in the face of changing sales trends and increased competition. In fact, Escalade sales increased 22 percent in September over year-ago sales. Other models in the Escalade lineup include the extended-length Escalade ESV and the versatile Escalade EXT luxury-utility truck. The Hybrid model is available with the standard Escalade body style.

Patented 2-Mode Hybrid technology

The Escalade’s 2-Mode Hybrid system allows it to return exceptional fuel economy in both city and highway while delivering the capabilities of a true luxury SUV. In city driving, this advanced hybrid power system enables Escalade to launch and drive low speeds on electricity alone. As additional power is demanded, the system blends output from the battery and gas engine smoothly.

GM’s patented 2-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 6.0L V-8 Gen IV gasoline engine with Active Fuel Management (AFM) and late-intake valve closing (LIVC) technology. AFM enables the V-8 engine to seamlessly shut off half of its cylinders when less power is needed, such as during highway cruising. This new hybrid system not only enables the Escalade Hybrid to drive low speeds on electricity alone, it also allows the 6.0L V-8 engine to operate in its more economical four-cylinder mode for longer periods.

The key to Escalade’s 2-Mode hybrid system is that the electric power used to propel the vehicle is generated by the hybrid system itself. When the brakes are applied or the vehicle is coasting, the electric motors within 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 2-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 2-Mode system delivers fuel savings where it is needed most – in large vehicles 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.

Cadillac’s smooth and quiet power

-Acoustic details specific to the Hybrid model ensure it delivers the superior luxury that has been an Escalade hallmark since its inception. The details include:

-A new exhaust system and resonator specially tuned for the 6.0L LIVC engine’s Active Fuel Management operation. It ensures comfortable interior acoustics and a pleasant exhaust note during both V-4 and V-8 operation

-An electrically driven, 300-volt air conditioning compressor reduces vibration and allows the HVAC system to cool the passenger compartment even when the gasoline engine is shut off. It includes the standard tri-zone climate system

-An electrically driven, 42-volt variable-assist power steering reduces vibration and provides up to a 0.5-mpg fuel economy improvement by reducing 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 occupants.

Escalade aesthetic

The Escalade Hybrid retains the qualities that have made it the leading large luxury SUV 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 vent ports and layers of chrome accents.

The Escalade’s warm and inviting interior features a premium layout. It is available in two colors, Ebony and Cashmere. Standard features include a distinctive instrument panel; gauges with white needles and blue light inlays with continuously lit, white-LED backlighting; Nuance leather-covered seats; leather-covered door trim and center console; and a power-assisted rear liftgate that opens and closes with the touch of a button.

Mechanical Features
Engine     V8 cylinder configuration
hybrid engine
regular unleaded
cylinder deactivation
DriveTrain     rear wheel drive
Instrumentation     tachometer
low fuel level warning
Comfort and Convenience Features
Convenience    cruise control
Comfort    dual zone climate controls – driver and passenger
Entertainment and Telematics
In Car Entertainment    radio data system
AM/FM stereo

Exterior    length: 202.5 in.
height: 74.3 in.
ground clearance: 9.0 in.
width: 79.0 in.
wheel base: 116.0 in.
Performance Data
Performance    drive type: RWD
base number of cylinders: 8
turning circle: 39.0 ft.

Scribbled on July 31st 2008 in Cadillac
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