Both the conventionally 2011 Cadillac Escalade and this hybrid-powered sibling earned strong Total Car Scores.
Its ratings were buoyed by the traits it shares with the gas-engine Escalade: bold styling, luxurious appointments and a comfortable ride.
Reviewers were less excited about the hybrid powertrain, which helps the big SUV get good -- but not great -- fuel economy. The hybrid also sacrifices some performance and tow capacity while suffering from some decidedly unrefined quirks, like a surging sensation through the brake pedal.
And then there’s the cost: about $10,000 over the standard powertrain, a price that isn’t easily made up in improved fuel economy alone.
All Escalades underwent a major revamp in four year earlier, so the changes for 2011 are fairly minor: a next-generation OnStar system, enhanced noise reduction measures (laminated glass and improved weatherstripping), new nav system features, and new exterior colors: Carbon Flash Metallic and limited-time “promotional” colors Evolution Green Metallic and Blue Frost.
The 2011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid is a gas/electric version of Cadillac’s luxury SUV. Like the conventionally powered model it will seat up to eight passengers, can be ordered with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel-drive, and is available in standard and upscale Platinum trim levels.
The top-tier Platinum package adds 22-inch wheels, Magnetic Ride Control suspension technology, a unique front fascia and other equipment to the already luxurious Escalade.
The major difference between the hybrid and conventional models is under the hood, where a 6.0-liter, 332-horsepower V8 is paired with an electrically variable four-speed transmission that contains two electric motors. An onboard regenerative system collects energy expended when the vehicle is coasting or braking to charge the nickel-metal hydride batteries, so the Escalade Hybrid does not need to be plugged in.
The hybrid powertrain improves the RWD Escalade’s fuel economy to an EPA rated 20 mpg city/23 highway/21 combined, compared to the 14/18/16 EPA numbers generated by the conventionally powered Escalade. The hybrid system does diminish the Escalade’s tow capacity somewhat, to 5,800 pounds in RWD versions, 5,600 pounds in 4WD models.
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