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Cadillac Escalade goes green?

Cadillac launches a hybrid and a luxury Escalade.


Cadillac gives a nod towards the environmental set with its all-new hybrid Cadillac Escalade, which gets a 50 percent fuel economy improvement over the standard Escalade. The Escalade has been a symbol of conspicuous consumption, so it seems surprising that Cadillac would outfit it with a gas-saving hybrid powertrain. But this hybrid system, developed in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz and BMW, works very well, and won't detract from the Escalade's luxury image. We've driven a GMC Yukon Hybrid using this same system and came away impressed. Starting out, the truck drives like a Prius, under electric power up to 25 or 30mph if you keep the throttle light. When it's needed, the big 6-liter V-8 kicks in. At a stop light, the gas engine turns off, saving gas and emitting no pollutants. The Escalade Hybrid also uses regenerative braking, which charges up its batteries and saves wear and tear on brake linings.

GM hasn't released mileage numbers for this beast yet, but given that a two-wheel-drive Escalade gets an EPA-rated average of 14mpg, a 50 percent increase could put it above 20mpg, quite an achievement for a truck of this size. Cadillac has a few other tricks to save gas, such as a cylinder deactivation system that stops sending fuel to half of the engine cylinders during low-load cruising, on the freeway for example. Could the Escalade Hybrid inspire a new music genre of eco-rap?

If green isn't your color, Cadillac brings the bling with the Escalade Platinum, announced at the same time as the hybrid. The Escalade Platinum comes pre-pimped, with 22-inch wheels and a hand-crafted interior. Its DVD player uses LCDs mounted in the back of each headrest along with a roof-mounted LCD, suitable excess for the Escalade. It will also be one of the first production vehicles to employ LED headlights, following the Lexus LS 600h. We will be seeing both Escalades at the upcoming Los Angeles auto show.