In today's economy, everyone is looking for ways to save money.
Some people, like this guy, believe America's future lies in the expansion of green products to every corner of our lives.
Others want big cars that go fast and would knock a Prius onto the shoulder without feeling a bump in the road.
Can the two sides come together in an all-American (in both the positive and negative sense) vehicle like the 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid?
GM certainly hopes so, because bankruptcy wouldn't be good for the company or the U.S.A.
And for all you parents out there, Car & Caboodle is the one-stop shop for all your family driving needs.In 1952, a former president of GM named Charles Erwin Wilson was tapped by Dwight Eisenhower to become Secretary of Defense. During his closed confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services committee, Wilson uttered a phrase that would become a touchstone on the central role the powerful automaker plays in the United States. “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country,” the press reported. When, in fact, what Wilson said was, “For years I thought that what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa.”
As GM teeters on the once unthinkable verge of bankruptcy, the actual quote rings true in a whole new light. While driving the 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, I couldn’t help but wonder if “Engine Charlie” would stand by his famous misquote for different reasons altogether.
One of the big criticisms of GM is that they didn’t manufacture cars that “people want” and that the company relied on gas-guzzling SUVs at a time when it should have been focused on green machines. I’ve always found this specious because the Escalade was a huge hit from its introduction in 1999. It became the car of the “bling” age, a staple of hip-hop videos and The Sopranos alike. People definitely wanted it. With apologies to the Hummer, the Escalade became the love it/hate it model of American excess and lead to more questions about what’s truly good for the U.S.A.? Massive sales or better gas mileage?
That’s why the hybrid version doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It doesn’t seem to be good for GM or American drivers. It’s the auto equivalent of hitting the gym before bellying up at the steakhouse. It’s conspicuous consumption with a socially redeeming overlay, like wearing a $5,000 Vera Wang gown while carrying a purse made out of recycled material.
I’ve written about the 2007 version of the Escalade and the hybrid is generally more of the same, albeit one that leaps from 13/19mpg to the 19/22mpg range. These are estimates because the hybrid’s 5,727 lb. curb weight–325 lbs. heavier–keeps it in the class of heavy-duty trucks that don’t have to be rated. Sure, it’s strong: the 332hp, 367 lb-ft of torque, 4WD version I tested is rated to tow 5,600 lbs. So, if you happen to be one of the very few Escalade owners hauling a boat and the whole fam-damily across the country this summer, you don’t have to skimp on power while saving a few bucks, but the much larger owner class of kiddie-chauffeurs aren’t exactly jibing with the whole reduce-our-dependency-on-foreign-oil crowd.
As for day-to-day driving, the Escalade isn’t a green weenie, it has solid acceleration that will get you to 0-60 in under nine seconds. The brakes aren’t exactly smooth, but the V8 seamlessly drops to a V4 at highway speeds as part of its hybrid technology. The first two rows are plenty roomy and my diminutive Mother loved the sole option, the $1,095 power-deployed running boards. Good thing, otherwise we would’ve had to carry a stepladder at all times. The third row seats, however, are uncomfortable and don’t lie flat, which makes grocery packing a living game of Tetris.
I liked the gauge helping me stay in the green zone, and it’s interesting to be behind the wheel of something so large when the engine shuts off and the quiet zero-emission battery power kicks in. This being an Escalade though, it can’t be quiet in it’s eco-friendliness, the enormous “Hybrid” stickers announce the earthly do-goodness with authority.
The version I tested was a whopping, $75,330. That’s big money in today’s button-down climate, but it’s only $3,600 more than the non-hybrid version, so maybe the savings will be worth it in the long run. If nothing else, the hybrid can at least say it’s mildly better for Mother Earth without sacrificing heated/cooled front seats and 22″ chromed aluminum wheels.
Does the Escalade Hybrid elucidate the notion that what’s good for General Motors is good for America, and vice versa…. I wish Charlie Wilson were here to tell us.
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