If pressed to name the vehicle that does everything, at any price, I would have to give a nod to the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid Platinum. GM calls it an exclusive package of luxury, style and technology. It is the latest in every aspect of automotive technology including the first SUV with LED headlamps in the industry.
Separating this top-of-the-line Escalade from other Escalades is like separating the Hope Diamond from the Crown Jewels of England. There is just so much bling one can admire at one time.
The Platinum comes with new front fascia with unique upper and lower grilles, 22-inch wheels only basketball super-stars could dream up, and a new magnetic ride control system. The exclusive interior includes Aniline leather on the first- and second-row seats and a DVD entertainment system integrated into the front-seat headrests.
The real wood is beautiful and the aluminum trim is aluminum. All of this luxury adds up so the Platinum Escalade test SUV came to whooping $89,000 plus, however, it truly does it all.
GM's hybrid is the world's first hybrid full-size luxury SUV. It comes with a V8 and two electric motors in order to get an EPA-rated 20 miles per gallon in the city and 22 on the highway. I was only able to achieve 18.7 mpg but this was running in all-wheel drive over our recent snow and slush.
There is nothing more comfortable in adverse conditions than an Escalade. It has flawless traction and superior brakes. This Cadillac is available in RWD and 4WD configurations. They deliver up to 5,800 pounds of towing capacity on RWD models and 5,600 pounds on switchable the 4WD model.
For 2011, the Escalade gets enhanced noise reduction with a laminated front windshield and front row
side glass. They have modified front row door weather strip and outside rear view mirrors. The audio system is easier to use and the ninth-generation OnStar technology included significant improvements to the system's voice recognition software.
The list of electronic wizardry is overwhelming but not impossible to operate with some familiarization. Cadillac has done a good job of improving quality of feel and function across their model lineup.
There is no longer an extended (Suburban) Escalade so the platform is now shared with only Yukon and Tahoe. New exterior colors include Carbon Flash Metallic (Escalade and Escalade ESV) and Mocha Steel Metallic.
For a limited time there is also an Evolution Green Metallic and Blue Frost that create a newer look for a dated exterior. Chrome is everywhere and overall, the Escalade still looks good- even without 22" wheels.
Some might be weary of all this technology and complicated drivetrain. Fear not. If one can afford this ride, GM is now offering a standard Cadillac Premium Care Maintenance program which covers scheduled oil changes, tire rotations, replacement of engine and cabin air filters and a multi-point vehicle inspection for four years or 50,000 miles.
They claim the Escalade Hybrid's battery pack is durable and reliable and are maintained via optimized charge and discharge cycles, as well as a dedicated cooling system that draws air from the passenger compartment. The vehicle's emission control system, hybrid drive line and the energy storage system are warranted for eight years/100,000 miles.