NEW FOR 2009:

– 2-Mode Hybrid model
– E85 capability on 6.2-litre V8
– Standard power tilting steering wheel, XM satellite radio with NavTraffic real-time traffic
– New LED headlamps on Platinum edition
– Available Side Blind Zone Alert system
– Interior colour: Light Cashmere/Cocoa combination added

For 2009, the Cadillac Escalade 2-Mode Hybrid goes into full production. GM says is the world’s first large SUV hybrid, offering a 32 per cent fuel economy improvement over the conventional AWD model. Other changes include a NavTraffic system and an available Side Blind Zone Alert system which warns drivers when a vehicle or object is in the rear “blind spots.”

The Escalade is available as the Escalade and long-wheelbase Escalade ESV; the Escalade EXT pickup truck is covered separately. Both use a 6.2-litre V8 with six-speed automatic transmission. The 2-Mode Hybrid uses a 6.0-litre V8 with Active Fuel Management and a hybrid system, mated to a 2-Mode continuous electric ratio hybrid transmission. The 2-Mode Hybrid is able to operate on battery power alone, on the gasoline engine, or on a combination of the two, and recharges through regenerative braking. All models are all-wheel drive.

Features on the Escalade include 18-inch alloy wheels, tri-zone automatic climate control, privacy glass, power liftgate, LED taillights, fog lamps, heated mirrors with driver’s side auto-dimming, integrated turn signals, puddle lamps and power tilt-down, front recovery hooks, roof rack, running boards, rain-sensing wipers, rear washer/wiper, garage door opener, cruise control, driver information centre, tire pressure monitoring system, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-adjustable pedals, power-tilt wood and leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, power windows with front auto express up/down, ten-way heated leather seats, driver’s side memory, second-row heated leather bucket seats, removable third-row 50/50 split-folding leather bench seat, six-CD/DVD stereo, navigation system, XM satellite radio, rear seat audio controls and headphone jacks, road-sensing suspension with rear auto-levelling, power locks with keyless entry, automatic xenon headlamps, rear parking assist, anti-theft system, and OnStar with Turn by Turn Navigation plan.

The Escalade ESV is similarly equipped.

The 2-Mode Hybrid adds 22-inch chromed alloy wheels, power sunroof, heated and cooled seats, second-row heated leather 60/40 split-folding bench seat, electric power steering, Magnetic Ride Control suspension, and automatic high beam headlight control.

Sharing its platform with the Chevrolet Suburban, the Escalade handles well for its size, although you’ll notice its bulk when you try to park it in a tight space. All come with three rows of seats, but if you’re hauling third-row passengers on a regular basis, go for the long-wheelbase ESV, which provides more room. Unlike many hybrid models, the Escalade 2-Mode Hybrid is better outfitted than its conventional cousins, although its extra features can be added to the others.

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