BY STEVE SILER
We don't usually report on the shenanigans of the show-biz glitterati, but that doesn't mean we don't participate in them. Such was the case when we popped our heads into GM's annual pre-Oscar fashion show/benefit/star brawl "Ten" event in Hollywood, which involves film, TV and music stars, donated designer duds, a concert, and a relatively impressive smattering of the General's concept, production, and custom cars. We go because it's one of those rare instances where a carmaker throws a lavish party for Hollywood influencers that isn't completely cheesy. Still, it isn't exactly full of automotive news.
So imagine our surprise when Oscar nominee (later to become Oscar winner) Jennifer Hudson strolled down the runway followed by Hollywood's favorite guilty pleasure, the Cadillac Escalade, this time wearing discreet little "Hybrid" badges on the doors and tailgate. Then we remembered last year's Detroit auto show, when GM showed us the upcoming 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, and told us that it intended to produce a hybrid Cadillac Escalade as well. However, we don't usually believe these kinds of things until we see them. And so there it was at Ten, which marks the first time GM has publicly shown the big 'brid to the public.
Powertrain Shared with Tahoe and Yukon Hybrids
Like the Tahoe and Yukon gas-electrics, the Escalade hybrid will be a two-mode hybrid that supplements GM's venerable 6.0-liter V-8 with power from two electric motors. At low speeds, the vehicle can run on batteries only, the engine only, or a combination of both. At higher speeds, another operating mode engages the electric motors and the cylinder deactivation system for more efficient operation. GM claims that harmful emissions will drop significantly, and fuel economy will be boosted by some 25 percent compared with utes equipped with the 5.3-liter V-8. The fuel-economy disparity with the standard Escalade, which comes with the gluttonous 403-hp, 6.2-liter V-8, should be even more significant.
The vehicle we saw was basically a working prototype that looked pretty much identical to the standard Escalade. We're told, however, that some changes will be made to the grille and front bumper to create a distinction between the hybrid and the more hedonistic standard model. After all, what's the point of driving a hybrid in Hollywood if you can't show the thing off? No changes are expected for the interior, however—the wood is already fake.
The Escalade hybrid is expected to go on sale in April or May of 2008 as a 2009 model, but you can bet your spirulina-infused wheat-grass protein shake that several dozen preproduction vehicles will be available in early March to shuttle the superstars up and down L.A.'s busy boulevards during Oscar week 2008.
Source: 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid - Auto Shows/Green Machines/Car Shopping/Hot Lists/Reviews/Car and Driver - Car And Driver