2008 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid SUV is a go

The long-overdue 2008 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid SUV will, probably, be officially presented to the local public sometime before the end of year 2007. Trying to somehow off-set the huge SUV’s most glaring problem, General Motors will complement its powerful 6.0-liter V8 engine with a pair of electric motors rated at 60kW and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack placed beneath the third row.

The green Escalade has a good chance to become the first hybrid-powered full-size luxury eight-seater on the North American market.

The Escalade’s hybrid powertrain designed at GM’s Allison division will be assembled at the Powertrain Baltimore Transmission plant in Maryland.

2008 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid SUV is a go
2008 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid SUV is a go

According to the corporate press release, the heavy-duty two-mode hybrid transmission will be similar to those used in the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe and 2008 GMC Yukon truck-based SUV’s.

The ‘two-mode’ here means that at low speeds a car or a truck can run on pure electricity, as well as using the electric motor to provide an internal combustion engine with extra oomph during intensive acceleration.

The electric motor also relieves the gasoline or diesel engine from such mundane functions as providing electric power for the water pump, power steering, and even air conditioning systems.

According to the company, the the hybrid version of the “iconic” luxury truck will also sport such green features as regenerative braking and cylinder deactivation technology on the internal combustion engine that will help the 2008 Cadillac Escalade to achieve a whopping 25 percent gain in fuel economy.

Of course, compared to Japanese hybrids that offer you a revolting combination of Spartan, to put it mildly, interiors and ugly exteriors, this upcoming Escalade Hybrid looks like a real winner with its plush interior with lots of comfort and technology features and elegant exterior.

2008 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid SUV rear view

Although the truck-based SUV is still to get its official fuel efficiency rating, a 25 jump in mileage over the 14 mpg / 18 mpg in a standard city/highway cycle of a version powered by a standard 6.2-liter gasoline engine means that the hybrid-powered 7500-pound luxury SUV will run around 17.5 miles on a gallon of unleaded gasoline in a city cycle and some 22.5 miles per gallon on a highway. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on your driving habits, but the numbers still look quite impressive especially when you take into account the rate at which price of crude oil keeps climbing during the last couple of years.

It is still not clear whether an Escalade’s average buyer (a guy with lots of cash and a huge mansion standing on an expensive piece of real estate, that is) will be willing to buy a green SUV just to get a couple of extra miles per gallon, but it is clearly a nice time for a serious car manufacturing brand to take the plunge and finally create a real, seven-seating, full of luxury features alternative to Prius.

See also: Abt Q7 tuning kit for the 2007 Audi Q7 SUV

Photos: GM/Cadillac

2008 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid SUV Specifications:

Price Range (estimated MSRP): $71685
Body Type: 5-door SUV
Layout: V8 front engine, 4WD
Base Engine: 332 hp @ 5100 rpm, 367 ft lb (497Nm) of torque @ 4100 rpm, 6.2L, 16-valve, V8
Transmission: two-mode hybrid transmission with four fixed gears
Exterior Dimensions (L/W/H/WB): 202.5 / 79.0 / 74.3 / 116.0 in
Ground clearance: 9.0 in
Track (frt/rr): 68.2 / 67.0 in
Approach Angle (degrees): 17
Breakover Angle (degrees): N/A
Departure Angle (degrees): 21.9
Curb Weight: 6016 lbs (2729 kg)
Coefficient of Drag (Cd): N/A
Seating Capacity: up to 8 (2/3/3)
Cargo Volume (folded 2nd row and no 3rd row / folded only 3rd row): 108.9 / 16.9 cu ft
Payload (max w/ occupants and cargo): 1484 lbs (673kg)
Towing Capacity (max): 5,700 lbs (2585 kg)
Fuel tank: 24.5 gal (92.7 l)
Direct Competitors (4×4 capable): Effectively none. There are still no luxury SUVs on the North American market that offer both premium-quality interior and a hybrid drive system.