For my second press vehicle in Portland I’ll be spending the week with a 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist. See? They are still trying to change my ways.
Regardless of its green cred, I’m looking forward to my week with the LaCrosse eAssist. I spent about 10 minutes driving one once before and in 10 minutes was already making notes about likes and dislikes. So this should make for an interesting, if not fuel efficient, week.
On paper the LaCrosse eAssist impresses with an EPA rating of 36 mpg on the highway. That’s nothing if not eyebrow raising for such a large sedan.
Stay tuned for more updates…as I continue to go green in Portlandia.
Cadillac latest advertising campaign pegs the brand as “The New Standard of the World.” But are they really? Over the past 10 years, there is no question that they haven’t been. But do vehicles like the Cadillac Escalade Platinum stand to change that?
The Cadillac Escalade Platinum stands for all the right things at the wrong time. With 22″ wheels, three TV screens and a 6.0-Liter V8, the Escalade is what many would say is wrong with America. Wait a second, what’s this? It’s a hybrid!
GM launched its two-mode hybrid system in the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon full size SUVs. Both of those full size SUVs share the GMT-900 platform with the Cadillac Escalade, making an Escalade hybrid model a no brainer.
The exterior of the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and the GMC Yukon Hybrid both feature slightly tweaked exteriors for enhanced aerodynamics. The Escalade hybrid does not feature a different front end or body work, but the Platinum edition does.
The grille is an egg crate-like design that is more in-line with the rest of the Cadillac line-up. The headlights are fully LED with a unique design exclusive to the Platinum edition. I actually like the grille design on the Platinum better than the regular Escalade.
While the headlight design is certainly unique, I’m not sure if they are better or worse. The LED headlights flood the road with natural blueish white light. This clashes with the yellow light that hits the road from the halogen fog lights. I wish Cadillac has fitted LED lights in the fog lights along with the headlights. This would give the front end a much more cohesive look at night.
The Platinum also features 22″ chrome multi-spoke wheels which put the Escalade up in the air. To help get into this land barge you have automatic step bars. They deploy as soon as any of the doors open. Around back, the Escalade Platinum features all-LED lighting.
Visually the Escalade is already an in your face, over the top vehicle. The Platinum edition takes that all one step further and in reality it looks better than the regular Escalade in many regards.
The interior takes the regular Escalade to the next level. Everything is pretty much real wood, real aluminum or one of two different kinds of real wood. The doors and top of the dash are both wrapped in leather while the center stack and anything on the dash that isn’t wood is aluminum.
The steering wheel features a nice combination of all three materials. While the Platinum features a heated steering wheel, the Hybrid Platinum does not. Cadillac decided to forgo this feature due to the energy draw. Too bad, with aluminum and wood on the steering wheel, chilly doesn’t begin to describe the feeling in your hands when it is zero degrees outside.
The fist two rows are covered in a very nice aniline leather, while the third row settles for nuance leather. In all reality, both are very nice looking and feel great. As mentioned before, the Platinum Escalade features two different types of wood inside. Both olive ash and walnut burl adorn the dash with an intricate yet tasteful break to switch from one to the other.
The gauges are white with blue needles. Chrome surrounds the gauges, which I might have thought would be distracting in sunlight, but I am happy to report it is not.
Navigation is standard, though slightly dated. The system is DVD-based which means it is not instant when changing map views and such. The navigation system does have live traffic,which is provided by XM. The main navigation screen is also home to most of the settings, the sound system and the hybrid drivetrain graphic, which shows you where the power is being routed and from what source. The sound system is Bose branded and sounds alright, but it isn’t mind blowing by any means. The Harman Kardon and Pioneer sound systems that GM has been using in other vehicles sound better.
The Escalade Hybrid Platinum features a rear seat entertainment package. This consisted of not one or two, but three screens. Why three? Because this is the Platinum. Two of those screens are seven inches in dimater and are mounted in the front two headrests. The third screen is eight inches and drops down from the top of the Escalade. There were remotes and headphones galore.
If you haven’t already decided from the pictures and all the above, the interior of the Escalade Hybrid Platinum is definitely a nice place to both be for both the driver and passengers. I would go as far as to say, the interior of the Platinum is exactly what a Cadillac should be. Granted I would give it a technology update, but that is beside the point.
The Escalade Hybrid’s powertrain is a 6.0-liter Vortec V-8 with active fuel management paired to two 60 kilowatt electric motors. The power goes through a 2-mode transmission, which is essentially a four speed. Two speeds are for city speeds, while two speeds are for highway speeds. The cutoff is at 40 miles per hour for switching from city to highway mode.
I was highly impressed with the system. It is smooth and overall very seamless. During the week I had the Escalade Hybrid it was around zero degrees the entire time. This meant that the battery pack had to work harder to hold a charge.
The engine stop-start function didn’t really kick in until the vehicle and battery were both thoroughly warmed up. So short drives did not get the full benefit of the hybrid powertrain. When I had the Tahoe Hybrid it was spring and warm. I saw an average of 19.6 mpg in mixed urban/suburban driving. With the Escalade Hybrid Platinum I saw an average of 15.3 mpg. While the weather definitely impacted my mileage, this is better than the 12 mpg I probably would have seen with the non-hybrid version.
The Escalade Hybrid Platinum I had for a week had a sticker price of $89,090. That is a lot of coin for an SUV, or any vehicle for that matter. The Hybrid Platinum is the highest trim model of Escalade that you can purchase. Is it worth nearly $90,000? Probably not. Then again I wouldn’t spend nearly $90k for a BMW X6M either, and that has 555 horsepower. The price tag seems a bit unreasonable.
With all that said, this is absolutely without a question the nicest Cadillac Escalade available, and it is a little greener to boot. There is no question that the Hybrid is more fuel efficient, especially when it is not 0 degrees outside.
I’m going to stick with my statement from earlier, defining this vehicle as what a Cadillac should be. A really nice interior filled with leather, real metal and wood, and a powerful yet somewhat green powertrain. If Cadillac can build vehicles like this and push the boundaries of technology further, they might have a chance at yet again becoming the standard of the world.
Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors
Behold in all its glory, this very rare, super special GMC Jimmy. Very few of these SuperSport Hybrid Jimmy’s were made, finding one in halfway decent condition, that’s next to impossible. My good friend Mark just happened to stumble upon this fine example driving down the highway here in Minneapolis this week.
Ok fine, you got me. There was no GMC Jimmy SS Hybrid. But, I will say somewhere there is a Toyota Hybrid that is missing a badge of honor, and I bet it wants it back dearly. As for the SuperSport badge, who knows. What a cluster this piece of work is. I must say, the 4X4 decals really do finish off the picture.
This week we continue with the new segment called car spotting. Justin spotted a 1980 Corvette Indy Pace Car, Detomasso Pantera, 1960s jaguar e type convertible, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, possibally a Pagoni Zonda. Tony & I lead boring lives the last few weeks in comparison to Justin, thus we spotted nothing exciting.
Next came our main topic which was discussing features we would like to see in all cars. (Link)
Episode 31 starts with introducing this weeks guest Jeremy Sally from Cheers and Gears. Moving into the garage we talk about the 2011 Lincoln MKT I was in for the 4th of July weekend, along with the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport I was in the past week. We then move along to the major news of the week segment. This week included-
I wanted to start this review off by stating how much I really like the current Chevrolet Tahoe. As far as larger body on frame SUV’s go, I like it a lot. When I received word I would have a Tahoe Hybrid to review, my first thought was how interesting it would be. Since I like the regular Tahoe, would I like the hybrid? After a week, lets dive in and find out.
The exterior of the current Tahoe is terrific. Changes were necessary in many areas on the exterior for the Hybrid model. These changes were for improvements to aerodynamics, which include a different grille, new lower air dam which is much lower to the ground, slight sculpting in the rear rocker panels and other little things. The wheels are also a different design, and are wrapped in low rolling resistance tires. The Tahoe is a sharp vehicle but the lower front air dam on the hybrid looks somewhat awkward to me. The lower ground clearance in the front meant I scraped the front end on a few driveway entrances. This is a full-size SUV in which I can scrape the bottom front air dam on a driveway entrance. That somewhat bothered me! I also like the non-hybrid grilles slightly better. Other then the front end and wheels, you will not notice a huge difference between the hybrid and regular Tahoe aside from the hybrid badges. Though I am not a huge fan of all the necessary aerodynamic changes, the Tahoe is still a looker and the hybrid model is not that much worse.
I also like the interior of the regular Tahoe and not many changes were made for the hybrid. The battery pack resides under the second row of seats. They can tumble fully forward. The third row tumbles forward but does not fold flat like the current generation Ford Expedition and can be fully removed, but they are not light. Make sure you do not have a bad back! Also make sure you have somewhere to store them. The front seats are very comfortable and will be easy to take a long road trip with. The navigation unit is still disc based and the resolution on the particular unit in this Tahoe hybrid had a somewhat fuzzy aspect to it. The words and everything just did not seem as crisp as other units I have seen from GM of the same variety. You do have a hybrid mode screen where you can see exactly what is happening with the powertrain. I found that,while it was cool, ultimately I would rather have the navigation map up or the radio station presets. I found that to be more useful. The gauge cluster has plenty of information to inform you what mode you are running in and how much power is coming from where. The rest of the interior is standard Tahoe, which is nice – however a power lift gate on a SUV with this price tag would not be a lot to ask for. Not to mention the lack of telescoping steering wheel! Overall, the interior is a nice place to spend your time, but small changes could be made to enhance it.
The powertrain is a 6.0 liter Vortec V8 with active fuel management, along with two 60 kilowatt electric motors. This was a four-wheel drive model, so the power can be pushed to the rear wheels or all four depending on the mode. The transmission is a “2-mode” system that was developed in collaboration with Daimler and BMW. The transmission essentially works in two modes, one in the city at speeds below 40 miles per hour an one at speeds above 40 miles per hour. Essentially one is a city mode and one is a highway mode. They are trying to maximize both conditions with less compromises. It is a somewhat unique approach, seeing as most hybrids do not focus on highway mileage as much as city mileage. I was highly impressed with the overall system. The switching between battery and gasoline, as well as the combination of both, was very smooth. I noticed the engine was operating in four-cylinder mode a lot more often then the Silverado I recently had with active fuel management. This tells me that the settings are much more aggressive due to the battery and electric motor assistance. The EPA rates the mileage at 21/22 mpg. I saw an average of 19.6 mpg in mixed city driving.
The battery pack
The total bill for this Tahoe after options and everything was $56,810 including destination. The only two options on this particular vehicle was the entertainment/destination package which was $2,390 and the red jewel tintcoat paint for $395. Many features that are optional on non-hybrid models or that you need to upgrade trim levels for normally, are standard on the hybrid model – including the navigation package. The base price for the Tahoe Hybrid with four wheel drive is $53,525.
So at the end of the week, did I like the Tahoe hybrid as much as I like the Tahoe? The reality of it is that the powertrain and driving experience is much more seamless and refined then I imagined it would be. I was highly impressed in that regard. The bottom line, if you are in the market for a full-size (body on frame) SUV and care about the environment mileage numbers, then the Tahoe Hybrid delivers on the promise of better fuel economy with a refined hybrid experience.
Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors
This Thursday the up coming Fisker Karma sedan will have its local unveiling. The sedan will be shown to the public at Borton Volvo which will be the Twin Cities only Fisker dealership.
Quick run down -
WHO: Created by acclaimed Danish designer Henrik Fisker, who also designed the BMW Z8 and the Aston Martin DB8, the Fisker Karma combines plug-in hybrid technology with stunning design and sports car performance.
WHEN: Thursday, June 10, 2010 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Borton Volvo/Fisker, 905 Hampshire Ave. S., Golden Valley, MN 55426
FISKER KARMA DETAILS:
Combines world-class luxury and sports car-like performance with industry-leading economy and zero tailpipe emissions in electric mode.
With 403 hp, it can reach 60 mph in six seconds and a top speed of 125 mph.
Achieves more than 100 mpg.
Lithium-ion battery can be fully recharged in as little as eight hours from any electrical outlet.
A gasoline generator provides electric propulsion when the battery is low
So this lonely police Dodge Charger is having an identity crisis. This is obviously equipped with the Hemi V8 based on the dual exhaust. Though the Honda V6 badge and the Ford flex fuel badges are a bit misleading. That and the Hybrid badge makes no sense seeing as there is no such thing as a hybrid Dodge Charger. The best part? This vehicle lives in the great state of California, also known as the home of the Toyota Prius.