In the wake of rising gas prices, Cadillac conformed to the pressure to produce a more fuel-efficient version of their Escalade sport utility vehicle. Debuting for the 2009 model year, the Escalade Hybrid became the first Cadillac to use a gasoline/electric powertrain. The sport utility vehicle used an innovative automatic transmission. Called a 2-mode hybrid system, a transmission is combined with two electric motors creating a more efficient drive.
Regenerative braking, a 300-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack and an Auto Stop mode (allowing the gasoline engine to shut off at a stop) were also part of the electrified portion of the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid. Providing gasoline power was a special 6.0-liter V-8 engine featuring Active Fuel Management and an Atkinson-cycle combustion process. The gasoline engine of the Escalade Hybrid delivered 332 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. According to Cadillac, the hybrid version of the Escalade achieved up to 50 percent better fuel economy than the conventional luxury sport utility vehicle under certain driving conditions.
The Cadillac Escalade Hybrid could also tow a load up to 5,800 pounds in weight. Offered with rear-wheel as well as all-wheel drivetrains, the 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid was largely indistinguishable from the conventional version of the Escalade in appearance. Interior passenger capacity for seven occupants was preserved with the gasoline/electric powertrain. The Escalade Hybrid was standard equipped with high-end features such as an eight-inch touch screen navigation system and Nuance leather upholstery. In 2010, a Platinum trim version of the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid was introduced featuring unique wheels, rear passenger DVD entertainment system, LED headlights and a Magnetic Ride Control suspension system. The hybrid version of the Cadillac Escalade disappeared following the 2013 model year.
Utilizing a 6-liter Vortec V-8 alongside a special two-mode hybrid transmission, the 2011 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid is either a rear-wheel or four-wheel drive luxury sport utility supplying more than 20 miles per gallon in fuel economy.