2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid: Winter Mileage


When the jet black Escalade Hybrid arrived last week, I was really excited at the prospect of ferrying the family to grandmother’s house in style, comfort and relative greenness. Although our station wagon gets better mileage, it seemed like a good idea. Then Dec. 24 arrived, and the rear-wheel-drive Escalade couldn’t get out of the icy confines of my alley. Minutes of cursing and shoveling enough ice to get the traction needed to re-park the beast later, we were packing lots of gifts into our Subaru Outback. The Subaru had no problem with the ice.

This meant I wouldn’t put as many miles on the green Escalade as I would have hoped. Luckily, I had to go home without the family on Sunday then return to pick them up. The weather had changed significantly and all the ice was gone, so I hopped into the Escalade and headed back out to the Chicago suburbs.

Now, for people who scrutinize reports such as these, here were the conditions:

  • Sub-30 degree temperatures
  • 15-30 mph winds
  • Heat and radio on
  • Empty SUV on the way out, full on the way back

Including some limited city driving before Sunday, on the trip out to the suburbs the Escalade Hybrid returned 15.8 mpg over 30-plus miles, according to the trip computer. That’s well below the 20/21 mpg city/highway rating on the sticker. Now, that pesky cold temperature, winds, some warm-up time and a heavy led foot could all add to the poor mileage.

I reset the trip computer, loaded the Escalade up with the family and cargo and headed back. Again, approximately 5 miles of suburban driving and 30 or so miles on the highway at around 70 mph. This trip got much better results, with the trip computer returning 18.6 mpg — though that’s still short of the mileage on the sticker. But I felt much better writing off this much smaller difference to environmental factors. It’s too bad I didn’t have the full vacation with the Escalade to get a better test. Maybe next time they’ll drop off a four-wheel-drive Escalade.

I filled up the Escalade this morning, topping it off with only 8 gallons, before it went back to the fleet. The trip computer said we had gone a total of 120 miles. That comes out to 15 mpg. That’s well off the trip computer and well off the estimated mileage from the EPA. It’s also well off what the Tahoe Hybrid got during our Hybrid Mileage Challenge back in May, which was 20.5 mpg — granted, though, that was almost all city driving. Perhaps the weather does have a dramatic impact on mileage in these large hybrids.   



Winter temperatures play a huge role in hybrid economy. The full hybrids like the Escalade and Prius run the gasoline engine continously until the emissions system warms up and the cabin reaches the preset temperature. Only then will the computer let the gas engine do the stop/start cycle stuff where you get the great mileage. Your average mileage really tanks in cold weather if you're driving less than 20 or 30 minutes at a time. During a recent cold snap, our Prius only managed about 40 mpg in short-trip city driving - 20 percent below its summer average. In my experience the average bounces back on long highway drives or continuous city/suburban driving, where everything's warmed up. The Prius has an interesting feature: at shutdown it pumps the warm engine coolant into a thermos type container and stores the heat so the next time you get in the car the warmup cycle is a bit shorter. It's nice to get instant heat in the winter too.


Good article

I"m in the 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid now! so expect a similar report next week.


15.8mpg is still better than the 10 or 11 with a regular Slade.

And while it's no surprise that the OutBack was in its element and managed to shine in the situation, remember that it doesn't have enough "Bling" to make it a true replacement for the Puff Daddy's or gang-bangers who buy Caddies, not Subarus.

What a beast btw. And not in a good way.



Are you doing the pedal to the metal again?
BTW, Opera does not work with this site.

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