Cadillac Escalade Hybrid & Ford Mustang
By Kelly Foss: Car Data Co.
CADILLAC ESCALADE HYBRID
To begin, the new Escalade Hybrid is a fine piece of luxury automotive workmanship. The regular Escalade shares the same platform with the Chevy Tahoe and the GMC Yukon, but its received the “full” Cadillac treatment. There is also the ESV long version similar to the Suburban in size, plus the EXT combo SUV/Truck model akin to the Avalanche. Our test model was the Hy brid edition of the standard Escalade. It also had the Platinum package.
At its foundation, the Escalade is a very elegant and pleasing SUV to drive. The standard engine is the 407 horsepower 6.3 liter V-8 also found in the Corvette. All-wheel drive is likewise standard as is a 6-speed automatic transmission. This combination moves the 3 ton truck down the road in a spirited manner. Because of the way it is set up and the luxury of the interior, it drives much smaller than it really is.
The Hybrid version is basically the same except that it is a rear-wheel drive vehicle, gets much better fuel economy and lower emissions. The regular gas V-8 Escalade is rated at 13 city and 20 highway miles per gallon. The Hybrid version is rated at 21 city and 22 highway. Please note that the city fuel economy is over 50 percent higher with the Hybrid! During the test period, I drove the vehicle without regard for fuel economy and still posted a 19.2 mpg overall rating after a week of driving. That’s about the same as a typical midsize sedan with a V-6, so it’s a very good number.
The Escalade has GM’s 2-mode hybrid system, meaning that the electric motors and the vehicle transmission all share the same case. The Hybrid model has a 6.0 V-8 active fuel management technology, allowing the vehicle to run on 4 cylinders when it isn’t pulling hard, thus increasing fuel economy. The genius of the Hybrid system is that the added power from the electric motors carries enough of the load that the V-8 is often in V-4 mode so the fuel economy is much better. The Hybrid system is very quiet. You hear some pleasing V-8 exhaust note plus some electric whirring sound muted in the background.
The Platinum edition adds top-of-the line accouterments to an already luxurious vehicle. In our test SUV, we enjoyed features like automatic retracting running boards, heated and cooled cup holders, heated and cooled seating, Olive Ash and Burled Walnut trim, special Tehama leather seats, a two-screen rear entertainment system and lovely 22 inch chrome wheels.
With an $86,175 price tag, the Escalade Hybrid is not for everyone. It is, however, a very popular luxury SUV and the Hybrid drive adds a significant measure of efficiency to it.
The Mustang, already a very popular vehicle, will add more fans to its club with this latest wave of upgrades. This batch isn’t merely cosmetic tweaks and superficial refinements. This time, Ford has done some major remodeling.
With any “performance” car, having good “performance” is a given. This is especially true when you’re in the arena with two other closely matched, fierce competitors, the Camaro and the Challenger. Of the three, the Mustang has the lowest power ratings largely due to the design limitations of their modular engine. Ford has really poured resources into building two modern no-excuses power plants for the 2011 Mustang.
The GT gets an all new all aluminum 5.0 liter dual overhead cam V-8 that produces 412 horsepower and 390 ft. lbs. of torque. This is impressive considering it is a naturally aspirated 5.0 liter or 300 cubic inch engine. The engine has Ti-VCT, which means that the intake and the exhaust camshafts can adjust on the fly independent of each other, allowing the fine tuning of engine performance while you drive. The icing on the cake is that this new, more powerful engine also gets better fuel economy with a 26 mpg rating on the freeway. With either the new 6-speed automatic or the 6-speed manual transmission, the new Mustang is fast, and in a recent test was able to reach 60 miles an hour in a mere 4.4 seconds…very fast indeed.
The new base Mustang also has a new powerplant. It is the dual overhead cam 3.7 liter V-6, which is shared with other Ford vehicles. It has 305 horsepower, nearly the same as the former Mustang GT’s V-8 and has basically the same acceleration numbers. The big bonus is that it delivers an EPA 31 mpg highway rating, which is class-leading.
Apart from the commendable performance of the vehicle, the Mustang is perfectly happy doing day-to-day commuter chores. It will putter around town as a grocery getter or a commuter vehicle with no complaint. The price is competitive and the fuel economy is good, so why not have an entertaining, drop-dead gorgeous car to handle your driving duties.
Technologies like Ford’s SYNC add very useful amenities to the car and truly heighten the ownership satisfaction experience. Spotter mirrors, basically a convex area on the mirror surface broadens your rearward vision. The rear seats now have folding headrests. MyKey allows the parent to program limitations into the vehicle such as maximum vehicle speed or mandatory seatbelt usage for the radio to work, type of controls.
In all, the new Mustang just keeps getting better and with a starting price just above $22,000, sales should continue to be brisk.
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