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We Americans are in the midst of an economic binge. Except this time we are gorging ourselves on smaller cars, clipped coupons, Wal-Mart trips, “stay-cations,” and cheap entertainment.
But if you drive the 2009 Escalade Hybrid, you realize it will someday be preferable to gag and purge such gluttonous frugality. As the largest luxury hybrid vehicle on the market to date, the Escalade serves as a salve to our miserly motorist psyche: We can have luxury and greenery too, minus the guilt.
That’s a boon for cowering consumers, and even better for the chauffeured transportation industry. Operators now are a bit beleaguered amid the rubble of the post-Greenspan economy and the pressure to find greener, cheaper vehicles without sacrificing the luxury trappings of chauffeured services.
The Escalade Hybrid achieves what I mystically like to refer to as the hallowed, Tao-ish “template of balance.” It ranks among the first generation of hybrid luxury vehicles, and as is the case with hard-working first generations of anything, the Hybrid provides a practical template for balancing future luxury expectations with economic and environmental needs.
Upon entering the Escalade Hybrid for a one-week test drive, I felt a bit swaddled as I stepped off the retractable runner and snugged myself into the 14-way power-adjusted driver’s captain’s chair. The rich, buttery black leather felt as if it could produce a soothing lather at any moment. The lucid, lacquered brown wood trim was so captivating it made me want to trash all of our household furniture and redecorate everything a la Escalade accoutrements.
Now, don’t let the pampered luxuries and electric flair fool you. The Escalade packs power. Unfortunately, my first chance to test the acceleration on a prolonged uphill was stymied by a little Toyota Prius in my lane. The hybridette bugger just wouldn’t budge faster, and I could tell the agitated V-8 of my Escalade wanted to pounce on that itsy-bitsy road mouse and move on. But I reigned in the frisky motor, realizing auto insurance would not cover such primal automotive aggression. In the coming days, the Escalade climbed California hills with aplomb, making me feel like a hardy mountain man without leaving the driver’s seat.
After the first day of city driving, I noticed that the fuel gauge hadn’t moved. That troubled me. The fuel gauge on my personal car drifts toward empty every day, and I only average about 15 to 20 miles on a weekday. Was the gauge broken? What if I ran out of gas? Well, the Escalade fuel gauge finally moved a few days later. The more accurate mileage ratings at www.fueleconomy.gov give the Escalade Hybrid mileage estimates of 20 city/21 highway.