The Escalade continues into 2010 with no major changes, though it does get a number of new features and other revisions. Active Fuel Management technology is added to the 6.2-liter V8 engine to improve fuel efficiency, while a new battery saver shuts off accessory power when the charge gets too low. Side thorax airbags have been added in front, and the inside door panels have been revised for better side-impact protection. The in-dash clock that was formerly offered only in the Platinum model is now standard on all Escalades, and there's a new USB connector that functions as an audio interface or gadget charger. <p><p>Hybrid models of the Escalade get a taller axle ratio for improved fuel economy; the 6.0-liter engine in the Hybrid is now also flex-fuel capable. <p><p>Also, there's one color change to the Escalade lineup: Silver Lining replaces Quick Silver and Blue Chip.
The Escalade includes three different models--the standard Escalade and extended-length Escalade ESV, which are luxurious sport-utility vehicles; and the Escalade EST, which includes most of the attributes of the Escalade SUV but offers a pickup bed.
No matter which style you choose, the Escalade is powered by a 403-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 engine that's also flex-fuel capable, meaning that it can run on a gasoline-ethanol mix, up to 85 percent ethanol. It's paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or all-wheel drive--the full-time AWD system does not include a low range and is designed for on-road duty.
The Escalade Hybrid employs a version of GM's 2-mode hybrid system, featuring an electric motor system that can capture energy when coasting or cruising and use it to assist when accelerating. The Hybrid's powertrain also features a variable automatic transmission and a 300-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack. The engine also has an Auto Stop mode that further aids fuel savings while in stop-and-go situations, while the air conditioning compressor and power steering are driven electrically to save power. Altogether, the Hybrid delivers EPA ratings of 20 city, 21 highway, with a fuel 5,800-pound tow rating.
The Escalade performs surprisingly well for a heavy, body-on-frame SUV, with the V8 providing strong acceleration and impressive passing power; it also handles quite well and has been tuned for smooth, but not bouncy, ride quality. Across the lineup, big 4-wheel disc brakes are included, along with anti-lock brakes and GM's Stabilitrak electronic stability control, plus a full roster of airbags.
Additional high-tech safety features offered on the Escalade include Side Blind Zone Alert, which sounds an audible (and visual) alert if there are objects detected in the blind zones. On Star Turn-by-Turn Navigation allows the driver to download directions from an operator-assisted call center directly to the navigation system, while XM NavTraffic enables live traffic updates.
The key difference between the standard Escalade and the ESV is that the ESV's wheelbase is more than a foot longer. That means that while the ESV won't turn and park quite as neatly, it does offer a bit more legroom for the third row, along with more space behind it; access to the third row is improved as well. Both versions get a fold-and-tumble second row, however. Standard Escalades and ESV models have seating for up to seven, while the EXT has space for up to five, with two rows of seating and a small pickup bed that's just large enough for a piece of furniture or an ATV. What makes the EXT especially noteworthy is that the cargo bed can be extended into the cabin when necessary to accommodate larger items, while a lockable tonneau cover can be placed over items when you're not using the entire bed.
Escalade and Escalade ESV are offered in Base, Luxury, Premium, and Platinum editions. The Platinum models get a long list of exclusive equipment, including Magnetic Ride Control (which helps further improve both ride and handling), distinctive LED headlamps, Airline leather with contrasting stitching, special leather surfaces with French-stitched seams, and special wood and aluminum trim. The standard Escalade cabin is nearly as lavish, with Ebony and Cashmere interior surfaces, white LED lighting, heated-and-cooled front seats, and a heated steering wheel.