Power and fuel efficiency combine in this luxury SUV

Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
Engine: 6 liter, V-8 cylinder with additional electric motor, 332 horsepower
Acceleration: 0-60: 8.8 seconds
Braking: 4 wheel disc brakes, ABS, twin-piston calipers
Sound system: Bose stereo 6 CD changer with 10 speakers, Bluetooth System
Gas Mileage: 20 City/ 21 Highway EPA rating

The roomy, large, tall, boat-hauling SUV hardly conjures up the image of a high gas mileage champ. But the latest Cadillac Escalade Hybrid contradicts that picture.

Sure, it has a huge 6 liter v-8 with more than 300 horsepower (332 to be exact), but with some science and an electric motor, neither the city nor highway mileage goes below 20 miles per gallon.

To assist in the city mpg (which is where the big SUVs are killed in the mileage game), the hybrid solution comes to the rescue. Simply stated, the power plant turns off at full stops so no gas is consumed at all. and with a gentle start, the electric motor does the work, again saving gas. at a modest speed, the v-8 reasserts itself. and at various other times the gas and electric motors play off each other as needed. To keep the batteries charged, a regeneration system charges them when the brakes are applied. End result, an EPA mileage rating of 20 in the city. a much different approach, albeit based on the same gas-sipping concept, is used on the highway to obtain a 21 mpg rating from the EPA. Called by various names, this method works to turn off engine cylinders when cruising at a relatively high speed, but it does so at a steady pace, so that big v-8 becomes a much smaller v-4. and if power is needed again, it comes on instantly.

Besides carrying seven passengers with ease and comfort, the Escalade can haul about anything you can imagine, because the towing capacity is rated at 5,800 pounds.

Luxury and safety items, you ask? in a word, nothing much is left off the standard features list. inside, the pedals are power adjusted, a Bose super stereo is provided with audio controls on the steering wheel and separate controls and earphone jacks in the rear passenger compartment, and there is a power opening/tilting sunroof, which offers fun in the sun. Comfort and convenience items include three-zone air conditioning, a Bluetooth interface and OnStar, among other features.

Besides airbags and curtains nearly everywhere, the Escalade has some unique safety devices. When the transmission is placed in reverse, the large screen in the dash shows, with the help of a rear camera, exactly what is behind the SUV. To avoid the dreaded blind spot, the side mirrors give a visual warning that a vehicle is beside you and possibly out of your sightline.

To gain entrance to the storage area behind the seats, the liftgate is fully powered and can be opened or closed with a remote. in the “bling-bling” department, the expected trademark angular Cadillac chrome grill is supplemented with 22-inch chrome aluminum wheels. in the real world, the electric motor/gas motor transitions are transparent, and with light and smooth use of the accelerator pedal, the electric motor will silently move you to about 20 mph from a standing start before the gas power plant kicks in. The ride is compliant, but without any floating. as expected, the interior is saturated in leather with both wood and metal inserts. The seating configuration seats seven. The rear seats are easily flipped out of the way to carry enormous quantities of stuff, if needed.

So there you have it: an SUV in the true sense of the word, to carry people and stuff with or to tow nearly anything, yet with gas mileage that any driver of an ordinary car would be proud of. Bottom line: it’s “green” with “bling.”

Tesla

Drivers looking for a more Earth-friendly ride no longer have to compromise speed and stylish amenities. Tesla Motors is at the forefront of creating sleek, energy-efficient vehicles that run on electricity and still feed car enthusiasts’ need for a hot, high-performance car.

Tesla began operations in 2003. The California-based company created the roadster, which started as a prototype in 2006. The Tesla roadster sports car has a 0-to-60 acceleration rate of 3.9 seconds and an EPA rating of 135 miles per gallon.

The company recently announced plans for a Model S luxury sedan, which will be a zero-emission, five-passanger automobile run by a lithium-ion battery pack that gets 240 miles per charge. Base price for the Model S is slated around $60,000. The Model S will be released in 2011. in January 2009, Tesla announced sales of the roadster Sport, a faster derivative of its original roadster line that goes from 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds. The roadster Sport starts at $128,500 in the U.S.

Tesla delivers its cars to all 50 states, available for order at www.teslamotors.com.