Special Advertising Section
Cadillac leads among U.S. luxury makers with its current Escalade 2-Mode Hybrid full-size SUV (shown). Motivated by a happy marriage of a 332-hp 6.0-liter V-8 and twin electric motors embedded in its automatic transmission, it delivers 20 EPA mpg city and 21/highway, along with a quiet, spacious cabin and up to 5,800 pounds of towing capability. As for the potential not-too-distant future, Cadillac’s Converj concept blends a gorgeous coupe body and plush interior with an upscale version of the Volt’s range-extender EV powertrain.
Mercedes-Benz will also offer two different luxury hybrids here in the next few months. The 2010 S400 sedan combines a 275-hp 3.5-liter V-6 with a 20-hp electric motor for 30-mpg highway efficiency, 30-percent better than a comparable S550. The 2010 ML450 Hybrid (shown) SUV uses a 2-Mode system with two electric motors coupled to that same V-6. It will offer 21 mpg city and 24/highway (30-percent better than a V-8-powered ML550) when it arrives next month.
Although Audi offers no gas/electric hybrids today, its latest clean and green high-performance concept merits attention. Based on its highly touted R8 supercar, this all-electric “e-tron” (shown) packs a motor at each wheel for a combined 313 hp and a mind-boggling 3,319 pound-feet of torque. Audi says its lithium-ion battery pack can manage a decent 154 miles of range.
All three German luxury marques tout their clean-diesel offerings as more efficient than hybrids in non-city conditions, yet all are working hard on hybrids, as well. BMW and Mercedes co-developed GM’s 2-Mode Hybrid system and are now introducing their own versions. BMW’s first 2-Mode entry, the 2010 X6 ActiveHybrid Sports Activity Coupe (shown), can run on (lithium-ion) battery power alone up to 37 mph, then outrun most conventional crossovers with its 400-hp twin-turbo V-8. Its fuel efficiency is 20-percent better than BMW’s gas-only X6. BMW’s 2010 ActiveHybrid 7 sedan (also with twin-turbo V-8 power, but not a 2-Mode) should deliver 15-percent better efficiency than the gasoline 750i when it arrives next spring.
Lexus leads the high-end hybrid field with six gas/electric models, ranging from the new-for-2010 dedicated hybrid HS 250h sedan to the long-wheelbase ultra-luxe LS 600h L (shown). The former weds Lexus’ first four-cylinder to the Prius’ Synergy Drive hybrid system for impressive 35 mpg city and 34/highway EPA economy. The latter significantly ups the ante with a muscular 438-hp 5.0-liter V-8, while Lexus’ RS 400h and GS 450H sedans and RX 400h and 450h crossovers are V-6-powered.