9.11.2008

Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Review



Would a 38 percent increase in fuel economy put a full-size SUV back on your shopping list? Chevrolet is hoping the answer is yes, because that's what they've done with the Tahoe Hybrid.

Putting a gasoline/electric hybrid system under the hood of the Tahoe runs the EPA estimated gas mileage up to 21 city/22 highway. Hybrids' ability to run on purely electric power at low speeds and to shut off at stoplights and in drive-throughs means bigger gains in city driving than on the open road.

Driving the Tahoe Hybrid is like driving any other Tahoe...very pleasant...made more so by the fact the gas gauge is taking a lot longer to move off of "F"...and by the silent running on pure electric power in parking lots and slow-moving traffic.

My only objection was a cosmetic one...the test vehicle came with no fewer than nine "Hybrid" badges...including three huge tape graphics (across the top of the windshield and along the bottom edge of each side). The week we had it, I took it to a church picnic, where one of my friends, a senior GM engineer, just smiled and said "Marketing."

Admittedly, those badges might reduce the dirty looks in the Whole Foods parking lot, but I bet three of them would work just as well as nine.

The main thing about the Tahoe Hybrid is that it's a first...the first full-size hybrid SUV. Hybrids need to move beyond compact cars to be profitable for the automakers and helpful to the environment. The Tahoe Hybrid is a terrific example for every automaker to follow.

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