Ever-increasing sensitivity regarding the environment and the role vehicle emissions play in air pollution has put gas guzzlers under serious fire. Facing and addressing this issue head on, General Motors developed the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. There have been many iterations of the Chevrolet Tahoe, and the Tahoe Hybrid has the potential to be the most historically and politically significant one yet.
As its name implies, the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is a full-size SUV with a gasoline/electric powertrain to help boost fuel economy. The EPA gives the two-wheel-drive Tahoe Hybrid a 21 mpg city/22 mpg highway fuel economy estimate, with a combined average of 21 mpg. This is approximately 30 percent better than a regular Tahoe.
The heart of the efficiency lies in the interplay between the electric power and the 6.0-liter gasoline V8 engine. Combined, they develop a maximum of 332 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. As with most other full hybrid vehicles, the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid can accelerate from a standstill to about 30 mph on electricity alone, a major factor in the Tahoe’s increased city fuel economy. When it’s time for the gasoline engine to chime in, it will. And when possible, it will utilize Active Fuel Management (AFM), which allows four of the V8’s cylinders to be shut down for still greater economy. The Tahoe also capitalizes on many existing hybrid technologies such as regenerative brakes, which are used to recharge the battery pack while slowing the vehicle.
GM’s calls this hybrid system “Two-Mode” and it was developed in conjunction with BMW and DaimlerChrysler. The transmission houses two 60-kilowatt electric motors, and it blends their power with that of the gasoline engine using three special planetary gearsets in addition to the four fixed ratios of the fairly conventional automatic transmission. Depending on the driving situation, the electronically variable transmission (EVT) can function with continuously variable gearing for light loads and fixed-ratio strength for more heavy-duty tasks, such as towing. The four-wheel-drive Tahoe also has low-range gearing, an unusual attribute for a hybrid SUV.
Because of the considerable weight added by the hybrid-related components, Chevrolet did make an effort to lighten the load and streamline the Tahoe Hybrid. In some places aluminum body panels replace their weightier counterparts, and thin-profile seats shed additional pounds. The Tahoe Hybrid also has aerodynamic add-ons and low-rolling-resistance tires.
The rest of the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid is largely identical to other, well-equipped Tahoe models. It has three rows of seating, a seven-passenger capacity and up to 109 cubic feet of cargo space, more than any other hybrid vehicle. Almost everything comes standard, including leather seating, a premium sound system and a navigation system. The only significant items left as options are a rear-seat entertainment system and a sunroof.
In our reviews of the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, we’ve found that it drives very much like a regular Tahoe. Acceleration and highway passing performance, in fact, are better than what a 5.3-liter V8-equipped Tahoe provides. The main downsides to the Tahoe Hybrid, however, are price and absolute fuel economy. Even considering the lessening impact of the federal tax credit for hybrid vehicles, the Hybrid still costs thousands more than a similarly equipped regular Tahoe. And the vehicle’s combined 21 mpg fuel economy rating, even though it’s a major improvement, is still a far cry from what most people would consider “good” fuel economy in the absolute sense. Conscientious consumers who don’t need massive towing capacity would be better served with the considerably less expensive, yet equally roomy and nearly as fuel-efficient Chevrolet Traverse full-size crossover SUV.
Used Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Models
The Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid was introduced as an all-new model for the 2008 model year. The following year, the Tahoe Hybrid gained power-adjustable pedals as well as a useful real-time traffic feature for the navigation system.