Tahoe Hybrid

We’ve just spent a week’s time with a 2009 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid. When the big SUV crept out of the driveway for the last time earlier today, I was still trying to get my head around the target market. While the Tahoe Hybrid delivers significantly improved fuel economy over the conventional version, it does so at a price. At today’s lower gas prices, it would seem that the added cost of the hybrid drive train presents a roadblock to sales. But just hours after giving up the keys to our blue granite metallic test unit, I saw my first Tahoe Hybrid in the wild – and in our town, no less – while performing after-school family taxi duties.

A quick trip to eBay is an indicator of the current level of discounting. At least one dealer was slashing seven thousand dollars off the Tahoe Hybrid’s MSRP. Buyers can also expect another $2,200 off for the federal hybrid tax credit.

It can take a while to get accustomed to driving the Tahoe Hybrid. Stomping on the accelerator pedal from a standing start is an interesting experience, to say the least. In this video, the system is in Auto Stop mode, with the engine off, as it launches.

Over our week of testing, the 2-mode hybrid system switched flawlessly between modes. With a 300 watt battery pack, two sixty kilowatt electric motors, and active fuel management on the 6.0 liter V8, we had no problem exceeding the official estimates of 20 city / 20 highway. (While those numbers might not seem all that large, keep in mind that the 4WD Tahoe Hybrid weighs in at 5835 pounds.)

This MPGomatic exclusive segment from SEMA 2008 with Joel McGuire from GM provides a bit of detail on how the Tahoe’s 2-mode hybrid system works …

Getting the most out of the system can take some patience. We rolled through a good bit of tape this week and have some sifting to do, so it might take a day or two to post the video(s) for our full Tahoe Hybrid review. Stay tuned!

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