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2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Review


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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2009 CHEVROLET TAHOE HYBRID REVIEW
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE TAHOE HYBRID VEHICLE
The Tahoe Hybrid makes its mark in two ways: By being the first GMC-built vehicle to use the two-mode hybrid system; and secondly, to use hybrid technology in any full-size SUV. Whether or not you're a fan of large SUVs, it is quite a feat to tune a large 6.0-liter V8 engine to retain 20-mpg on the dot. It has received its accolades, such as Green Car of the Year.

I drove a 2008 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid with 4-wheel drive and the two-mode, 6.0-liter V8 engine. Standard highlights included 6-way power seating; heated leather seating; second-row climate control; power adjustable pedals; remote vehicle start; rearview camera system; Bose stereo; 1 year of OnStar service. The power sliding glass was an extra ($995) as was the rear seat DVD entertainment system ($1,295). Total vehicle price came to $56,500.

Making a big point of categorizing the Tahoe Hybrid's gas consumption as the same as the 4-cylinder Toyota Camry – that is, the 2-wheel drive engine, which gets 21-mpg. It's certainly true any vehicle with such a large V8 engine can get anywhere near this gas mileage.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Despite the leather and wood trim, overall the interior doesn't woo me. Creature comforts include heated seats with three settings and tilting/sliding moonroof. Second row climate controls and full DVD entertainment system. The optional third row is nicely designed; the right or left seat pops up separately so the system is flexible and easy to use. No automatic rear liftgate. The vehicle has been branded repeatedly on the exterior – count them – nine times with hybrid paraphernalia. A bit ostentatious for my taste; the response for this was usually snide.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Tahoe is equipped with anti-lock brakes, their stability control system called Stabilitrack, remote start, head curtain side-impact air bags, and OnStar Turn-by-Turn navigation – if you get lost, you can speak to a live person who will guide your route. GM backs the Tahoe Hybrid with a 3-year/36,000 mile limited warranty and a 5-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty

Cost Issues: The $56,500 is a chunk to swallow – one that turns out to be an investment, as far as depreciating assets go. In Consumer Report's calculations, if you evaluate a five-year cost of ownership, you save thousands on gas ($4,500) and receive a tax rebate ($2,200); overall you'll save $1,500 versus say a Lexus GS 450h Hybrid that ends up putting you $5,500 in the red. If you do the long-term math, only a handful of hybrids really do save you money; the Saturn Vue Greenline Hybrid, another GM product, saves consumers $3,000 using the five-year ownership averaging.

Activity & Performance Ability: It's a weighty vehicle with the 4-wheel drive able to tow 6,000 pounds. Turning radius was convenient (better than expected). The ride is controlled and smooth; the brakes take some getting used to. The shifter placed on the steering wheel is a little sticky.

The Green Concern: While it's commendable to put a hybrid system in a large SUV, keep in mind the new powertrain isn't making leaps and bounds with gas conservation. The EPA Green Vehicle Guide gives all Tahoe Hybrids an across-the-board score of 6 out of 10 concerning reduction of air pollution and greenhouse gases. The Green Car Journal – a magazine – awarded the Tahoe Hybrid as its 2008 Green Car of the Year.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The Chevy Tahoe is for families who are comfortable with a more traditional SUV-shape but looking to alleviate all the gas-consumption guilt. The V8 engine still holds impressive power while the two-mode hybrid transmission really does retain 20-mpg.

Katrina's Car Tips For Women Drivers
2010 and 2009 Model Reviews
2008 Model Reviews

MORE: Chevrolet Specs, Comparisons and Prices - Chevrolet Buyers Guide

2008 Katrina Ramser