confuZion3 UltraDork
7/17/08 8:05 a.m.

Does the hybrid system work in a way that is similar to the Prius, or does the engine stay on all the time just to be assisted by the electric motors? I'm glad you guys reviewed it though; I was curious how it would actually perform.

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Marjorie Suddard
Marjorie Suddard General Manager
7/18/08 8:45 a.m.

The answer is: Both. At low speeds, it works like a Prius, with the gasoline engine shutting off and the electric motor taking over when appropriate; at high speeds, the electric motor assists the gas engine to boost mileage and power. The tranny is supposed to "seamlessly" manage this task, and according to other reviews I've read it did, but in our admittedly ill test vehicle it was a rough, lurching experience as the different motors stumbled on and off the stage. At least it was until that final, Game Over lurch.

Also, I can tell you that you do NOT want to be broken down on the side of the road in a hybrid, or at least not one with GIGANTIC "hybrid" decals on the side of it. Everyone who wanders over--and they will wander over, because the ignorant are drawn like moths to its technological challenge--will offer advice. And even offer to help you find a place to "plug in." Not fun.

Curmudgeon MegaDork
7/18/08 3:26 p.m.

You would think that GM could engineer in a 'limp to the shoulder' mode for use if (when) the dino engine quits running.

Tom Heath
Tom Heath UberDork
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

In case you've been sequestered, fuel for internal combustion engines has gotten awfully pricey as of late. Couple the fiscal reality of high fuel costs with the highly fashionable green movement, and even planet-hating tree-killers are looking for ways to reduce their consumption.

However, if you're one of the many who needs the space or towing capacity of a larger vehicle, you're forced to endure both the slings and arrows of public opinion and the burning sensation near your wallet pocket every time you drive.

Thanks to the engineers and product planners at General Motors, however, you can now solve at least one of these problems with their latest iteration of the Chevrolet Tahoe. Under the skin, this Tahoe features not one but two electric motors implemented within the Tahoe's driveline. The truck also features GM's Active Fuel Management to further increase economy.

In person, they have made it abundantly clear that this latest Tahoe features hybrid engine technology. They've pasted Hybrid logos and green “H” badges in eleven highly conspicuous exterior locations, forcing passersby to acknowledge that you're piloting the biggest, if not the greenest, hybrid machine in town.

GM claims that their full-sized truck will realize a 25 percent improvement in fuel economy, giving the Tahoe a fuel economy rating of 21/22. We would have been happy to see those numbers, but our test vehicle ranged from 16-19 miles per gallon during gentle driving, mostly in town. At least we weren't getting the evil eye from our local Greenpeace chapter.

The big truck carries five adults and two children with the level of comfort you would expect from a full-sized SUV, although we could occasionally feel some feedback through the driveline when the hybrid system changed modes. While some of us were willing to deal with this harshness for the good of the planet, others were less forgiving, especially in light of the worse-than-anticipated economy.

Thankfully, the Tahoe Hybrid still carries a 6200-pound towing capacity. While reduced from the conventional Tahoe’s 8200-pound rating, the Hybrid is still capable of towing our race cars. Interestingly, the zero-to-60 time for the hybrid is about half a second quicker than the conventional Tahoe due to the extra oomph that the two electric motors contribute.

Yes, times are changing. It's good to see technology coming to the mass market to help us adjust, but in the end we're not sure this example is done cooking. While the additional content is likely to cost at least as much as the premium between a conventional Tahoe's cost and that of the Hybrid, we weren't able to realize the improvements as we'd hoped. We don't typically drive SUVs unless we're hauling, towing or going off road anyhow, so we had a hard time imagining the situation that would cause us to exclaim, ”Thank God we had the Tahoe Hybrid!”

We look forward to the next generation of Hybrid technology to help us change our minds.

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