I wanted to start this review off by stating how much I really like the current Chevrolet Tahoe. As far as larger body on frame SUV’s go, I like it a lot. When I received word I would have a Tahoe Hybrid to review, my first thought was how interesting it would be. Since I like the regular Tahoe, would I like the hybrid? After a week, lets dive in and find out.
The exterior of the current Tahoe is terrific. Changes were necessary in many areas on the exterior for the Hybrid model. These changes were for improvements to aerodynamics, which include a different grille, new lower air dam which is much lower to the ground, slight sculpting in the rear rocker panels and other little things. The wheels are also a different design, and are wrapped in low rolling resistance tires. The Tahoe is a sharp vehicle but the lower front air dam on the hybrid looks somewhat awkward to me. The lower ground clearance in the front meant I scraped the front end on a few driveway entrances. This is a full-size SUV in which I can scrape the bottom front air dam on a driveway entrance. That somewhat bothered me! I also like the non-hybrid grilles slightly better. Other then the front end and wheels, you will not notice a huge difference between the hybrid and regular Tahoe aside from the hybrid badges. Though I am not a huge fan of all the necessary aerodynamic changes, the Tahoe is still a looker and the hybrid model is not that much worse.
I also like the interior of the regular Tahoe and not many changes were made for the hybrid. The battery pack resides under the second row of seats. They can tumble fully forward. The third row tumbles forward but does not fold flat like the current generation Ford Expedition and can be fully removed, but they are not light. Make sure you do not have a bad back! Also make sure you have somewhere to store them. The front seats are very comfortable and will be easy to take a long road trip with. The navigation unit is still disc based and the resolution on the particular unit in this Tahoe hybrid had a somewhat fuzzy aspect to it. The words and everything just did not seem as crisp as other units I have seen from GM of the same variety. You do have a hybrid mode screen where you can see exactly what is happening with the powertrain. I found that,while it was cool, ultimately I would rather have the navigation map up or the radio station presets. I found that to be more useful. The gauge cluster has plenty of information to inform you what mode you are running in and how much power is coming from where. The rest of the interior is standard Tahoe, which is nice – however a power lift gate on a SUV with this price tag would not be a lot to ask for. Not to mention the lack of telescoping steering wheel! Overall, the interior is a nice place to spend your time, but small changes could be made to enhance it.
The powertrain is a 6.0 liter Vortec V8 with active fuel management, along with two 60 kilowatt electric motors. This was a four-wheel drive model, so the power can be pushed to the rear wheels or all four depending on the mode. The transmission is a “2-mode” system that was developed in collaboration with Daimler and BMW. The transmission essentially works in two modes, one in the city at speeds below 40 miles per hour an one at speeds above 40 miles per hour. Essentially one is a city mode and one is a highway mode. They are trying to maximize both conditions with less compromises. It is a somewhat unique approach, seeing as most hybrids do not focus on highway mileage as much as city mileage. I was highly impressed with the overall system. The switching between battery and gasoline, as well as the combination of both, was very smooth. I noticed the engine was operating in four-cylinder mode a lot more often then the Silverado I recently had with active fuel management. This tells me that the settings are much more aggressive due to the battery and electric motor assistance. The EPA rates the mileage at 21/22 mpg. I saw an average of 19.6 mpg in mixed city driving.
The total bill for this Tahoe after options and everything was $56,810 including destination. The only two options on this particular vehicle was the entertainment/destination package which was $2,390 and the red jewel tintcoat paint for $395. Many features that are optional on non-hybrid models or that you need to upgrade trim levels for normally, are standard on the hybrid model – including the navigation package. The base price for the Tahoe Hybrid with four wheel drive is $53,525.
So at the end of the week, did I like the Tahoe hybrid as much as I like the Tahoe? The reality of it is that the powertrain and driving experience is much more seamless and refined then I imagined it would be. I was highly impressed in that regard. The bottom line, if you are in the market for a full-size (body on frame) SUV and care about the environment mileage numbers, then the Tahoe Hybrid delivers on the promise of better fuel economy with a refined hybrid experience.
Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors