Tahoe hev tested 18 mpge vs 15/21mpge of 4WD Tahoe ice

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Tahoe hev tested 18 mpge vs 15/21mpge of 4WD Tahoe ice

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A technical marvel, but mpge doesn't reflect the hybrid sophistication

[image] Chevrolet Tahoe proves hybrid technology not just for cars
by Steven Cole Smith  Jun 27 2011

[image  (Chevrolet / June 27, 2011)
We averaged 18 mpg in our test of the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid]

... Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, bigger, heavier
hybrids like the full-sized Chevrolet Tahoe SUV just haven't gotten
the traction with the buying public that their smaller, thriftier
hybrid cousins have.

There's one main reason: Hybrid technology on a smaller car like the
Prius or the Ford Fusion Hybrid can come close to doubling fuel
economy over non-hybrid model. No such luck with a huge SUV like our
5,835-pound four-wheel-drive Tahoe Hybrid: The EPA rates it at 20 mpg
city, 23 mpg highway. Which is certainly an improvement over the
15/21mpg rating of a non-hybrid, four-wheel-drive Tahoe, but for the
average consumer, it isn't that substantial. Especially since I've
never been able to average the 21 mpg that the EPA and Chevrolet says
I should in the Tahoe Hybrid -- more like 19 mpg.

This is not to say there is anything wrong with the Tahoe Hybrid,
because there isn't. It's an engineering marvel, with literally
dozens of clever, often bold improvements designed to improve
mileage without sacrificing -- well, anything. The Tahoe Hybrid tows
less than its non-hybrid counterpart, but will still haul 5,900
pounds for the four-wheel-drive model, 6,200 for two-wheel-drive.
And that's plenty for the vast majority of towing needs. You still
have three rows of seats, though with that third row in place, there
is only a rather vertical 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space -- if you
need more, fold down the rearmost seat.

Otherwise, the hybrid technology -- to oversimplify, two electric
motors, powered by a 300-volt battery pack concealed under the
second-row seat, helping out the 6.0-liter V-8 engine -- delivers
excellent acceleration. The complex automatic transmission works
flawlessly. The ride is smooth, quiet and sure. The optional
four-wheel-drive system works well, but is limited off-road by
light, smaller tires and wheels chosen for their weight -- the
tires aren't that good in the mud.

The more stop-and-go driving you do, the more the hybrid system
helps. The battery pack can propel the Tahoe on electricity alone
up to 30 mph. It also allows the engine to shut down at stoplights,
 and even when decelerating. And it continues to power the electric
air conditioning, so you won't get hot like you will in some other
hybrids when the engine shuts down. The Tahoe Hybrid's V-8 gas
engine also has cylinder deactivation technology -- it can run on as
few as four cylinders when power from the other four cylinders isn't

There are also other, more subtle changes to aid economy. Lighter
seats, for instance. Better aerodynamics up front, including a
slick-looking front spoiler. Even the rear brake lights are designed
to help cut wind resistance, and use LED bulbs, which use less
electricity. Brakes are "regenerative," meaning that they generate
electricity to recharge the batteries as you stop. Often these
hybrid regenerative brakes have a weird feel -- the hybrid Tahoe's

And you might think that there's a big price penalty for the Tahoe
Hybrid, and really, there isn't. Yes, the test vehicle listed for
$56,840, but it was loaded -- leather seats, rear-seat entertainment
system, navigation system, a fine Bose sound system. In fact, you
can add enough options to a non-hybrid Tahoe LTZ model to eclipse the
test Tahoe Hybrid's price..

The Tahoe Hybrid, and its twin, the GMC Yukon Hybrid, have been
around since late 2009, so the technology is proven. I wish it got
30 mpg, but it will likely be a long time until we see any
full-sized SUV that weighs nearly three tons approach that figure --
maybe when we do, it will be a variation of the plug-in hybrid
system GM uses on the Chevrolet Volt, perhaps mated to a diesel
engine. It can be done. But until someone does it, this is a very
appealing placeholder.

2011 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
Base price: $53,950
Price as tested: $56,840
EPA rating: 20 miles per gallon city driving, 23 mpg highway
Engine: 6.0-liter, 332-horsepower V-8, aided by two electric motors
Transmission: Automatic
Wheelbase: 116 inches
Length: 202 inches ...
[© 2011, Orlando Sentinel]