2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
January 4, 2009

Without compromising the capabilities—or comfort—of a full-size SUV, the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid makes a very green statement and cuts your fuel bills by up to a third.

TheCarConnection.com's editors and SUV enthusiasts drove the new Tahoe Hybrid in order to give you an expert opinion. TheCarConnection.com also researched available road tests on the new Tahoe Hybrid to produce this conclusive review and to help you find the truth where other car reviews might differ.

One of the most notable aspects of the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is that it has the same basic appearance and capabilities as the non-hybrid, V-8-powered Tahoe. The Tahoe Hybrid benefits from an advanced two-mode hybrid system combining an electric motor system with a conventional V-8 engine. It involves no special skill set compared to the standard Tahoe; simply climb in, turn the key, choose a gear, and drive. You'll also go up to 50 percent farther on a gallon of gas.

The 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid has a look that might be mistaken for one of the other Tahoe models except for subtle badging, along with an aerodynamically refined exterior. Inside, the Tahoe Hybrid is equipped much like the premium Tahoe LTZ, but the instrument panel is unique, as are the lightweight leather-trimmed front seats.

The Chevy is capable of running up to 32 mph on only electric power, so don’t be surprised if the engine doesn’t start. That so-called full-hybrid operation is a feature that brings especially good fuel economy in town. By achieving EPA fuel economy ratings of 21 mpg city and 22 mpg highway for the two-wheel-drive model, the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid takes small sips compared to the 5.3-liter V-8 in the standard Tahoe, which guzzles 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. The Tahoe Hybrid's mileage nearly equals that of mid-size sedans in real-world city driving.

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All of this economy does not compromise the Tahoe Hybrid’s 6,000-pound towing capacity, and there is an abundance of power and extra torque from the twin electric motors propelling this full-size SUV. When the Tahoe Hybrid runs on battery power, it can be eerily quiet, but as you get used to it, other vehicles seem loud. The advanced powertrain of the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid combines a specially outfitted 332-horsepower 6.0-liter V-8 with what looks like a regular automatic transmission. The two electric motors combine with the four-speed automatic transmission. The technology (codeveloped with BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Chrysler) works well, and the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid drives beautifully.

Rest assured that the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid includes all the goodness that comes with the standard Chevy Tahoe model. New standard features on the 2009 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid bring more of a high-tech feel to the package inside; they include adjustable power pedals, Bluetooth connectivity, OnStar 8.0 with Stolen Vehicle Slow Down, XM Satellite Radio with new real-time NavTraffic feature, turn-by-turn navigation, and Destination Download.

Chevrolet does charge a premium—approximately $5,000—for the Tahoe Hybrid. As such (depending on the greatly fluctuating price of gas), it could take more than five years of driving to recoup that expense. This premium is even harder to swallow considering the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid suffers from some of the same issues as the standard Chevy Tahoe, such as a cramped third-row seat. However, the editors of TheCarConnection.com anticipate a much more impressive resale value for the Tahoe Hybrid compared to other full-size SUVs, especially in times of high gas prices.

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