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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
plenty of muscle when it's needed
Kelley Blue Book
charged to 60 mph in just over eight seconds
Car and Driver
improved throttle response in passing situations
it rolls around in corners and it is cumbersome in parking lots
The 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid offers better acceleration, braking performance, and fuel efficiency than the standard Tahoe.
For the 2009 model year, a 332-horsepower 6.0-liter small-block V-8 engine and powerful twin electric motors power the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. Car and Driver finds the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid "charged to 60 mph in just over eight seconds." In other reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, passing performance is an aspect of the hybrid Tahoe that receives praise. Edmunds contends "the hybrid has improved throttle response in passing situations" compared to the standard Tahoe.
According to Kelley Blue Book, the 2009 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid has "plenty of muscle when it's needed" and "can tow up to 6,200 pounds." Chevrolet equips the Tahoe Hybrid's engine with Active Fuel Management that cuts fuel flow to half the cylinders in low-load situations such as when cruising or braking. The vehicle is also able to operate solely on electric power at speeds of up to 32 mph, provided sufficient charge is available from the hybrid battery pack located under the second-row seats. The 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid's sophisticated powertrain not only improves fuel efficiency but also allows for faster acceleration from 0-60 than the standard Tahoe, while still rated to tow 6,200 pounds (2WD models).
The 2009 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid features one of Chevrolet’s most noteworthy transmissions. Kelley Blue Book says "the shift between electric power and the gasoline engine is seamless, as is the Active Fuel Management's switch from eight cylinders to four." Popular Mechanics reports, "Aside from the battery pack and [engine], the two-mode [propulsion] system is located almost entirely in the transmission housing. Through a complex computer-controlled ballet, the system decides which combination of engine...electric motors and gears should be applied for optimal fuel economy." Kelley Blue Book notes that the "two powerful electric motors...add additional torque when required and can move the Hybrid without the engine's assistance."
One fact worth pointing out comes from Automobile, which states, "GM's two-mode transmission doesn't include a reverse gear." Only the electric motors provide reverse, so if the battery is low, one would have to wait for the battery to recharge before backing up. According to Car and Driver, "the transmission has four fixed ratios, which are selected when the electric motors are needed to charge the batteries or when towing heavy loads" in addition to a continuously variable transmission combined in one transmission housing. Each of the four fixed-gear ratios may be selected manually for engine braking or power holding.
Multiple reviews read by TheCarConnection.com editors reveal fluctuating real-world fuel mileage. Kelley Blue Book is able to attain 22.7 mpg in stop-and-go driving only by "feathering the throttle and keeping our speed below 30 miles per hour." Car and Driver averages in a 4WD model "a respectable 18 mpg over a 250-mile weekend.” According to fueleconomy.gov, the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid 2009 EPA estimates are 21 mpg city and 22 mpg highway for 2WD models and 20 mpg city and highway for 4WD models. Edmunds states, "The marginal bump in fuel economy will improve your sense of social responsibility more than it will your carbon footprint."
The 2009 Tahoe Hybrid handles exactly how you’d expect of a vehicle this size and weight. Edmunds says the 2009 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid "handles about the same as the standard Tahoe." Cars.com finds "it rolls around in corners and it is cumbersome in parking lots,” and Car and Driver reports that the "electric power steering is light on effort and even lighter on feel." The light steering probably doesn't help improve its handling.
Opinions of ride quality are mixed. Cars.com thinks the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid has "a rather stiff, truck-like ride," while ForbesAutos attests, "A responsive suspension delivers a fairly smooth ride with relatively composed handling." Braking is partially frictional and partially regenerative, which feeds the 300-volt hybrid battery. "The hybrid comes to a stop from 60 mph in 132 feet," says Edmunds, "as good or better than any full-size SUV we've tested." In fact, Popular Mechanics finds "the brakes are stronger and quicker to respond than those on a normal Tahoe."
While the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid doesn’t handle as well as the standard Chevy Tahoe, it beats the nonhybrid Tahoe in both acceleration and fuel efficiency.