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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
4WD 2010 Chevy Tahoe is fairly quick
Surprisingly maneuverable and tractable vehicle
Kelley Blue Book
low-speed maneuverability is aided by a relatively tight turning circle
The 2010 Tahoe and Hybrid are strong performers, and the Hybrid is a mileage king in its class. A single V-8 engine powers most Tahoes, but in Hybrid models, a bigger V-8 is augmented with electric motors and battery power.
Traditional SUV buyers get a 320-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, a seamless duo that provide steady and smooth acceleration with a hint of muscle car sound. The 5.3-liter has plenty of power to move the big Chevy with authority. On a special XFE edition, a taller final-drive ratio helps boost fuel economy from the usual 14/20 mpg to 15/21 mpg. The engine now sports variable valve timing and E85 flexible-fuel capability, along with cylinder deactivation, which cuts power to half the cylinders in low-engine-load scenarios. Reviews of the Tahoe's engines read by TheCarConnection.com are virtually all positive, and Edmunds states that the "4WD 2010 Chevy Tahoe is fairly quick, getting to 60 mph in just 8.6 seconds." However, Edmunds also notes that "the Tahoe doesn't feel nearly so quick when carrying a full load of passengers or cargo." ConsumerGuide adds that Tahoes "with the 5.3-liter V-8 have fine power from any speed," and they mention that E85 ethanol, which "is available in most states and can be less expensive than regular-grade gasoline," can "be used in versions of the Tahoe with the 5.3-liter V-8."
In the Tahoe Hybrid, GM's version of the Two-Mode Hybrid it pioneered with BMW, Daimler and Chrysler team a big bin full of gears, clutches, gear sets, and generators to give the Tahoe the ability to drive on battery power alone or a blend of gas-generated and electric power. The combination of a 332-hp 6.0-liter V-8 and the hybrid system's batteries and transmission will allow electric-only driving up to 27 mph; beyond that, both the gas engine and electric power are run in parallel, and the gas engine deactivates cylinders to save fuel. The result of all the technology is a large, luxurious SUV with abundant torque that drives beautifully. It cruises quietly, and the low-speed electric mode is quiet enough to be almost eerie. 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." Edmunds contends "the hybrid has improved throttle response in passing situations" compared to the standard Tahoe. All told, the rear-drive Tahoe Hybrid is rated at 21/22 mpg-a 50 percent boost over the standard Tahoe's city fuel economy. Four-wheel-drive models fall to 20/20 mpg. Kelley Blue Book was 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's average in a 4WD model was "a respectable 18 mpg over a 250-mile weekend."
Both the Tahoe and Hybrid can be ordered with rear- or four-wheel drive. The Tahoe offers standard single-ratio four-wheel drive, with a dual-range system available. The Hybrid's system is a more sophisticated, electronically switched system. The big V-8 engines also bring impressive towing capacity to the Chevrolet Tahoe 2010, and Cars.com says that, "when properly configured, the Tahoe can tow up to 8,200 pounds."
All Tahoe models are built on GM's full-size SUV platform that incorporates features such as a fully boxed frame, coil-over-shock front suspension, and rack-and-pinion steering. Car and Driver reports "the engineering tweaks that it received in 2007 went a long way toward improving the ride, structural rigidity, and driving experience," while Kelley Blue Book calls it "a surprisingly maneuverable and tractable vehicle." Edmunds loves the Chevrolet Tahoe 2010's "soft ride" and describes it as "Tahoe's greatest dynamic asset, though the price paid is a somewhat rubbery quality to the steering and handling." The big Tahoe rides smoothly on its coil-spring suspension, but beware that as you move up in wheel and tire size, ride quality suffers. Because of this, TheCarConnection.com vastly prefers the 17-inch and 18-inch tires to the 20-inchers. With the smaller rims, the Tahoe is as responsive as any 5,600-pound vehicle can be and feels much more maneuverable than it should. ConsumerGuide confirms "alert reactions to steering" and that "low-speed maneuverability is aided by a relatively tight turning circle." Furthermore, the "brakes feel strong, but some testers want better pedal modulation."
The Hybrid models have a similar, but particular driving feel. The steering is electrically assisted and almost without real feedback-it's simply an eerie feeling to pull away in the Tahoe without much of a sound. Regenerative braking gives the pedal a bit more resistance and masks some of the braking feel-not something the Tahoe's known for, in any case. It still rides comfortably, but the slight measure of driving satisfaction the Tahoe affords is wiped away by the Hybrid's electronics. Edmunds feels the Hybrid "handles about the same as the standard Tahoe," but 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 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe is surprisingly maneuverable and quick for a vehicle its size; the Hybrid is also swift, but has less steering feel and isn't as responsive.