Monster hybrid

Posted on 06 Dec 2007 at 6:34pm
By Casey Williams – Auto Reviewer

Attention SUV-hating eco-warriors: Chevy knows that two modes are better than one



ENVIRO IMPROVEMENT: The 2008 Tahoe Hybrid hugs mother Earth.

If you own a Chevy Tahoe, nobody has to tell about the vehicle’s greatness. As the best-selling full-size SUV, it is to SUVs what the Toyota Camry is to mid-size sedans. Unfortunately, it happens to be a member of the tribe that most often hits the crosshairs of environmentalists. I can’t wait to see how they rectify the first Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid.

Everybody knows that hybrids deliver outstanding fuel economy. The first one I ever drove was the future-aero two-seat Honda Insight that delivered about 60 miles per gallon I drove it all week and never once thought about a gas station. Life was good except the Insight only held two people, had limited luggage space, drove like a Mazda Miata on roller skates and preferred leisurely acceleration. Pulling a trailer was out of the question. That was before the two-mode hybrid.

In partnership with BMW and DaimlerChrysler (before the “unmarriage”), GM developed a hybrid system that changes modes to be efficient both in city and highway driving. At low speeds, or unloaded, the Tahoe Hybrid can run on electric power alone, with gasoline alone, or with a combination of both. It saves fuel by shutting off the gas engine often and even running short distances on batteries. At higher speeds or when pulling heavy loads, the vehicle uses its big eight-cylinder engine, full battery power, and changes cam phasing and valve closure to optimize performance. Regenerative braking helps charge the batteries during deceleration.

Besides a robust electric system to save fuel, the Tahoe Hybrid’s 6.0-litre V8 engine can shut down four cylinders during low power situations. Fully stoked, the big powerplant generates 332 horsepower and 367 lb.-ft. of torque, connected to the wheels through a continuously variable transmission. With all power engaged, the Tahoe Hybrid can tow up to 6,200 lbs. and achieve 21/22-mpg city/highway, or about 25 percent better than a regular Tahoe.

On first glance, you might not realize there is anything special about the Tahoe Hybrid. It doesn’t part traffic like a Toyota Prius. The Tahoe has a stealth-like sipper vibe, like the Saturn Aura Green Line or Ford Escape Hybrid.

Looking closer, you’ll notice lightweight 18″ wheels, a lower front bumper, rear spoiler, smoother front edges, 10 mm lower ride height, and a larger front air intake to better cool the hybrid system. Tail lamps and the rear D-pillar were sharpened to improve airflow and reduce turbulence. A closeout panel at the rear also helps part ways with the wind. Hybrid logos appear on the C-pillar, rear hatch and trailer hitch cover.

Inside, only an energy tracker mode on the touch screen and a badge in the instrument panel hints at anything special. That’s not to say the Tahoe’s interior isn’t anything special. Like regular editions, it contains comfortable leather seats, side curtain airbags, tire pressure monitors, automatic climate control, rear parking sensors, heated seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, DVD entertainment and easy to read analog gauges. Woodgrain and metallic dash trim looks as elegant as in a Cadillac Escalade. Up to nine people fit in three rows of seats definitely not the cramped cabin of a Honda Insight.

You can tell by reading the fuel economy ratings above that the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid is no fuel-sipping compact car. However, behind most hybrids, you can’t move a herd of people, tow motorcycles or transport horses. What GM has accomplished is a large vehicle that does big things while getting 25 percent overall better fuel-economy. For most SUV buyers, that will be a very good thing. Give Mother Earth a big hug and take her to the lake with your speedboat. Buy a Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. Expect prices to begin around $40,000 when the Arlington-built SUV begins arriving in showrooms this fall.

Tahoe Hybrid STATS

Accommodates: Six-nine passenger.
Powertrain: 332-HP 6.0-litre V8,
Suspension f/r: Ind./Live axle.
Wheels: 18″/18″ f/r.
Brakes: Regen. 4-wheel ABS discs.
Must-have features: Power, economy.
Towing capacity: 6,200 lbs.
Fuel economy: 21/22-MPG city/hwy.
Assembly: Arlington, Texas.
Base price (est): $40,000.



DRIVER’S SEAT

Who: Tracy Nanthavongsa, aka Trey Cruz.
Occupation: Extreme blogger, entrepreneur.
Why are you famous in the gay community? For my blog, TreyCruz.com.
Current car: 2000 BMW 232i, black.
Purchased from which dealer? Ummm the BMW store?
Were you a tough negotiator? Heck yeah, I was a tough negotiator: Bend over, bitch!
How much did you settle on? I got the car for $28,000 after financing instead of the $34,000 before financing, which would have been a bitch to pay off.
Insurance agent: The one with the cute gecko! Isn’t he so adorable?? And ooh la la, that accent.
Monthly insurance rate: I really don’t know. It’s whatever amount they deduct from my bank account.
Why this car? Because this fag likes it luxurious. Plus, I’ve wanted a Beamer ever since I was younger.
Favorite feature: The butt warmers. They’re almost like a girl’s vibrator, but hotter.

BEAMER-BOY BLOGGER: Trey Cruz cruises in a 232i. (DANIEL A. KUSNER/Dallas Voice)

Anything interesting in your glove box? I used to keep condoms in there. That is until my health professor informed me that the lubricants tend to melt off the condom or something like that.
Car nicknames: I used to have one until my mom called me a fag for using it. Now I can’t even remember. And I’m emotionally scarred for life.
Previous vehicles: I owned a Toyota (UK) Rav4, and thankfully, a TXU Energy truck ran into me.
Average weekly fuel expenses: About $80.
Do you merge well with other drivers? Yes I do. They always seem to open up for me.
Ever been naked in your car? Does road-head count?
How often do you wash your car? I use to wash my car crazy like three times a week. Now she gets dirty, and I really don’t care. I know when it’s time to wash when I start seeing finger writing saying “Wash me, ho”. I swear my car’s alive.

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