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Zero to 60: 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
Zero to 60: 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

by J.T. Hills
SGN Contributing Writer

TOP

  • First full-sized hybrid SUV
  • Stylish appearance
  • High-end interior fit and finish


BOTTOM

  • Third row doesnt fold flat into cargo area
  • Road handling feels a bit detached
  • Premium price for hybrid technology

In 2007 the Chevrolet Tahoe was completely redesigned with new exterior styling, more refined interior, greater fuel efficiency, increased horsepower, and improved driving feel. For the 2008 model year, Chevrolet introduced a hybrid version of the extremely popular full-sized Tahoe. The 2009 model is largely unchanged from the previous year. Minor additions include OnStar 8.0 with turn-by-turn navigation and destination download, Bluetooth connectivity, and adjustable pedals. After a week with the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD Hybrid, Ive compiled a brass-tacks list of highly technical scientific data based upon observations, experimentation, tabulations, inspections and so forth. Here we go:

I want to be green, yet tow a 7,300 lb boat with six other friends and their luggage

The 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid solves an important dilemma for many people that want to help contribute to a healthy planet, save money on gasoline, yet lead an active lifestyle that takes them up to the mountains, out to the sound, or just carrying a lot of people  things that cant be accomplished very successfully with, lets say, a Toyota Prius. The Tahoe Hybrid 4WD uses a two-mode hybrid system to improve gas mileage up to 50 percent in the city over the non-hybrid version, accomplishing an EPA rating of 20 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. This is significantly better than, not only the non-hybrid Tahoe, but also smaller non-hybrid full-sized, mid-sized, and compact SUVs and crossovers  of which there is a long list. The Chevy system provides electronic-only power at low speed, early fuel cutoff during deceleration, and combines electric power with the 6.0-liter V8 engine when needed for acceleration.

I actually had to do quite a bit of driving for work during my week with the Tahoe Hybrid and I was extremely impressed. During my first day I had to take a ferry to Bremerton to go up to Silverdale, then drive down to Olympia, and then back up to Lynnwood, and then back to downtown Seattle. I did it all on just a little over a quarter-tank of gas. I was impressed. With the hybrid, the Tahoe really shows its best results in gas mileage in stop and go traffic, and in Seattle, theres a lot. Out on the freeway it behaves like, well, it behaves like the big full-sized SUV that it is. I enjoy driving full-sized SUVs because I like the view that it gives over the road, but handling, well, its not an ML55. The big 6.0-liter, 332-hp V8 is powerful, and has plenty of torque. Youre not going to win any drag races, though. Also you can take heart in the fact that even though youre driving a full-sized SUV, Chevrolet has taken the opportunity to place big hybrid logos all over the car, so you wont get flipped off for driving a gas-guzzler.

The interior of the Tahoe is extremely well done, with excellent fit and finish. The use of materials and the ergonomics of the design are all high-end. With the hybrid option, Chevy chose the standard options. The Tahoe Hybrid comes standard with Navigation system, Bose sound system, rearview camera, and leather heated seats. The test vehicle came with a second- and third-row bench seating configuration with seating for up to nine people  notice I didnt say adults, because the third row is really only comfortable for small children. Also, one big miss with the 2007 redesign is that the third row doesnt fold flat into the cargo bed. The seats fold down, but it really doesnt do anything for extra cargo space, so you really have to take them out of the SUV to make the space useful.

OK, for a before-tax price of $55,585, what do you get?

The 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD Tahoe comes with a long list of standard options that are usually expensive upgrades on many of its competitors. A quick look at the favorites includes:

Performance

  • 6.0-liter 332-hp Vortec V8
  • Two-mode hybrid transmission
  • Hybrid propulsion electric w/300 volt energy storage system
  • Smooth ride suspension
  • Autotrac transfer case
  • Locking rear differential
  • Heavy duty trailering equipment

Safety

  • Airbags, dual front, rear curtain, all seating rows
  • Anti-lock braking system
  • Stabilitrak stability control
  • Remote vehicle start
  • Tire pressure monitoring system
  • Ultrasonic rear park assist
  • Rearview backup camera

Comfort and Convenience

  • Navigation system with touch screen CD/MP3/AM/AM/XM satellite
  • OnStar 8.0 with turn-by-turn navigation and destination download
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Bose premium sound system
  • Rear audio controls
  • Tri-zone climate control
  • Heated leather seats
  • Power rear liftgate

Options

  • Rear seat entertainment system ($1,295)
  • Power sliding sunroof ($995)
  • Destination and delivery ($900)

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