First Drive: 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe 2-Mode Hybrid (and GMC Yukon, too)

2008chevytahoehybrid

The Chevrolet Tahoe 2-Mode Hybrid is GM’s first full parallel hybrid — meaning the hybrid system can propel the vehicle with an electric motor, a gasoline engine or a combination of the two. That’s the setup that gives many of today's most efficient hybrids their mileage gains. After driving it and its full-size sister SUV, the GMC Yukon Hybrid — and after grilling GM's execs — there don’t appear to be any significant tradeoffs compared to a regular model. That said, the gas mileage is now described only as "up to 25 percent better" than the non-hybrid in mixed driving and up to 40 percent better in the city. That would mean gas mileage around 19.6 mpg in city driving, while the mixed-driving estimate could be as high as 20 mpg. EPA numbers will be released closer to the on-sale date in the fourth quarter of 2007.

The Tahoe may feel even more natural than some other hybrids because it combines fixed transmission gears with the continuously variable nature of a full hybrid. In other words, it shifts just like an automatic transmission, but with some continuously variable changes, too. It moves much like a regular Tahoe — and quickly. 2-Mode combines GM's 6.0-liter V-8 engine with the added oomph of electric motors. Six liters might sound large for a hybrid, but the engine can deactivate four of its cylinders when under light load. Could GM have made the trucks less strong/quick and more efficient? Most likely, and environmentalists are sure to object, but boaters are likely to celebrate.

The 2-Mode name is interesting, but it doesn't seem to have any modes the other major players don't. 2-Mode is almost identical to what's under the hood of, say, the Toyota Prius, Camry Hybrid and the Ford Escape Hybrid. The main differences are that 2-Mode packs all that stuff into a transmission case and retains a four-speed automatic. The most noticeable sign that the truck was a hybrid came from the braking; there's a telltale feel in the pedal when you press it because it’s activating regenerative braking, where the motor/generators use the vehicle's momentum to recharge the battery pack. It takes some acclimation, but this is among the less conspicuous hybrids I've braked.

In addition to that, you also get what the other hybrids have. The engine turns itself off and on when you stop, and there was even a power-flow diagram on the dashboard's LCD screen and some supplemental gauges in the instrument panel. The Tahoe and Yukon are the first hybrids to seat as many as nine people, and you can get two- or four-wheel drive. You give up a few things — like a power liftgate and power-release second-row seats — because they add weight, which hurts efficiency. These trucks are slightly heavier than the non-hybrids, but that's after extensive steps to shave weight. The hood, liftgate and some suspension parts are made of lightweight aluminum rather than steel, the wheels and low-rolling-resistance tires are lighter, and the seats are lighter and thinner, which preserves backseat headroom and legroom even though the battery pack is stored in the floor.

The gas tank is smaller and, thus, lighter, but Chevy says the higher efficiency means the truck's range is the same or a bit greater. It seems like they thought of everything. You lose some maximum payload capacity: roughly 400 pounds, for a 1,426-pound maximum with rear-wheel drive. Trailering capacity comes down 1,300 pounds to 6,200 pounds maximum (2WD) and 2,200 pounds to 6,000 pounds (4WD). GM says the drop isn’t because the drivetrain is too weak, it's because the model's aerodynamic nose treatment won't admit enough cooling air for a heavier load.

GM execs suggest the hybrid won't exceed the price of either model's most-loaded non-hybrid trim level, which is just shy of $40,000 for a Tahoe LTZ 4WD and $49,420 for a Yukon Denali AWD, including destination charges. Whether you consider the sticker price reasonable or not, the tradeoff here is the manufacturer's. A GM vice president said each 2-Mode system costs the automaker about $10,000, and that doesn't include the cost of all those lightweight components and aerodynamic treatments to the nose, undercarriage and rearmost pillars. GM isn't the only company to subsidize — or lose their shirt on — each hybrid sold. The choice of a full-size SUV as their first full hybrid makes sense; it's the vehicle type that needs it the most, and its profit margin is great enough to absorb some of the outrageous technology costs.

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Comments 

pedmac

when will vehicle be available.. ? whom makes the battery packs ?

Wonder if they will do well compared to the prius or more traditional hybrids ..

later this year is all we've heard on the release date.

LM

I predict another flop. Just as RX400h/Highlander/GS450h/Accord/Civic hybrids, it doesn't stand out like the Prius. The Prius screams "eco-friendly". This will not.

If GM created a pure hybrid model that looked like no other model to showcase their technology, they'd have a winner. But they've chosen not to. Having that showcase model propels sales and allows a company to achieve economies of scale allowing the system to be adapted to other models without costing the manufacturer $10,000 a pop.

BIG SUVs are out of favor with the public, and 19mpg will still not cut it.

I don't know LM I think there are a lot of boaters and outdoorspeople who need SUVs to tow and they like the environment. Maybe they'll flock to these and/or it will cut in to the sales of Fords and Dodges. I'm not sure. It will all depend on price but remember if its getting 19 mpg in the city this will have better mpg than any of the new 3 row crossovers on the market.

56

there are alot of people that just cant go without a big SUV. alot of minivans will not fit an entire family of 8, especially if there are a few teenagers in the mix.

FO

"19 mpg wont cut it"

are you kidding? 19 mpg in the city is fonominal for an SUV, especially one that will weigh 3 tons!

Amuro Ray

This isn't really a "why you shouldn't buy a SUV topic," but since you've started it...Fire Away!!

"there are alot of people that just cant go without a big SUV. alot of minivans will not fit an entire family of 8, especially if there are a few teenagers in the mix."

NOT TRUE!!! There are minivans out there who can sit 8 people or even 9, I believe. But the most important part is that - there are a WHOLE lot more people who will buy and drive SUV with only 1 or 2 passengers in the SUV! Many news reports and research (by AAA, insurance companies, interests groups) have reported that people are buying and driving SUV not because they have to, but because they simply want to. As far as "just can't go without a big SUV," how many people will actually have to have 8 people together at the same time - everyday and for an extended period of time (i.e. not just everyday for 1/2 hour or so)? If you do need to have many to sit together occassionally, then go rental!

"19 mpg in the city is fonominal for an SUV, especially one that will weigh 3 tons!"
Now explains to me why you need to drive a 3 ton SUV in the CITY all the time? Though the point of 19 mpg looks good on paper, when city air is already so polluted...19 mpg just doesn't cut the chase there.

Once again, for those who said, "this is my right to buy and drive what you want," your right is under the 1st and foremost basic human needs - to breath in fresh air, and not the air from your exhaust fume; to be able to use conserve oil for other uses at a reasonable price, such as heating, grocery shopping (price affected by oil price). If you want to challenge this, I welcome you to post your address here, and I'll glady ask the gov't to build a waste dump or nuclear power plant right next to you, 'coz after all, it's someone else's right to do whatever he/she/it wants to, without regarding your health or basic needs, right?

Questions

If I remember correctly, 19 MPG in the city is as good as or better than many midsize v6 cars are getting in the city cycle now. So, for a large SUV that can tow my camper and family (remember the Suburban commercial where they had a couple Civics loaded with gear and a boat being towed by nothing) to be as economical at the pumps as a midsize sedan that is an accomplishment.

bowrider

Amura Ray, you make my ass, tired.

This is a great vehicle that supports the demand of the consumer. Demand that is the byproduct of capitalism. Unfortunately, you live in a country that is founded on free market principals. In a free market, societies experience negative externalities. One of these is pollution, which brings me back to the demand proposed by the consumer who lives in the free United States and buys a new Tahoe Hybrid and pollutes the air just like your rented minivan. I think I'll stick to the vehicle that I purchased and choose not to be a Hertz Gold member. And so will thousands of others who purchase Escalades, Expediitions, Tahoes, used Excursions, Armadas, and so on. Save your "green" lecture for sites like moveon.org.

Infosaur

Hot Rodder Alert:

Aluminum bits on Hybrid Tahoes!

Bet they can swap right into the standard Tahoes.

Hello? Chevy Parts department?

Amuro Ray

Bowrider, don't dodge my question there! Your address please?

Because there are some intelligent people out there, who can see beyond the flaws of the supply and demand graph in our economy, you are lucky to have your offsprings to live on this planet for a much longer time. If it's for you, I can definitely see the end of the world coming - not in my generation, but probably much much sooner than I expected.

The flaws of supply and demand - one of the main principle of capitalism- is that - every thing is ASSUMED to be balanced eventually. Unfortunately, that's not the case. If you did take your university economy lecture like I did, the assumption is based on UNLIMITED resources. That's not the case for clean air or petroleium, isn't it? Moreover, there's also a supply & demand of balanced talent - meaning most people will learn everything - from economy to science to arts...well, that's not the case either, is it? What's worst is that, using the principle of supply and demand graph again, there's the assumption that some will be idiots, some are extremely smart, but most will be medium educated due to social status and wealth. Unfortunately, most humans hate hard work, so we've a whole lot more morons than smart people. There will always those that aren't smart enough to see pass their individualism.

You ought to thank those who insist on green movenment, because, without us, you will really be living in a toxic dump right at your own backyard!

myx

Amuro Ray,

Do you own a car? Because the way I see it if you really loved the environment so much you would ride a bicycle or take public transportation. Anyway back to the subject at hand, I think the Hybrid Tahoe/Yukon is a big step in the right direction. I wonder if they will do the Hybrid treatment on the Suburban in the future.

Kyle C.

Amuro Ray probably is some freashmen in college who thinks he knows everything and drives a 98 honda Civic that has a cardboard body kit and a spoiler made out of wood.

The way he talks makes it seem like JUST SUV's and TRUCKS are bad when really there are some CARS and MINIVANS AND CROSSOVERS that get the same mpg and emissions.

Everytime a person brings up a argument with him he babbles on about how we are destoring the earth by using these automoblies. Yet everytime he is proven wrong he ignores the fact and changes subject to try to cover himself.

Amuro ray, I'm still waiting on that 4 cly minivan that can tow 6000lbs. Which one is it?

Amuro ray, Country has free trade people are allowed to choose what they want. Even if it negatively affects others. Under the resrtictions of the law. is there a Law stating that no one should have a truck or SUV? No. Then your argument there is shot down. People in this country will be allowed to untill there is something restricitng such.

Which brings me to my next point.

Amuro Ray,2nd amendment allows Unitied States citizens to keep and bear arms. This is dangerous. This is bad for socitey. but it is allowed because it is a fundemental right. Our laws do not cover all of the basic human needs. Our government does not have the power to guarantee fresh air to everyone. Another Argument shot down.

Amuro ray go to moveon.org they will love you.

ANYWAYS back on topic. I think this will be a hit amoung celebritys who want to show that they are doing their part for the environment (or whatever band wagon they are on this week) and still be able to live life large.

Dan

Kyle C.-

Your posts have a consistent feature.
You need to read:
http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/

Until then, in the words of George Elliot-
"It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

Lee74C3

2008 Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon 2-Mode Hybrid
2008 Saturn Aura Hybrid
2008 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid
2008 Saturn Vue Hybrid

GM is pretty well hitting most market segments. As far as producing full-size SUV Hybrids, keep in mind that Toyota sells almost 25% of their Highlanders as Hybrid models.

You know what? Some people will always complain about SUVs, high performance cars, trucks, etc. thinking their narrow perspective must prevail. It doesn't matter if the majority of consumers disagree.

FThorn

George Elliott. ... Hey, a relative of his contacted me once to meet me. Nice, older man. He thought George and I had something in common. We did, which I won't go into here. But that's not a name you see come up much. I still have that letter, too. Well, I have all my letters.

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