What's New for 2010
The 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid receives a standard USB audio port.
For a full-size, truck-based SUV, the 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid has exemplary fuel economy. You can thank the two-mode gas/electric hybrid power plant for that. The two 60-kilowatt electric motors can power the vehicle independently under low-speed, light-load conditions, yielding an unheard-of 21 mpg in urban driving. There's also a 6.0-liter V8 for when full power is needed, and a third-row seat in case you need to carry extra passengers. But here's the question: Is it worth spending more than $50,000 for a Tahoe Hybrid when many three-row crossover SUVs offer superior driving dynamics and competitive fuel economy, often for thousands less?
We suppose the Chevy might be worth the stretch if you plan to tow big, heavy things with your new SUV. With a maximum towing capacity of 6,200 pounds, the Tahoe Hybrid is more capable than many crossovers. It's less capable than a conventional Tahoe, however, which can pull up to 8,400 pounds and starts about $13,000 lower. The regular Tahoe may get 4-5-fewer miles per gallon, but 13 grand buys a lot of gas.
There are also similarly priced diesel-powered three-row crossovers to consider, notably the Audi Q7 TDI and BMW X5 xDrive35d. They only seat seven versus the Chevy's eight, but their third-row seats fold flat for hauling purposes (the Tahoe's need to be removed), even though the Tahoe has far more maximum cargo space. Moreover, their towing capacity and fuel economy are comparable, and they offer vastly superior driving dynamics.
Furthermore, you may want to check out midsize crossovers like the Buick Enclave and Ford Flex, which can't tow as much but offer comparable fuel mileage and versatility. Keep in mind, too, that pretty much any crossover will handle better than the old-school body-on-frame Tahoe. If you rack up lots of miles on city streets and need an SUV that can haul the biggest loads, the 2010 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid may make some sense. Otherwise, we recommend looking elsewhere.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is a full-size SUV available in one trim level. Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, power-adjustable pedals, rear park assist with a rearview camera, power-folding heated side mirrors, tri-zone automatic climate control, a trip computer, a navigation system and a CD stereo with satellite radio and a USB port. Also standard are an auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote engine start, leather upholstery, power front seats, a removable 50/50-split third-row seat, OnStar and a hybrid system display. Optional is a Bose-branded nine-speaker audio system. Other notable options include a sunroof and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2010 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid is a 6.0-liter V8 engine coupled to a pair of 60-kilowatt electric motors located inside what GM calls an electrically variable transmission. Together, they produce 332 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. Both rear-drive and four-wheel-drive versions are offered.
The Tahoe can accelerate to speeds of nearly 30 mph using the electric motors only (though it'll take a light foot and a long time), while the V8's cylinder-deactivation system helps reduce fuel consumption at higher speeds. Regenerative braking replenishes the batteries by capturing energy normally lost when coming to a stop. Fuel economy is 21 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 22 combined for rear-wheel-drive Tahoe Hybrids; 4WD models have a nearly identical rating. Properly equipped, a rear-wheel-drive Tahoe Hybrid can tow 6,200 pounds (the 4WD model can tow 6,000).
Standard safety equipment includes traction control, stability control, OnStar, a rearview camera and full-length side curtain airbags. The 2010 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid scored a perfect five stars in government frontal- and side-impact crash tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Tahoe Hybrid's interior is identical to that of the gas-powered Tahoe, which means it gets the upscale version of GM's truck/SUV interior. Materials are good looking and of generally high quality. The controls are laid out intuitively, and the standard touchscreen navigation system is a breeze to operate.
The Tahoe's standard third row enables it to accommodate up to eight passengers. The 50/50-split third-row seats don't fold flat into the floor, however; they must be removed manually to free up maximum cargo space, and each seat weighs more than 60 pounds. With the third-row seats out of the picture and the second-row seatbacks folded, cargo capacity expands to a whopping 109 cubic feet, making the Tahoe the roomiest hybrid on the market.
The 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is Prius-like in its silent low-speed operation, unless you need to move out quickly, in which case the burbling V8 comes to life. Acceleration is unimpressive, however, despite the solid output rating. Also, the transmission isn't what we'd call responsive; there can be a notable delay when you ask for full power. Handling is about what you'd expect -- safe but ponderous. Most crossovers are notably more carlike from behind the wheel, especially the aforementioned Audi and BMW. The Tahoe's cabin remains fairly quiet at speed, though, and the ride is relatively smooth for a truck-based SUV.