Big, powerful, and surprisingly efficient
Today I am going to talk about my time spent driving the 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD Hybrid. The Tahoe is a full size SUV that is only slightly smaller than the Suburban, the largest SUV in the Chevrolet fleet. Generally when we talk about a hybrid it is a small car like the Prius, but Chevy has crammed its hybrid system into a big SUV to help those that want to save at the pump and be a bit greener meet that need.
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The 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD Hybrid is a big car with tons of room inside. My test vehicle had a sticker price of $56,430 with the sole option being the $2,390 Sun, Entertainment, and Destination package. That option pack added a rear DVD player hanging from the roof, a power-sliding sunroof, and another 9-months of XM radio. The 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD Hybrid has a 6.0L Vortech V8 with active fuel management, a 2-mode hybrid transmission and a 300V energy storage system. The transfer case is a 2-speed unit.
This big SUV is certainly not likely to see much off-road use. I suspect that most of the 4WD duty this car will ever see will be on slick or icy roads. Part of the hybrid system of this car is a start-stop mode that runs the engine off randomly to save fuel. In the other hybrid vehicle I have driven (which was a Lexus); you couldn't even tell when the ending turned itself off and on while driving. With the big V8 under the hood of the Tahoe Hybrid, you can certainly tell when that happens.
It was honestly a bit annoying when sitting in front of my kids' school and the engine would turn off sporadically. It was smooth enough shutting off, the AC would keep on cooling the car, and the electronics continued to work. However, when the engine came back on the entire car would shudder and shake. More than a few people looked at me wondering exactly what I was doing.
Another gripe I have about the Tahoe line all around is an interior that is a bit underwhelming. The inside of the Tahoe doesn't look like something you would get for over $55,000. The leather is not as high quality looking or feeling as the much cheaper GMC Terrain I tested not too long ago. In fact, the single common thing that every Tahoe that has seen use has had that I have driven or ridden in is leather that simply doesn't hold up. Even this new and relatively low mileage car had leather that felt very dry and cheap. The seats were also surprisingly flat and hard.
Those gripes aside, the interior of the 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD Hybrid has plenty of room. My kids could spread out to avoid those random shouting matches that come with siblings close in age. That said very nice feature for parents. The rear DVD screen has nice resolution and was easy to operate. It also has AUX inputs for game consoles or other additions. The screen is mounted to the roof so when it is down and in use, it does block a lot of the drivers rear visibility. I would rather see the DVD screens be in the headrest of the seats.
Outside the car is undeniably attractive. The huge amount of interior space and the good looks of the vehicle are two main reasons why the Tahoe is all over the place in Texas. My favorite thing is the performance though. The big V8 under the hood will get the massive Tahoe rolling much faster than you think is possible. That giant V8 is the reason these SUVs are being chosen for police work by many cities and states.
Gripes about the comfort and quality of the interior aside, the 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD Hybrid is a very nice vehicle. It has tons of space for hauling people and cargo and looks really good doing it. The hybrid system lets the 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD Hybrid get better fuel economy than such a big SUV with a big motor should. I averaged 20 mpg in mixed city and highway driving with my lead foot.