Driving the streets around my home in South Orange County, California I truly felt at home driving the 2010 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid because I saw myself coming and going in traffic every 30 seconds. Seemingly every family in “The O.C.” owns a Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon or Cadillac Escalade with the only difference in my case being the fact that I have no children to haul in this awesome family hauler besides my dog Daisy Mae.
So why is this SUV so popular with families? Well, I like to call it “The Goldilocks Effect.” If you need a 7 or 8 passenger full sized SUV you can look at the much too small Dodge Durango or the oppressively corpulent Toyota Sequoia. The 2010 Sequoia is so ridiculously huge that to my eyes it looks like nothing short of a morbidly obese circus clown. But the Chevy Tahoe is “just right” in size. Hence, “The Goldilocks Effect.”
The exterior of my Ruby Red (not the real name) Chevy Tahoe Hybrid tester got plenty of complements from people in supermarket parking lots and really gave made this supersized SUV look smaller than it really is. The blocky, angular styling may be simple but it really works and makes this SUV just as appealing to male or female buyers. Much of the Tahoe’s continuing sales success lies in the fact that this truly is a timeless piece of styling.
Interior Styling, Features and Build Quality
GM has made leaps and bounds with the quality of their interior materials from the feel of the headlamp knob to the high quality inner door handles. The leather is plush and feels purposely designed to withstand any damage your family can cause over many years of ownership. Plastics aren’t exactly Audi-plush but they are probably a lot easier to clean when Junior spills his juice box.
One vital, family friendly option in my tester was the excellent rear seat DVD entertainment system that comes with two headphones. Hopefully you can buy more headphones, however, as my tester seats 8 people and no doubt everyone in the back will want to be able to hear what’s going on while watching the latest “Spongebob Squarepants” video. He’s still popular right? I have no idea. Or if your kids are older maybe they will be more into “Hannah Montana” videos featuring the diabolically evil mini-mogul Miley Cyrus.
Although $56,000 is a large chunk of change, this full size 8-passenger SUV came with leather, navigation, XM satellite radio, aux-input jack, sunroof, dual-zone climate control, a multi-setting 4WD system, 18 inch alloy wheels, an awe inspiring Bose audio system, On-Star, remote vehicle start (so you can heat up the car on cold mornings—utterly irrelevant in Southern California), rear seat air conditioning controls, Bluetooth, back-up camera and pretty much any other toy you can imagine. This really is a fully loaded SUV with a very advanced powertrain so the price is justified. But always be on the lookout for a sale at your local Chevy dealer.
Driving Impressions and Economy
Make no mistake about it, the 2010 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid is one honkin’ SUV. If you want dainty then go buy one of those sissy Crossovers. The ride can be a bit truck-like over expansion joints on the freeway but it remains very composed and comfortable on long drives. It reminded me very much of the old school station wagons that my parents used to drive me around in when I was a child only with a much higher view of the road.
The steering, however, is much different than those station wagons of yore in that it actually offers sufficient feel and can even afford a bit of driving fun. You won’t be taking your Chevy Tahoe Hybrid to the race track but it can dance on a curvy road when the situation calls for it. Braking power is progressive, strong and stopping distances impressively short.
I will just come out and say it. Usually, I hate hybrids. I don’t trust them as far as I can throw their malfunctioning computer hardware. But I really loved the hybrid system in the Chevy Tahoe because it was so seamless. It also had a stop/start system that turns the engine off at stop lights that actually works better than the one in the 2010 Toyota Prius.
The Chevy Tahoe Hybrid can work in full electric mode at low engine speeds and then at freeway speeds it acts like a mini-turbocharger giving the gas engine a serious boost during passing maneuvers. The effect is truly impressive and unless you turn the Navigation/Bose Stereo head unit to the “Hybrid” function screen you will never know it’s there.
Except instead of getting 13 miles per gallon like my brother does in his gas powered Yukon Denali you will average about 21 miles per gallon. That is the same gas mileage my personal V6 powered (and much lighter) 2006 Acura TL gets. Very impressive, indeed.
How Family Friendly Is It?
Barring the dreaded minivan, there really is no more family friendly SUV than the 2010 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid. The only issue I have with the car is that the third row seats do not fold into the floor and are heavy to remove. If Chevy fixed this one issue with the vehicle it would be darn near perfect. With the third row removed, there is ample cargo room and makes a great riding spot for canine family members. Do be aware, however, that the Tahoe is high off the ground so if your dog is older you may need to invest in a folding ramp so he or she can get in gracefully.
Given the hefty size and weight of the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, its efficiency is very impressive especially considering the power on hand. You will never feel like you are driving an underpowered vehicle (try saying that about any other hybrid) when driving this version of the Tahoe. But no matter if you buy the Hybrid version or any of the other 2010 Chevy Tahoe variants, you will find that this is the full size SUV that is “just right.”
2010 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid 4WD
Base Price: $53,535
Price as Tested: $56,310
Options: Rear Seat DVD Entertainment, Sunroof, 1-year XM Satellite Radio
Engine: 6.0 liter V8/electric hybrid
Output: 332 horsepower/367 lb. feet of torque
Tow Rating: 6,200 pounds
Economy: 21 city/22 Highway
Maximum Cargo Volume: 108.9 cubic feet
0-60: 8.5 seconds
Warranty: 8 years/100,000 miles on hybrid components
5 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty (transferrable to second owner)
3 year/36,000 mile bumper to bumper