The 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is an eight-passenger hybrid full-size SUV that impresses reviewers with its ability to balance eco-friendly features with hauling capacity.
The interior is well-executed and the cargo area is spacious. However, the price tag is high and the third-row seats must be removed rather than folded into the floor like those of competitors.
For these reasons, some reviewers feel that a crossover SUV may be a better option for most folks. Just one trim level is available, 1HY, with an MSRP of $9,309 — $29,225.
The Tahoe Hybrid uses a two-mode hybrid drive that pairs a 6.0-liter V8 engine with two 60-kilowatt electric motors.
A nickel-metal hydride battery supplies power to the electric motors. The gasoline engine alone generates 332 horsepower; the combined total with the electric motors tops out at 379 horsepower.
A specialized transmission holds the electric motors plus four clutches and three planetary gearsets; this complex system adapts to driving conditions in order to increase efficiency.
The front suspension is coil-over-shock while the rear uses multi-link suspension. Rear-wheel drive comes standard and can tow 6,200 pounds if properly equipped; four-wheel drive is optional and tows 5,900 pounds.
The Tahoe Hybrid boasts a fuel economy rating of 20 mpg city/23 mpg highway for both 4WD and rear-wheel drive.
Standard features include automatic headlights, Daytime Running Lights, heated power side mirrors, running boards, 18-inch aluminum wheels, remote starter, and privacy glass.
On the inside, the Tahoe Hybrid comes with standard tri-zone automatic climate control, a navigation system, split-folding second-row seat, pass-through rear seat, folding removable third-row seat, leather seats, heated front seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear parking assist, and rearview camera, power-adjustable pedals, driver lumbar support, universal home remote, Bluetooth connectivity, voice controls, and a trip computer. A sunroof is optional.
The Tahoe Hybrid features a nine-speaker Bose audio system with CD/MP3 player, satellite radio with three months of the free trial, auxiliary audio input jacks, iPod/USB interface, and rear headphone jacks. A rear DVD entertainment system is optional.
Standard safety devices include stability control, traction control, front airbags, front side airbags, OnStar, Tire Pressure Monitoring System.
On NHTSA tests, the Tahoe Hybrid earned five stars on the frontal and side crash tests and three stars on the rollover test. IIHS test results are not available.
As compared to the gasoline-engine Tahoe, the Tahoe Hybrid features an equally well-designed cabin with a touchscreen trip computer that is specific to the hybrid system.
Information such as battery status and power flow are displayed for passengers to admire. Overall, the controls are straightforward and intuitively positioned.
The third-row seat is functional but awkward to remove. Once it’s out, the Tahoe Hybrid’s cargo capacity is among the largest of any hybrid SUV.
Thanks to the extra weight of the hybrid system, acceleration feels decent but is less than expected given the power ratings.
The electric motors are claimed to drive the Tahoe up to 30 mph alone, but real-world driving conditions reveal a lower top speed.
There’s a shudder when the gasoline engine kicks in or when the regenerative braking system engages, but reviewers state that once you’ve gotten used to the feel, it actually helps you make the most of the regeneration mode.