Dan Neil - Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jun 17, 2008.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The Tahoe Hybrid is smart, smooth and strong, but it's a lot of vehicle for a little environmental progress.

    [​IMG]

    By DAN NEIL
    December 26, 2007

    The Chevy Tahoe Hybrid is as provocative and political a vehicle as you'll see this year. Why, it's practically a polemic. And those are just the "P's."

    By way of a fantastic exertion of technology and human capital -- which I hereby honor and praise even as I question them as misallocated -- GM has managed to give one of its behemoth SUVs marginally better fuel economy. Here are the relevant data points: The two-mode hybrid Tahoe returns an EPA estimated fuel economy of 21 miles per gallon in the city, 22 mpg highway; the 4x4 version gets an even 20/20, city/highway. The company and its various choristers -- such as the Green Car Journal, which recently named the Tahoe Hybrid "Green Car of the Year" -- are pleased to point out that represents up to a 50% improvement of in-city fuel economy over the non-hybrid Tahoe.

    The objectors have rebelled against the symbolism of the thing. It might be half-again better, but it's still an awful, blot-out-the-sun SUV. Isn't this like putting handlebar tassles on the wingtips of a 767 jet?

    I had a chance to spend a couple of days in the Tahoe Hybrid; in fact, I believe the vehicle I drove was the same one that appeared on the show stand at the recent L.A. auto show -- white, with gold "Hybrid" decals along the scuppers. People have accused Prius owners of being ostentatiously green, but the badge-barnacled Tahoe Hybrid might as well have roof-mounted green emergency lights and a "Green Green!" whoop siren.

    So, what's it like? For sheer execution, you can do nothing but throw rose petals at the thing. The engine starts instantly -- as you would too if you were goosed with a 300-volt battery pack -- and falls into a serene idle. Once the gas engine reaches operating temperature, it will shut down during low speed/load conditions, and if you feather the accelerator just right you can make the Tahoe Hybrid sluice along at up to 30 mph in all-electric mode, just a 5,700-pound Prius. The vehicle's two honking 60 kW traction motors (wrapped around the transmission) are primarily responsible for the uptick in around-town mileage.

    As in Toyota's familiar hybrids, the gas engine looks for opportunities to shut itself down, such as when the vehicle is coasting, braking or stopped. Likewise, the system exploits the otherwise-lost kinetic energy of the drivetrain during coasting and braking, with the traction motors switching polarity to become generators, helping to pump up the traction battery.

    GM has made a fair amount of bubbles calling it a "two-mode" system, though I'm not clear even now what the two modes are. I count three: electric only; gas only; and/or gas-electric, in which the operating system constantly ciphers the fuel-saving optimum between the engine's contribution and the electric motor's. If you wanted to send a congratulatory case of beer to anybody at GM, address it to the software writers -- whose ka-jillion lines of code keep the engine, transmission, batteries and motors in a constant state of reification. Spare a six-pack for the transmission's designers, for it is the transmission -- with its three planetary gearsets, two integrated motors (with their own reduction gears) and various other hardy fitments -- that allow the Tahoe to tow 6,200 pounds, a tonnage that would fatally herniate a Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

    Put the power down and the 5,700-pound SUV goes like a rear-ended boxcar: The combined output of engine and motors is a romping 332 hp and 367 pound-feet of torque, much of it arriving with boot-in-the-pants authority in the low rpm range.

    What's astonishing in even a cursory round-the-block test drive is the seamlessness, the absence of shudder or second-order vibrations, with which all this heavy-duty machinery goes about its business. I know Lexus makes big V8 hybrids, but we're talking a GM 6.0-liter V8 that comes on with all the drama of an indicator light.

    Behind the wheel, the Tahoe Hybrid has the cues of a regular Tahoe, including a cabin the size of a handball court. Here and there are signs of a light-weighting program undertaken to counteract the added hardware and batteries: The upholstery is thinner and lighter (the second and third rows still fold flat into the cargo floor). The Hybrid makes use of loads of alloys, including lightweight wheels, aluminum hood and liftgate. Stretching the mileage a bit further, the Hybrid uses low-rolling resistance tires. These will not, I repeat, not get you over the Donner Pass in winter.

    You want an astonishing number? The Hybrid's aerodynamic efficiency -- coefficient of drag -- is a slippery 0.34 Cd, compared to 0.39 Cd for the standard Tahoe. Not bad for a vehicle that looks like a refugee from the shipping yard at Long Beach.

    Meanwhile, the Vortec V8 employs what GM calls active cylinder management -- other companies call it cylinder deactivation -- that chills out four cylinders when demand is light and reactivates them as demand increases. All of this has to play in a complex computer contrapuntal melody with the transmission, battery and motor controls. And all of it does.

    So isn't this champagne-popping territory? Yes, no. . . . Could I ask some inconvenient questions?

    First, what would the mileage of this vehicle be with all the improved aerodynamics, low-rolling resistance tires and aluminum body panels, yet without the fretful weight (and cost) of the hybrid system? What is the cost-benefit ratio of the hybrid system apart from these improvements? And shouldn't the improvements be standard issue?

    It's hard to tell exactly what the "hybrid premium" is on the Tahoe Hybrid (MSRP of $50,490) but it looks to be, at a minimum, $8,000. That's a huge lump. One argument to celebrate this technology is that it could be mainstreamed into the hundreds of thousands of full-size trucks and SUVs GM sells. But how realistic is that? Does this super-low-volume program do more for corporate image than corporate average fuel economy?

    What is this program's budget? How does it compare to GM's ad budget that crows about the program? The word is greenwashing.

    Diesel?

    Are we coming in at the middle of the play? Perhaps the problem with judging the Tahoe Hybrid harshly -- it does seem absurd on the face of it -- is that we don't know, or little appreciate, the larger plan at work. Perhaps GM means what it says when announcing that the company plans to electrify personal transportation, and has tackled the biggest challenge first: putting its most fuel-thirsty products on a gasoline diet. Could it be we're being cynical about a good-faith effort?

    What really needs to be re-engineered, of course, is the consumer, who opts for these big, heavy-duty vehicles for personal transportation and light loading when smaller, lighter vehicles will do (I assure you, people, you don't need a Suburban to trailer your 300-pound dirt bikes). This is a contentious issue, since Americans feel they should be able to drive whatever they can afford, disregarding the fact that the sky -- and our collective debt of foreign oil -- is part of the public commons. The recent revision of CAFE standards helps, but there are plenty of people who regard any attempt to regulate the vehicle fleet as Kremlin-esque social engineering.

    For now, we have this paradox, a fantastically fuel-efficient vehicle that's still a gas hog. A hybrid that's simultaneously good (promise) and bad (reality). Matters can only get more muddled when the Hybrid Hummer comes rolling out.

    Final thoughts: Chartreuse car of the year?

    [​IMG]
     
  2. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    ugh I wanna slap that author.
     
  3. Meph

    Meph itchy trigga finga niggas

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    I don't think GM was aiming to get better highway mileage out of that truck when they decided to go hybrid. The fact that it gets 21 MPG for in-city driving is absolutely amazing. Especially when you consider how many people out there have kids, campers, boats, jet skis, etc. and want to have a safe truck that can haul their toys, and still get good gas mileage when they're sitting in traffic or driving through the city going to work every day.
     
  4. popsnbeer

    popsnbeer New Member

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    but it's still only 21 mpg. that's what....$0.20 cents a mile still?

    Fuck that, especially for the price tag. It's a good step, i guess, but GM is still way behind in this department. At least it helps them with their marketing campaign.
     
  5. IHAVECRABS

    IHAVECRABS Diversity is our strength. LOLOL

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    :ugh: fucking LA times is a pile of liberal shit.

    some people need an suv...its not an evil 'sun blotter'

    and LOL @ anyone who believes in human influenced global loling - i mean global warming anyway.
     
  6. squid

    squid braap

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    I thought it was a good article :dunno:

    That lower air dam is going to get destroyed rather quickly though, wonder what effect that would have on economy.

    Now if they'd just make an Avalanche version..
     
  7. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    you are full of so much shit. Name another vehicle of similar size, in the same class, that has similar power and similar capabilities (4x4, towing, etc) There is NOTHING that comes even close to this vehicle in terms of fuel economy in this class. It my be "only 21mpg" but it's still a huge achievment.
     
  8. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    You can argue the merits of this colossal hybrid all day long but in the end there's virtually zero buyers for this vehicle. GM has pretty much failed to sell any meaningful number of these things despite being on the market for months.

    On top of that truck and SUV sales are in a literal freefall. Sure, some people will always need them but apparently those that do were a fraction of the new market for them.
     
  9. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    i think truck/suv sales are in freefall because people simply arn't buy cars like they used to. People I know that were buying new vehicles every couple years are now holding onto their current vehicles longer. The economy is poor, and that means people are not going to continually flip their $40k suvs. That doesn't make them bad, evil, or unneccessary.
     
  10. popsnbeer

    popsnbeer New Member

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    fair enough. I can't say that you are lying. Considering the vehicle, weight, tow ratings, etc., it's really not a bad equation.

    However, for the price of the vehicle, it still does not make much sense to purchase, unless you are buying it for the environment and not the pump savings.

    And yes...it is still embarassing that none of us (including GM) have had the forthought to see/plan for this day coming.

    I guess you could at least consider this a step in the right direction...but we are nowhere where we should/need to be.

    21mpg in 2008 is embarassing on any account.

    **Plus...I have seen some of these Hybrid Tahoes driving around here, and it's still soccer mom in the drivers seat. I don't want to be presumptious, but I doubt that she was on the way to pick up her horse trailer at the ranch, or her boat at the marina...if they even have those, they saved them for the 2500 diesel that the husband drives (I only say this because I see it on multiple occasions). I don't really care too much about them owning it if they can afford it, but to say that 21mpg :bowdown: is amazing is just ludicrous.**

    my 2cents.

    cliffs: allthatshit.jpg
     
  11. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    more of the same b.s. in your posts.

    I respect the tahoe hybrid based solely on it being a huge middle finger to whining fuckheads in priuses. I want one just to park in hybrid-only spots to piss people off.

    What doesn't make sense is for me to own two vehicles, one for economy, and one for actually doing shit. Between payments, insurance, storage, maintenance, etc.... it still makes sense for most people to buy the bigger, more functional vehicle and pay a premium on fuel.

    You say that 21mpg is embarassing, but that's a bullshit statement. For what that vehicle is, it's damn impressive. You don't want it, don't buy it. But giving people that DO want/need a big vehicle something that does 50% better fuel economy without losing capability and that's an acheivment.

    By your bullshit it seems you think everyone should drive smart-cars. that's just fucking socialism.
     
  12. popsnbeer

    popsnbeer New Member

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    LOL :lmao:

    I have a meeting...but I'll be back ;)
     
  13. squid

    squid braap

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    You're on crack. Name one vehicle that has the same broad range of abilities and still manages anything close to 21 city. Name one vehicle that's achieved a 40% increase in mileage in one model year. Your argument is baseless...no, it's never going to get Prius numbers, but you seem to forget that its' not a Prius. You can't tow a boat with a Prius, nor can you take 7 people down a fire road in one.
     
  14. popsnbeer

    popsnbeer New Member

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    agreed that a 40% increase in one model year is great. But at what expense? Why is it that we are only now breaking 20mpg with a full size SUV?

    I think you guys are skewing what I am trying to bring up. 21mpg in this year is ridiculous to think is a good thing...regardless of vehicle. Trucks and SUV's were getting the same gas mileage in the 1980's that they still get today. Sure they are more refined and have extra cupholders/nav systems/cameras/onStar/blow up doll, but why the hell was the fuel economy forgotten in this massive breakout of new technologies? Did the country not whine enough about gas prices? (I think we complained enough). Was it too much work and money for them to pursue? (probably). Not any single company wanted to pursue this avenue and finally now that it costs people more in gas than it does to rent their apartment are things being done about it.

    Call me an idealist, but this is ridiculous.

    I do have a question though...What kind of gas mileage does that SUV get when it tows the boat, or hauls down a fire road? It is my understanding that there must be very little stress on the engine in order for it to use some of the multi cylinder displacement.

    Nonetheless...I think we are finally on the right track, but why has it taken so long?

    I don't need to name one vehicle that has the "broad range of abilities" that the Tahoe does. We have all been bred to believe that this is a good thing...but all it does is showcase where we could have been 10 years ago.

    My rant is over. Believe what you want, disregard what you don't (probably all of it). Either way, I think it's a very capable vehicle that is at least a small step in the right direction.
     
  15. squid

    squid braap

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    You fail at basic physics.
     
  16. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    wow just when you thought you had an idea of just how stupid popsnbeer was, he makes another post :o
     
  17. popsnbeer

    popsnbeer New Member

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    :rofl: People like you guys are the reason that there is no hope for auto reform any time soon.

    Continue to believe that the auto manufactuers are doing a great job, continue to get raped by gas prices, find cheap/fast 'solutions' that have an instant gratification rather than a lasting solution.

    I'll see you out there on the roads ;)
     
  18. squid

    squid braap

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    F=MA. It's pretty simple.

    I can't believe I'm arguing with someone that actually thinks there should be no difference in energy usage between a Fit and a Tahoe.
     
  19. DrK_Mrk_iV

    DrK_Mrk_iV OT Supporter

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    My 66 Mustang get's better gas mileage than that breast.

    Hybrid SUV... It's an oxymoron.
     
  20. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    um, no. It is a SUV and it is a Hybrid.
     
  21. popsnbeer

    popsnbeer New Member

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    lol. This goes to show that you are not even listening to what I am saying. Continue on with your closed mind and your horrible assumptions.
     
  22. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    no I'm right there with him. you're blabbering on about how it doesn't get mileage like a small, aerodynamic vehicle that seats fewer people, can't tow, and has a small engine.

    Apples to Zebras.
     
  23. squid

    squid braap

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    You didn't say a fuckin' thing, you just disregarded all the facts of the situation and threw out a bunch of unsubstantiated opinions with no facts to back anything up.
     
  24. squid

    squid braap

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    Freudian slip of the month right there :bowrofl: Awesome :rofl:
     
  25. popsnbeer

    popsnbeer New Member

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    1990 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 4x4 w/ 5.7 V8

    Fuel
    Fuel Tank Capacity: 37 gal.

    EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway)
    Automatic: : 12 mpg / 16 mpg

    Range in Miles: (City/Highway)
    Automatic: 444 mi. / 592 mi.




    Performance
    Base Number of Cylinders: 8
    Base Engine Size: 5.7 liters
    Base Engine Type: V8
    Horsepower: 210 hp
    Max Horsepower: 4000 rpm
    Torque: 300 ft-lbs.
    Max Torque: 2800 rpm
    Maximum Payload: 3520 lbs.
    Drive Type: 4WD
    Turning Circle: 46.9 ft.



    1999 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 4x4 w/ 5.7 V8

    Fuel Tank Capacity: 42 gal.

    EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway)
    Automatic: : 14 mpg / 18 mpg

    Range in Miles: (City/Highway)
    Automatic: 588 mi. / 756 mi.



    Performance
    Acceleration (0-60 mph): 10.3 sec.
    Braking Distance (60-0 mph): 156 ft.
    Road Holding Index: .67 g
    Base Number of Cylinders: 8
    Base Engine Size: 5.7 liters
    Base Engine Type: V8
    Horsepower: 255 hp
    Max Horsepower: 4600 rpm
    Torque: 330 ft-lbs.
    Max Torque: 2800 rpm
    Maximum Payload: 1980 lbs.
    Maximum Towing Capacity: 7000 lbs.
    Drive Type: 4WD
    Turning Circle: 44.7 ft.


    2008 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 4x4 w/ 5.3 V8

    Fuel
    Fuel Tank Capacity: 31 gal.

    EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway)
    Automatic: : 14 mpg / 19 mpg

    Range in Miles: (City/Highway)
    Automatic: 434 mi. / 589 mi.



    Performance
    Base Number of Cylinders: 8
    Base Engine Size: 5.3 liters
    Base Engine Type: V8
    Horsepower: 310 hp
    Max Horsepower: 5200 rpm
    Torque: 335 ft-lbs.
    Max Torque: 4400 rpm
    Maximum Payload: 1657 lbs.
    Maximum Towing Capacity: 8000 lbs.
    Drive Type: 4WD
    Turning Circle: 43 ft.



    2008 GMC Yukon XL Denali 1500 AWD w/ 6.2 V8

    Fuel
    Fuel Tank Capacity: 31 gal.

    EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway)
    Automatic: : 12 mpg / 18 mpg

    Range in Miles: (City/Highway)
    Automatic: 372 mi. / 558 mi.



    Performance
    Base Number of Cylinders: 8
    Base Engine Size: 6.2 liters
    Base Engine Type: V8
    Horsepower: 380 hp
    Max Horsepower: 5500 rpm
    Torque: 417 ft-lbs.
    Max Torque: 4400 rpm
    Maximum Payload: 1562 lbs.
    Maximum Towing Capacity: 7800 lbs.
    Drive Type: AWD
    Turning Circle: 43 ft.



    2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid w/ 6.0 V8

    2WD gets 21/22 MPG city/hwy respectively

    4x4 gets 20/20 MPG city/hwy respectively
     

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