Tahoe Hybrid Named Green Car of the Year

The 2008 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid SUV has been tapped as the 2008 Green Car of the Year at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Tahoe Hybrid won out over a field of five cars that included the Chevy Malibu Hybrid, the Mazda Tribute Hybrid, the Nissan Altima Hybrid, and the Saturn Aura Hybrid.

The selection of an SUV as the Green Car of the Year holds a certain significance, since it’s an indication that even SUVs can be fuel efficient, say representatives of the Green Car Journal, which organized the competition. Going on sale early in 2008, the Tahoe Hybrid will be available in either two- or four-wheel-drive configurations. EPA-estimated miles per gallon are 21 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway for the two-wheel-drive trims, and 20 mpg for both city and highway driving for the four-wheel-drive trims.

The Tahoe Hybrid achieves that mileage thanks to a 6.0-liter, two-mode hybrid engine. In the first mode, designed for low-speed or light-load driving, the Tahoe Hybrid operates in three ways: on electric power, gas engine power, or a combination of the two. This enables the Tahoe Hybrid to operate for extended periods of time with the gas engine shut off. However, the gas engine is available when extra power is needed, and kicks in automatically and seamlessly. In the second mode, used primarily at highway speeds, the V8 gas engine operates in either four-cylinder or eight-cylinder mode with electric assist to ensure low fuel consumption.

In addition, the Tahoe Hybrid features a lowered suspension and body enhancements, such as a streamlined hood, designed to help improve the SUV’s aerodynamics. The hood and rear liftgate are made of lightweight materials to keep the vehicle’s weight down, and the tires are specially designed to provide lower resistance on the road.

The Tahoe Hybrid was selected by a committee that included automotive great Carroll Shelby, late-night talk show host Jay Leno, and Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, adding to its cache as Green Car of the Year. It’s another indication that the green movement is truly taking hold in the automotive industry.