Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid SUV receives 2008 Green Car of the Year honor
Lauding its fuel economy—which, according to EPA ratings, rivals that of a four-door sedan in city driving—a panel of jurors selected the Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid to be the Green Car of the Year. The announcement was made Nov. 16 at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
“This is a milestone in many respects,” Green Car Journal Editor and Publisher Ron Cogan said. “People don’t think ‘green’ when SUVs are concerned, and for generally good reason since SUVs often get poor fuel economy compared to most other vehicles. Chevrolet’s Tahoe hybrid changes this dynamic with a fuel-efficiency improvement of up to 30 percent compared to similar vehicles equipped with a standard V-8.”
According to the EPA’s 2008 estimated fuel economy ratings, the 6-liter two-mode hybrid Tahoe achieves 50 percent better fuel economy than a Tahoe powered by a standard 5.3-liter V-8. The Tahoe’s 21-mpg city fuel-efficiency rating is the same as that of the city EPA rating for the four-cylinder Toyota Camry sedan, Green Car Journal noted.
“We’re thrilled to receive this recognition from Green Car Journal for our Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid,” Chevrolet General Manager Ed Peper said. “We’ve felt that the Tahoe hybrid represents the best of both worlds—the great utility you’d expect from a Tahoe with fuel economy on par with today’s mid-size cars. It’s satisfying to receive this validation from such an authority on environmentally friendly vehicles.”
Shelby, Leno among the Green Car jurors
The Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid was selected in a majority vote by a jury of high-profile environmental and industry leaders, along with four Green Car Journal editors. Invited jurors this year included Carroll Shelby, Jay Leno, Carl Pope (Sierra Club), Christopher Flavin (Worldwatch Institute), Jonathan Lash (World Resources Institute) and Jean-Michel Cousteau (Ocean Futures Society).
“GM promised they would use hybrid technology, and use it where it would make the most difference—on their biggest vehicles. They have delivered with the Chevy Tahoe,” said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, pointing out that the Tahoe ends the argument that efficiency and vehicle choice are incompatible.
Pope added that automakers now should make their entire fleets fuel efficient as fast as they can retool.
‘Importance of GM’s accomplishment can’t be overstated’
According to Green Car Journal, the Tahoe hybrid is the industry’s first application of hybrid technology in a full-size SUV. While a few vehicles with V-6 and V-8 engines are offered with hybrid options, most hybrid technology is incorporated into mid-size or smaller vehicles with four-cylinder engines because this is where big fuel economy gains are most readily achieved.
It’s a significant achievement, the magazine pointed out, to achieve meaningful fuel-economy increases on large vehicles that need to be capable of substantial cargo hauling and towing and need larger engines. For instance, the Tahoe hybrid features: seating for up to eight passengers; a 60-cubic-foot cargo volume with the second and third row seats folded; the ability to carry up to 1,400 pounds of cargo; and a tow rating of up to 6,200 pounds.
“The importance of GM’s accomplishment can’t be overstated,” Cogan said. “For years, consumers have been buying SUVs in increasing numbers because of their functionality, making them the No. 1 class of vehicle on the market. The problem has been obvious: With larger vehicles generally comes poorer fuel economy because of greater size and curb weight. An ‘equalizer’ has been needed … and the two-mode hybrid system in the Tahoe is clearly that equalizer.”
Malibu, Tribute, Altima and Aura hybrids were among the nominees
Along with the Tahoe hybrid, 2008 Green Car of the Year nominees included the Chevrolet Malibu hybrid, Mazda Tribute hybrid, Nissan Altima hybrid and the Saturn Aura hybrid. Dozens of 2008 model-year vehicles using all technologies and fuels were considered by the Green Car Journal staff in narrowing down the field to five nominees.
Along with their considerable achievements in raising the bar in environmental performance, each of those making the final cut had to meet the requirement of being on sale and widely available to the public by Jan. 1, 2008. “Newness” also was a factor in the nomination process, with nominees ideally in the earlier phases of their production cycle rather than near the end.
According to Green Car Journal, other factors that weigh in on the decision making include production volume and the likelihood of a candidate vehicle’s environmentally focused technologies leading to further implementation in other vehicles.