Hybrid Tahoe Bottom Line: Go for it!
By Karoli on July 25, 2008
Overall, I loved the Tahoe. It was easy to drive, handled great (the turning radius was better than my ancient Honda, a much smaller but not better car). It felt good to drive, and it's clearly been designed with women in mind. Lots of room for cups, kids, and even a DVD player and headset for the kids. Well done.
Things I loved
I loved the OnStar service, even if it did land us on the wrong side of the street. I loved that I could plug my iPod into the aux jack and run my own playlists through the radio. Honestly, I'd much rather do that than have the XM radio, but that's just me. Suebob preferred the XM, I think. I loved the way GM has thoughtfully designed the placement of additional power outlets for computers, iPods, cell phones. I loved the sunroof (and yes, I did drive to the beach with it wide-open and "Born to Be Wild" on the iPod, because I'm kitschy like that). I loved the big seats, the smooth ride, and the nice open console between the passenger and drivers' seats.
Things I mega-loved
The hybrid technology in the Tahoe rocks. Simply rocks. It has engine-switching technology (I know that's not the right term, but it works for me). Basically, there are three modes: Full power is full-bore V8 engine. When some power is needed but not full power, it throttles back to the V-4. And when no engine power is needed, it throttles back to the electric motor. What rocks most is that middle setting (it automatically makes these switches -- you don't have to even think about them). Imagine merging onto the freeway using your V8 power, and cruising on the V4. Instantly, fuel economy doubles. This is the sweet spot that maximizes the hybrid technology and reduces the fuel consumption most, particularly on long hauls. We had no problem with any of the grades, and slid down the other side on the electric motor and V-4.
My other mega-love was the backup camera and parking help -- loved that it beeped to tell me I was too close or it was time to turn the car in to finish the job. I hate parallel parking and that's a BIG vehicle to do it with.
Things I would change
The instrumentation controls and panels were confusing. It must have taken me 30 minutes with the quickstart guide to figure out how to get the display to give me real-time fuel economy feedback. I'd like to see that little display move to the touch screen, get lots bigger, and give more detailed feedback in real time as well as after the fact.
There were buttons literally everywhere -- on the door, the steering wheel, the touch panel, next to the touch panel, the console, even the rear-view mirror! The problem is, the icons were not immediately clear to me. Lots of up and down arrows, lots of multi-use gauge buttons, but still, they reminded me of the sixteen remote controls my husband uses to control the TV altar in the living room.
It takes some time to figure out what they are and how they work. I don't think we ever really mastered the air conditioning controls, but we managed to stay comfortable anyway.
Aesthetically, it's a nice looking vehicle inside and out, with a couple of exceptions. I'd love to see that big ole gear shift on the steering wheel scaled down and redesigned, similar to what has been done in the Prius (think little itty-bitty shift that you control with one finger if you want). That gear shift reminded me of my late grandmother's DeSoto. :)
The seat controls are electronic and manual, in that the seat forward and back is electronic, along with the lumbar support, but the control for the seat back is manual. It's okay, but confusing at first.
With all of that said, the things I really, really like far outweighed the ones I'd change. GM has clearly spent some time and brain power figuring out how to build a hybrid SUV (a BIG one) that a woman can be comfortable driving and confident about safety and comfort.
Well done, GM. Two thumbs up.
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