The American consumer seriously loves trucks and large SUVs. To me, they are the harbingers of good times, and the gateway to hauling bikes, boats and RVs that make life so rewarding. But what I don’t like about trucks is their thirsty, gas-guzzling demeanor. There’s nothing that sucks the joy out of interstate travel quicker than watching the gas pump spin up to $100.00 and then stop before the tank is even full. Whereupon you must start the refueling process all over again, maybe with even with another credit card.
Before testing some of them, I used to think that diesel-powered trucks were the answer – but experience has shown this isn’t necessarily the case. The reason is that diesel fuel is inexplicably not thrifty – it can cost 10 percent more than regular gas, which offsets the potential fuel-mileage advantage that premium-priced diesel vehicles offer in the first place.
Which brings us to hybrid trucks and SUVs. It’s true that they are more expensive and complex than a comparable gasoline or diesel vehicle, but hybrid powertrains do offer a way out of the terrible-fuel-economy bind that truck owners often find themselves stuck in. This is a major selling point when considering loading up the SUV for a family outing or a solo trip to your fishing hole.
Given the sheer number of electronic and mechanical systems at work in the 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, I would be far more comfortable owning a brand-new one than a model that’s fresh out of warranty. Perhaps in this case, leasing might be a good alternative so that, two or three years down the road, you’ll have gained clarity about whether you actually like to drive this big hybrid, or whether you’re just counting the days until you can turn it in.
The 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid stretches your interpretation of big SUVs. It can whisper along on battery power alone, or roar with V8 muscle; its well-calibrated EVT transmission offers stepless operation or can be shifted like a four-speed in manual mode; and the gasoline engine cycles on and off depending on need. The takeaway is that this is a complex vehicle, with numerous operating systems tied together to provide an effective overall package.
With an MSRP of $56,845, the 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid costs $8,020 or 16-percent more than a gasoline Tahoe LT 4WD. Given its 33-percent better city fuel economy, for those who drive a lot – especially in the city where hybrids make the most sense – this may be worthwhile if you keep your vehicles a long time. In simple terms, if you drive 12,000 miles a year, it will take 10 years to recover the cost of the Tahoe Hybrid’s higher MSRP compared to its gasoline counterpart.
But the selection of a hybrid vehicle often honors other elements, such as the “I’m doing the right thing” factor, enjoying tax breaks, or perhaps getting to use HOV freeway lanes. Whatever rationale wins in the case of the 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, we expect that its customer base will be affluent enough to absorb the higher purchase or lease cost while they’re enjoying the savings at the pump. The rest of the logic, as they say, is personal.