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You'll Like The 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid If...

If you have a number of children, tow a boat or horse trailer and like the feel of a substantial V8-powered vehicle, the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe could be just the ticket. Another plus: The Tahoe’s powerful V8 engines offer Active Fuel Management technology and many are E85-ready.

You May Not Like The 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid If...

Our one quibble with the Tahoe is the necessity to remove and store the third-row seats to gain maximum cargo room. But the new seats are easier to handle and come in two- and three-passenger configurations.

What's New

A new six-speed automatic transmission is made standard on all models, as is a removable third-row seat. New options include a 6.2-liter V8 on LTZ trims, two different rearview camera choices, the Side Blind Zone Alert system and Bluetooth hands-free cell-phone connectivity.

Interior Features

The 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe has definitely moved up a notch or two when it comes to interior refinement and luxury, as befitting a vehicle that can cost $40,000 or more. Leading the list of features is the clever power-release fold-and-tumble second-row seat. This makes gaining access to the third row of seating as simple as pushing a button, as the seat immediately folds out of your way. Heated second-row seats are also available (why make the kids second-class citizens?), and other niceties include sonar-based rear parking assist, rearview camera parking assist and touchscreen-operated navigation system. The instrument panel with LED backlighting is fit for a luxury sedan.

Exterior Features

The face of the Chevrolet Tahoe is its most distinctive exterior feature. The latest design features a twin-port horizontal grille with a bold Chevrolet "bow tie" in the center. The flared fenders, power bulge on the hood and large wheels and tires (up to 20 inches in diameter) speak to an understated but substantial presence on the road. The steeply-angled windshield, wraparound fascia and faired-in headlights help contribute to a best-in-segment 0.363 coefficient of drag, which translates into enhanced fuel economy. Even though the Tahoe is both long (202 inches) and wide (79 inches), it is still easy to handle and park.

Driving Impressions

GM’s latest full-size SUV platform gives the 2009 Tahoe a markedly better ride-and-handling combination than previous-generation models. The fully-boxed frame (for more chassis stiffness), coil-over-shock front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering result in a surprisingly maneuverable and tractable vehicle. We were also struck by the Tahoe’s quiet cabin and its inviting, upscale interior. The 5.3-liter V8 with Active Fuel Management puts its 320 horsepower right at your command thanks to a wide torque curve, and you never notice when the engine switches between eight- and four-cylinder operation. By using this technical wizardry, the two-wheel-drive version of the Tahoe achieves a 20-mpg EPA highway mileage rating, which is best in the class. The two-wheel-drive Tahoe LT with the HD towing package and 6.2-liter V8 is tow-rated at 8,400 pounds, while the four-wheel-drive version is rated at a stout 8,200 pounds. We also praise the fact that Chevrolet has made its StabiliTrak electronic stability control system standard on the Tahoe, because it is potentially life-saving technology that can significantly reduce single-vehicle accidents. Additional new safety features include roof-mounted head-curtain side-impact airbags with rollover protection.

Pricing Notes

The Chevrolet Tahoe LS Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts over $36,000, which includes a long list of standard equipment. The top-of-the-line four-wheel-drive LTZ model features a FlexFuel V8 and has an MSRP starting around $52,000, with the Hybrid slightly above that. A slowdown in SUV sales means it may be possible to get a good deal on the 2009 Tahoe. We advise that you check the Fair Purchase Price to see the typical price consumers are paying now. As the segment sales leader, the Tahoe offers outstanding resale value, much higher than the projected residual values for the Dodge Durango, Ford Expedition and Nissan Armada and about on par with the Toyota Sequoia.

Notable Equipment

There are four trim levels – LS, LT, LTZ and Hybrid, with the LT level further divided into LT1, LT2 and LT3 – and that means the vehicle can be configured from well-equipped to super-luxurious. Even the LS model includes dual-zone manual air conditioning, anti-lock brakes (ABS), cruise control, head-curtain side-impact airbags, six-way power driver’s seat, StabiliTrak stability control system, third-row seat and tire-pressure monitoring system. The LT group adds (depending upon LT1, LT2 or LT3) tri-zone automatic air conditioning, power-adjustable pedals, remote vehicle starter, leather seats, audio system with six-disc CD changer and MP3 capability, ultrasonic rear parking assist and universal garage door opener. Stepping up to the LTZ trim adds 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, heated and cooled 12-way memory front seats, heated second-row seats with power release, heated windshield-washer fluid system, locking rear differential, power liftgate, Bose Surround Sound speakers, RainSense intermittent front wipers and Autoride rear air-assisted load-leveling.

Notable Options

The three trim levels should allow you to get the equipment level you need, but the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe can also be "optioned up" in a wide variety of ways. Among key options are an engine-block heater, cross rails for the standard luggage rack (to make it functional), rear-seat entertainment center with DVD player, roof-mounted head-curtain airbags, Z71 Off-Road Package, FlexFuel E85-capable engines, Bose premium nine-speaker sound system, Side Blind Zone Alert System, 20-inch chrome wheels, rearview camera system and a navigation system and radio that includes CD, MP3 and XM NavTraffic compatibility. A choice of two- and four-wheel-drive models and a variety of axle ratios are also offered.

Favorite Features

Smooth, Quiet RideWith its new frame, suspension and steering system – plus additional sound dampening – the Tahoe offers a luxury-car-like ride.Active Fuel ManagementHelping you have your cake and eat it too; the Active Fuel Management system, which cuts the operation of four cylinders when they are unneeded, enhances fuel economy.

Under the Hood

While we expect the 4.8-liter V8 to be more than adequate for most driving, we recommend either the 5.3-liter or 6.2-liter V8 engine. They offer significantly more power and torque (pulling force) with very little penalty in fuel economy. 4.8-liter V8295 horsepower @ 5600 rpm305 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19 5.3-liter V8320 horsepower @ 5200 rpm340 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20(2WD), 14/19 (4WD)5.3-liter V8 Flex-fuel320 horsepower @ 5200 rpm340 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD, gasoline), 10/15 (2WD, E85), 14/20 (4WD,gasoline), 10/15 (4WD, E85)6.0-liter V8 Hybrid332 horsepower @ 5100 rpm367 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4100 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/22 (2WD), 20/20 (4WD)6.2-litre V8395 horsepower @ 5600 rpm417 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4300 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19 (2WD, gasoline), 10/14 (2WD, E85), 12/19 (4WD, gasoline), 9/14 (4WD, E85)

Editors' Notes

The 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe continues to be one of the best full-size SUV values on the market. Despite rising fuel costs and slowing sales, those who simply cannot do without the Tahoe’s capability will find much to like, including a hybrid model with city fuel economy ratings in the low to mid 20’s. As the bestselling full-size SUV since the previous redesign in 2001, the Tahoe has long had a lot going for it, including top rankings in the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Survey. Despite the slightly conservative exterior styling, the Tahoe is still handsome, and its ride quality and overall responsiveness have never been better.

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