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Cars of Summer: Wedding Bells for the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

For most people, summer is driving season – day trips, road trips, drives to the beach, festivals, fairs, visiting friends and commuting in the bright sunshine. This summer, U.S. News is putting the cars we test through their summer paces and giving you tips and advice for making the most of your summer driving. In this installment, the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid heads to a West Virginia farm for a down-home wedding.

Since the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is not a vehicle that’s particularly tailored toward being a city runabout, I was glad to take it to a family wedding in West Virginia.

When I got to the wedding, family and friends asked what I was driving and were impressed when I told them I had a hybrid. But the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid is definitely no Toyota Prius or Chevrolet Volt. Mentioning that my gas mileage in mixed driving averaged 19.6 mpg earned confused looks from people who expected a number in the 30s or 40s. But, I told them, give the Tahoe some slack. This hybrid is one of the most fuel-efficient affordable large SUVs I’ve driven.

The biggest surprise I encountered was that, for being an eight-seat family vehicle, this behemoth wasn’t very kid-friendly. Even though the running boards help, the step-in height is high, even for 5’7”-me. When installing car seats, I had to climb up into the SUV to reach the LATCH anchors. And taking out the third row was a nightmare, just like it was in the Cadillac Escalade ESV. Our senior editor, Liz Opsitnik, had to help me lift the seat back up to re-install it in the car.

If you’re considering the Tahoe Hybrid because you routinely use all three rows, you should also keep in mind that cargo space with the third row of seats in place is a meager 16.9 cubic feet. I could only fit two paper bags of groceries in that space, which is not enough room for a hungry family of eight.

After having kids, many car shoppers decide to get a bigger vehicle to accommodate strollers, carpoolers and more groceries. But to me, the Tahoe Hybrid felt like it took that up-sizing a step too far. However, as a 23-year-old city-dweller, I’m certainly not Chevrolet’s intended Tahoe target market. So, if you need a three-row SUV with serious off-road capability that’s less thirsty for gas, the Tahoe Hybrid is at least worth a test drive.

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