2008 SUV of the Year - Chevy Tahoe Hybrid
by Martha Hindes
The "sport" in sport utility vehicle is no accident. These sturdy commandos of on- and off-road driving are definitely purpose built. They go where lesser travelers might find themselves mired in mud or hung up on errant branches in the way. They create their own pathways when called upon. However, they can also brush themselves off and do civilized driving duty when needed.
In reviewing SUVs, the ICOTY jury put them to the test, demanding that they provide a well-rounded cache of capabilities, as well as looks, features and durability. Our winning 2008 ICOTY Most Resourceful SUV winner added something extra for 2008. The Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, a blend of gasoline engine enhanced with electric motors, treads in a more earth-friendly manner as the only hybrid winner.
Chevy Tahoe Hybrid
It must have been heart-breaking recently for true full-size SUV fans to watch the gauge click off dollar after dollar when filling up with gasoline. Not to worry, SUV aficinados. Now you can have your indulgence and enjoy it too. The gas-stingy Chevy Tahoe Hybrid comes with a special "two-mode" powerplant combining two electric motors and a regular-fuel gasoline powered engine. That mixed medium, plus active fuel management and regenerative braking, help the Tahoe get about the same miles per gallon as a much smaller auto (21 city/22 highway in two-wheel-drive).
Vehicle amenities don't suffer from the change in power source. Expected goodies including navigation systems are there. Also, the Tahoe's screen shows the gasoline engine's on-off function while driving on electricity alone. Some styling changes â€” an extended rear spoiler, more air flow for cooling, no tow hook and tapered running boards â€” improve aerodynamics while more aluminum reduces fuel consuming weight. Base pricing runs about $49,590. However, Chevy warranties battery life for eight years or 100,000 miles. Best of all, this "green" truck is self-contained and doesn't need a power plug to charge up.
Land Rover LR2
It could be a tough act to follow. Land Rover has a reputation for rock solid, off-road vehicles that can accomplishing impossible tasks like scaling mountains and fording rivers. With the new LR2, Land Rover adds luxurious experience to these off-road champions. Unlike some hunkier SUVs, the LR2 is a "right" size version that can traverse untamed territory, but also feel right at home in the super market parking lot. It is luxury in strength with a powerful 3.2-liter inline six and "CommandShift" gearing for extra control when needed. It's aggression muted by sophistication with a polished ride, stadium seating, keyless starter, rain sensing wipers and chiseled stylng. There's no doubt the new LR2 is all Land Rover, and worthy of an honorable mention.
Mercedes-Benz ML320 CDI
Big news from Mercedes-Benz is the recent expansion of diesels vehicles for the American market. The ICOTY jury wanted to highlight the entrance of the ML320 CDI diesel version of the company's M Class sport utility to this market.
Mercedes-Benz credits itself with developing a vehicle that puts a soft touch on sport utilities without robbing them of their inherent capability to tough it out. Diesel designation adds a new generation "common rail" V-6 for smoother driving, more power and lower exhaust emissions. An upcoming BLUETEC exhaust cleaning system, when added, will allow its sale in all 50 states.