Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid  (Source: Autoblog)

  (Source: Autoblog)
GM's full-size dual-mode hybrids crack the 20MPG barrier

DailyTech reported back in mid-March that GM had begun early production on its Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon full-size hybrid SUVs. The dual-mode hybrid system, which GM says is superior to Toyota’s single-mode Hybrid Synergy Drive, uses mode one for city driving and mode two for highway driving.

GM's dual-mode hybrid system can accomplish all the feats of the Toyota system -- internal combustion engine (ICE) turned off while idle, electric-only propulsion at low speeds, electric/ICE propulsion during heavy acceleration and regenerative braking -- but also adds the ability to improve highway fuel economy by using two electric motors, two continuously variable transmission (CVT) modes along with a four-speed automatic transmission and cylinder deactivation.

In addition, all of the electric motor mechanicals are housed within the transmission, so no additional space needs to be occupied for those components.

Variants of the dual-mode hybrid system will be used in vehicles from Chrysler and BMW.

GM's current ICE-only Tahoes and Yukons are rated at 14MPG/20MPG for 2WD models and 14MPG/19MPG for 4WD models. Today, we’ve learned that the use of the dual-mode hybrid system boosts those figures to 21MPG/22MPG and 20MPG/20MPG respectively under the EPA’s new testing methodology.

Those are pretty impressive number for a 322 HP/367 lb-ft vehicle that is approaching 6,000 pounds -- especially the city numbers. Despite added complexity added by the dual-mode hybrid system, the two SUVs can still feature a 6,200 pound towing capacity.

According to Autoblog, GM was able to offset the weight gain of the electric motors and batteries by using aluminum for various body panels, lighter wheels, and thinner seats. The system also doesn't take away from passenger space as the battery pack is located under the second-row seats.

There is no official pricing available for the hybrid Tahoes and Yukons, but expect for pricing to start in the mid-$40k range.

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