Tahoe Hybrid SUV named 'Green Car of Year'
The winner of a coveted environmental award is... a full-sized SUV? GM's new hybrid impresses judges with efficiency.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The winner of this year's Green Car of the Year doesn't look a thing like the award's past winners. It's a full-sized SUV.
General Motors' (Charts, Fortune 500) Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid took home the 2008 award from the Green Car Journal for its outstanding gas mileage compared to its competitors, the magazine said the Thursday.
"This is a milestone in many respects," said Green Car Journal editor Ron Cogan in a statement. "People don't think 'green' when SUVs are concerned, and for generally good reason since SUVs often get poor fuel economy compared to most other vehicles. Chevrolet's Tahoe Hybrid changes this dynamic with a fuel efficiency improvement of up to 30 percent compared to similar vehicles equipped with a standard V-8."
In the city, where many SUVs spend the bulk of their time, the 6.0 liter two-mode Hybrid achieves 50 percent better fuel economy than a standard Tahoe with a 5.3-liter V-8. The Tahoe's 21 mpg in the city is the same as the city rating for the four-cylinder Toyota Camry.
Invited jurors in the competition included Carroll Shelby, Jay Leno, Carl Pope (Sierra Club), Christopher Flavin (Worldwatch Institute), Jonathan Lash (World Resources Institute) and Jean-Michel Cousteau (Ocean Futures Society).
Other nominees for the award this year included the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, Mazda (Charts) Tribute Hybrid, Nissan (Charts) Altima Hybrid, and the Saturn Aura Hybrid. Both the Malibu and Aura use a "mild hybrid" system designed by GM that saves less fuel, but costs less, than more robust hybrid systems. The Mazda Tribute Hybrid is a version of the Ford Escape hybrid SUV. The Altima is a hybrid sedan that uses hybrid equipment licensed from Toyota.