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Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
Overall mpg: 21, according to more stringent 2008 EPA testing regimen
Safety: All 5 stars in NHTSA testing

What's a full-sized SUV doing here? For starters, it's a full-sized SUV that gets the same city fuel economy as a four-cylinder Toyota Camry. If we're talking about all-wheel-drive vehicles, the Tahoe Hybrid gets the same overall fuel economy, city and highway combined, as a four-cylinder Subaru Legacy.

But there are things the Tahoe can do that a mid-sized sedan just can't. Besides being just plain bigger and roomier than a car, the Tahoe retains the full towing capacity of the non-hybrid version. The Tahoe's sophisticated hybrid also offers seamlessly smooth performance with no burbles going from electric-only to gasoline-driven modes.

In terms of safety, there is truth in the idea that larger vehicles offer more protection in a crash, especially ones that, like the Tahoe, have outstanding crash test scores. The downside is that larger vehicles are more ungainly to handle, even with electronic stability control, which the Tahoe has. That's why big SUVs are not recommended for younger, inexperienced drivers.

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Last updated March 11 2008: 10:59 AM ET