Hybrids and towing are two words that donâ€™t usually go together in our common vernacular. I mean seriously, can you picture a Prius towing a boat? But itâ€™s the 21st century now, and automotive technology seems to advance about 10 years every 12 months.
As a result, they can now make monster hybrids.
No, really. Just look out your window: that UPS truck, or that power company boom truck might be one of the new commercial diesel hybrids. They make hybrid race cars too (the Porsche 911 GT3 R). So, why not make a hybrid that canâ€¦tow a boat?
These full-sized trucks use a 6.0 liter V8, with an electric motor to create 332 combined horsepower & 367 lb-ft of torque. And thatâ€™s enough grunt to pull 6,100 lbs.
But, if you’re used to the capacity of a gas powered vehicle, that might not seem like a lot, especially when you consider that these trucks use a 6 liter V8. The gasoline equivalent has just a slightly larger 6.2 liter engine, and it can tow a whopping 10,600 lbs. That makes the hybrid Silverado / Sierra look much less practical on paper.
To see the real hybrid advantage, you have to look at the gas mileage numbers, which are especially good for city driving (don’t be surprised â€“ it’s not a commuter vehicle, it’s a vehicle you can actually use to get things done, a “mobile office” that tows).
The Silverado 1500 Hybrid and Sierra 1500 Hybrid are EPA rated at 20 city / 23 highway / 20 combined. By comparison, the 6.2 liter Silverado/Sierra can only manage 13/18/14. That’s more than a 40-50% gain in gas mileage for the hybrid in city driving â€“ depending on the kind of driving you do, that can really add up in your favor.
2011 Chevy owners like this gain in MPG, and want more: they wish they could plug this hybrid truck in, for example, and drive more in electric mode (how about driving up to 35 mph while staying in electric mode, instead of topping out at 20 or 30 mph?) for even better mileage and more savings.
To make the choice a bit sweeter, you won’t pay a lot more for these lighter impact, light hauling vehicles than you might for another type of hybrid that can’t get that work done.
The Chevy goes for $38,340, and the GMC for $38,710.
These icons of suburbia use the same hybrid powertrain as the trucks mentioned above, and they can tow 6,200 lbs each, an increase of 100 lbs (that’s like, what, one really large dog and his sack of food…could be useful).
Again, with the hybrid-gas model comparison, a 5.3 liter gas Tahoe can tow 8,500 lbs, but its gas mileage is 17 mpg combined, vs. 20 combined mpg for the hybrid. That can add up with this beast, and the stats get more impressive when you look just at city driving.
The biggest difference is in what you’ll pay: prices start at $50,735 for the Tahoe and $51,200 for the Yukon.
Owners report that their purchase is worth the price, whether they’re dedicated Tahoe drivers on their third one, or people buying one of these large SUVs for the first time, and who are ultimately glad they shelled out the cash.
The surprise heavy-haulinâ€™ hybrids of 2011 are none other than the Touareg, and the Cayenne. Two of the most over-engineered SUVâ€™s on the market today.
Famous for engineering prowess, the Germans created a hybrid system thatâ€™s as powerful as it is efficient. Using a Supercharged 3.0 liter V6, mated to an electric motor and All-Wheel Drive, the VW/Porsche hybrids produce 380-net horsepower, and 425 lb-ft of torque.
Thatâ€™s get-up and go to pull 7,700 lbsâ€¦with a hybrid! Bravo, Germany.
Compared to the American hybrids, the VW/Porsche hybrids can produce more power from a smaller hybrid system. And you’ll pay more for that technology:
$60,565 for the VW Touareg Hybrid, and $67,700 for the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid. But remember the old saying: you get what you pay for.
Those driving a VW Touareg say this hybrid is stellar: reliable (more so than previous year VWs), and fun to driveâ€”even more so than higher-priced SUVs. Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid drivers are (no surprise here) similarly pleased, even with their reported 18-19.5 mpg.
A handy online tool for prospective buyers is a customizable cost-to-own calculatorâ€”select new vehicles, plug in about how much you drive in a year, and compare the resulting estimates of total cost to own and cost per mile. Just another nice way to sort out your options.
And if you’re wondering how hybrid redesigning affects vehicle safety, then check out the ratings at safercar.gov. The ratings system has become more rigorous, and more cars and SUVs are being tested with these new standards all the time.
Towing with a hybrid. Ridiculous? Useful? What’s your take? Leave a comment!
Teddy Field got his start in the auto industry at the age of 17. He is a recognized car dealer sales & management consultant, an automotive journalist, and a regular contributor toÂ http://www.bestcardealsnewyork.com.