I'll chime in here.
I am a sporty/fun car fan. I've mostly had cars that are high on the fun to drive scale. A full sized SUV was a big change. I drove many of them when we were looking for a large family hauler/utility vahicle. Back to back with a Yukon, our Tahoe was more powerfull, handled better, and the trip computer showed a much better avg MPG for the same test drive route. Forget the test numbers for 0-60, because of the longer shifts in this special transmission, it isn't rated nearly as fast as it could be. Actual usable power is better for real world driving. You can also read about the removal of power accesories to lose weight, this let the battery shift the center of gravity lower for less body roll and quicker handling. If I remember correctly the Yukon showed about 12.5mpg for our test drive, and the Our Tahoe was about 16.5mpg. I don't drive slowly to get mileage, I'm just happy that I can get nearly 25% better mileage under the same circumstances.
They are rated just a tad lower for tow rating 6,000lbs for a 4wd, about 200lbs less than the non hybrid. That's not much, if you tow much more than that, get the 3/4ton Suburban, or a used Ford Excursion diesel.
Their is plenty of power from the motor to back up with a trailer, it's not like you'd be trying to go 30-40mph. Yes it is battery only, however the engine starts for safety reasons so that people know you are coming. Just like when you open the hood with the car in battery mode, the engine starts so you won't put your hand where it doesn't belong by accident.
I know that bounced around a lot, but if you have any questions give me a shout I'll be happy to help out. Don't worry I'll be fare, I don't like steering anyone to buy a car that wouldn't fit them (I have advised more than a few people on car purchases and none have been dissapointed.)
In 2010 models you can back up without having the engine turn on.(unless you press hard on gas pedal ) then engine goes on.
This wasn't available in older models.
But yes, the power comes from the electrical motors and not the engine,the engine goes on to charge the battery as far as I know.
I'm headding to Breckenridge Co in a 2011 Escalade this week end. Last ski trip I had a nasty 30 mph head wind all the way from Omaha to Denver. Cost me about 3 mpg wind plus grade. This will be my fourth run to the mountians in a 2 Mode. Forecast is WIND again!
The Tahoe has no reverse gear. The engine starts and provides electrical power, and also might relieve GM from the liability of quietly backing over someone. Reverse is applied through the electric motor only.
As for towing a boat. I tow a 23 foot boat with trailer without difficulty
'72 Vista Cruiser
'08 Tahoe hybrid
cwracer you are correct. Reverse is Mode 1 just apply the rear motor torque in a negative direction. As such the reverse maximum driveshaft torque hence wheel torque is less than the maximum forward direction.
If those gasoline engine guys could just make an engine go both ways like a motor/generator.