Trucks & SUVs

GMC’s Hybrid Suvs Completely Flopped at the Worst Time

GMC is a very competitive brand in many segments, however, it made a big mistake when it came to its SUVs. Back in the day, when hybrids such as the Prius were all the rage, a few automakers started making hybrid SUVs. GMC jumped on this trend, but then, it jumped off right before hybrid SUVs became popular.

GMC’s hybrid Yukon gets discontinued

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GMC, which is owned by GM, was one of the few brands that had a hybrid SUV back in the day, according to Autotrader. GM’s other brands, such as Chevy and Cadillac, also had hybrid versions of their most popular SUVs. Chevy had the hybrid Tahoe, GMC had the hybrid Yukon, and Cadillac had the hybrid Escalade. 

However, due to poor sales, Autotrader wrote that, in 2013, GM decided to discontinue all the hybrid trims of its SUVs. The sales were extremely low across the board, too.

In the prior year, Chevy only sold about 500 hybrid Tahoes out of 70,000 Tahoes sold. GMC and Cadillac only sold a combined 1,200 hybrid Yukons and Escalades out of a combined sale of 40,000 regular Yukons and Escalades. 

This meant that, overall, GM only sold about 1,700 hybrid full-size SUVs out of the 110,000 full-size SUVs it sold that year. That said, poor sales weren’t the only reason for discontinuing these hybrids.

Autotrader also wrote that GM was redesigning each of those three SUVs that year. Because of that, GM thought that it simply wouldn’t be worth the hassle to update the hybrid trims as well.

The hybrid SUVs come back

A GMC Yukon Hybrid on display at an auto show
A GMC Yukon Hybrid on display | Jonathan Fickies/Getty Images

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Flash forward to the present day, and hybrid SUVs are more popular than ever. Many automakers are offering a hybrid trim for their SUVs, and it’s not something that only foreign automakers are doing with their smaller SUVs, either.

For example, the Ford Explorer is a full-size SUV just like the Tahoe, the Yukon, and the Escalade are. However, unlike those GM SUVs, Ford offers the Ford Explorer hybrid, and it’s actually pretty fuel-efficient

Ford in general has taken big steps into making great hybrid SUVs, as the Ford Escape shows. But of course, the main players in the hybrid SUV game are Asian automakers such as Toyota, Honda, and Subaru.

Asian automakers offer hybrid versions of many of their cars, SUVs included, and they typically score really well in every category on review sites. 

Despite this resurgence of hybrid SUVs, GM doesn’t seem to have any plans of bringing back its old hybrid SUVs. That said, while sales were what ultimately doomed those SUVs, GM could’ve doubled down and invested more into its hybrid SUVs.

What GMC could’ve done differently

The two main reasons why GM’s line of hybrid SUVs failed were because of their prices and their low fuel economy, according to Autotrader. Obviously, giving a car a hybrid engine will increase the price, but in the case of GM’s SUVs, the price difference was too much for many customers to stomach. For example, the Tahoe started at about $41,000, and the hybrid trim started at $54,000, a full $13,000 price difference.

This massive premium didn’t seem to get shoppers that much better of a fuel economy, either. The regular Tahoe got 15 MPG in the city and 21 MPG on highways, while the hybrid Tahoe got 20 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on highways. Since GMC and Chevy make almost identical cars, the Yukon was similar in this aspect, too. 

If GM was just more patient, those issues would’ve been solved later on. For example, the hybrid Explorer currently gets 27 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on highways, and this makes it far more fuel-efficient than the regular Explorer is.