A full-size SUV with a 6.0-liter engine is Green Car of the Year? Strange but true: The 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid beat the Chevy Malibu Hybrid, Mazda Tribute Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid, and Saturn Aura Hybrid for the honor. It makes sense, though: that enormous engine is a two-mode hybrid—a second-generation hybrid powertrain that both boosts mileage at highway speeds and allows for the serious towing power a vehicle like the Tahoe needs. (Incidentally, PopSci gave the two-mode hybrid a Best of What’s New award in our December issue).

The Tahoe is the first hybrid full-size SUV, and it avoids the temptation to use that electric motor just to add horsepower while keeping fuel efficiency constant. In fact, the Tahoe gets impressive gas mileage: 21 mpg in the city, which makes it as efficient as a Toyota Camry with a 4-cylinder engine. So as odd as it may seem that a giant SUV would be anointed Green Car of the Year, the Tahoe is certainly more of a game changer than the other four finalists. That said: Here’s hoping that a truly revolutionary car—a full-fledged production plug-in hybrid or fuel-cell vehicle—comes along soon to claim this prize.—Seth Fletcher