New & Used Chevrolet Tahoe: In Depth
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The Chevrolet Tahoe is a three-row, full-size SUV that is the short-wheelbase companion to the Chevy Suburban. The Tahoe also shares its architecture with the Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon sport-utes, as well as the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.
The Tahoe's been a survivor because of its no-nonsense design and its durability. It's a competitor for the likes of the Nissan Armada, Toyota Sequoia, and Ford Expedition--but really, nothing has sold as well as GM's Tahoe/Suburban/Yukon lineup. In its higher trim levels, the Tahoe even can be seen as a competitor for vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, since the nicest versions overlap it in price, and can seem a bit more polished, even.
MORE: Read our 2015 Chevy Tahoe review
The Tahoe was fully redesigned for the 2015 model year, better focused on its mission of providing seating for eight in comfort, while able to tow up to 8,500 pounds. Nine-passenger seating is also available on base models equipped with an optional front bench seat in place of the standard buckets.
GM began rolling out the new versions of its full-size trucks and SUVs for the 2014 model year. First up were the revamped 2014 Chevy Silverado and 2014 GMC Sierra trucks, which gained mostly new body structures, far more crisp styling, and revamped powertrains, including an excellent rework of the 4.3-liter V-6 and the stalwart 5.3-liter V-8. The basics of the pickups extend into the current Tahoe and its SUV siblings.
In its latest form, the Tahoe is fitted with a single powertrain, GM's latest 5.3-liter V-8 coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. It's rated at 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque, in both rear-drive and four-wheel-drive form.
Coupled with the sharp new look and drivetrain are new technology and improved comfort. The new Tahoe's manners on the road are impeccable, especially with the newly optional adaptive shocks, and the cabin is also much quieter than the previous Tahoe's, matching nicely with the more comfortable seating and more stylish look. Third-row access is better because the second row of seats now folds flat, and there is a couple more inches of second-row leg room, which helps those in row two get comfortable and also makes climbing to the way-back a little easier. On models with front bucket seats, the Tahoe tops off a revised safety package with GM's new front-center airbags, which help keep front-seat occupants from striking each other during a collision.
The Tahoe is one of a number of GM vehicles to offer 4G LTE from AT&T, which includes in-car WiFi hotspot capability. The functionality will be added mid-way through the 2015 model year with a hardware update, and allows occupants to connect phones, tablets, and other devices to a super-fast LTE connection that beats the speed of mobile devices and also avoids using the data in your cellular plan. The other GM SUVs and trucks will get this functionality at the same time. Future updates will likely include a switch to an eight-speed automatic transmission, which has already taken place for GM trucks and SUVs equipped with the larger V-8 engine.
Chevy Tahoe history
The Tahoe, Chevy's newest SUV nameplate, arrived in the 1995 model year, replacing the Blazer badge and was teamed with a four-door model. Based on the big GM trucks, the Tahoe was powered in most cases by a big 5.7-liter V-8. A turbodiesel version found few applications and few buyers. In this generation, sold until the 1998 model year, GM added a driver-side airbag and a luxury-trim Limited package, which was sold in the 2000 model year. This version overlapped with the entirely new "GMT800" Chevy Tahoe, which was new for the 2000 model year.
The 2000–2006 Chevy Tahoe again offered a choice of V-8 engines, either a 4.8-liter V-8 or a 5.3-liter V-8, separated only by 10 horsepower. A four-speed automatic took care of shifting in all versions, and the Tahoe came in rear- or four-wheel-drive versions. A more genteel look wasn't quite matched by a lackluster interior, but with good towing capacity and additions like stability control and more airbags, the Tahoe rode the SUV wave of popularity to become a best seller in the Chevy truck lineup.
GM advanced its plans to replace the GMT800 trucks and SUVs with a GMT900 family of vehicles--and the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe proved the move worthy in mechanical terms, even if SUV sales were about to fall off a proverbial cliff. The new Tahoe's crisp lines, and improved body rigidity lent it a mature, even sophisticated look--one matched by a handsome interior. All the towing and hauling capability carried over, with a more comfortable five- or six-seat interior package--but the powertrains got a fuel-economy boost that was offset on the marketing side by the addition of a 403-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8.
Chevy introduced a Tahoe Hybrid in the 2009 model year. It used a 6.0-liter V-8 making 332 horsepower backed by a two-mode transmission that was engineered with cooperation among General Motors, Daimler, and Chrysler. Fuel economy ratings were as high as 20 mpg in the city and 23 highway. The large battery pack was located below the second row of seats, which compromised space and interior flexibility, while towing was also down, to a max of 5,000 pounds.
Through 2013, changes were minimal to the Tahoe lineup. Trailer Sway Control was added for 2012, and Powertrain Grade Braking was a new addition for 2013; both enhance towing stability and safety. The Tahoe Hybrid was dropped after the 2013 model year.