The Car Connection Chevrolet Tahoe Overview
The Chevy Tahoe is a three-row, full-size SUV and the short-wheelbase companion to the Chevy Suburban.
With the Tahoe, Chevrolet has a rival for vehicles like the Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada, and Toyota Sequoia—not to mention GM's own family of Suburban, Yukon and Escalade utility vehicles.
In its higher trim levels, the Tahoe even can be seen as a competitor for higher-end vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, since the nicest versions overlap it in price, and can even seem a bit more polished.
MORE: Read our 2018 Chevy Tahoe review
The new Chevrolet Tahoe
The Tahoe's been a survivor because of its no-nonsense design and its durability. Most recently redesigned for the 2015 model year, today's Tahoe is 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.
In the 2014 model year, GM introduced the first vehicles on its updated full-size SUV/truck architecture. The 2014 GMC Sierra and 2014 Chevy Silverado trucks adopted a new body structure, more angular looks, and received new powertrains including an updated 5.3-liter V-8 and a totally reworked 4.3-liter V-6.
The Tahoe shared many of those updates when it was new a year later, but it doesn't offer the V-6 engine. The Tahoe continues to offer a single powertrain, GM's new 5.3-liter V-8, which is coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The V-8 is rated at 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. It can be had in both rear- and four-wheel drive. A bigger engine is available in GMC's related Yukon.
Coupled with the sharp new look and drivetrain are new technology options and improved comfort. The 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 model'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 wi-fi hotspot capability and a faster connection to OnStar. The functionality was 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.
New features added through the 2016 model year include a touchscreen infotainment system, lane-keeping assist, and Apple CarPlay. Changes for 2017 were minor—mostly trim and features repackaging—save for the addition of automatic emergency braking, a teen-driver alert system, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
For 2018, the Tahoe lineup grows with the addition of the RST—or Rally Sport Truck—package that's optionally available. In addition to a more buttoned-down suspension with unique styling bits, the RST can be upgraded with a 6.2-liter V-8 and Brembo brakes. Also, a new Custom trim package lets buyers save a couple grand with the deletion of the otherwise standard third row of seats.
Chevy Tahoe history
The Tahoe 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 hp. A 4-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-hp, 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 hp 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.