2015 Chevrolet Tahoe Review

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Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
July 4, 2015

The 2015 Chevy Tahoe is the anti-crossover--except where its savvy cabin and infotainment features are concerned--with almost all the capability of a full-size pickup.

All-new for the 2015 model year, the Chevrolet Tahoe can charge your iPad, stream data, seat up to 7, haul your boat, and go surprisingly well off-road. It’s a versatile, impressive machine. Among its competitors, the Tahoe is a holdout in a modern world, combining the best of hard-working truck technology with the comfort and convenience—and even luxury—features of any modern vehicle.

It's a derivative of GM's big pickup-truck and SUV family of vehicles, so the Tahoe's look is familiar. The front end's close to that of the 2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 pickup truck, but Chevy says the two vehicles don't share any sheetmetal. Elsewhere, the Tahoe's very crisply folded wagon body has much more in common with the 2015 Chevy Suburban--its long-wheelbase companion--and with the 2015 GMC Yukon.

The Tahoe sits on a wheelbase 116 inches long; the Suburban's span is 130 inches. (GMC's Yukon has the same parallel with the Yukon XL.)

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Aerodynamically, the new Tahoe improves on the outgoing model, despite sheetmetal that's lost almost all the softness introduced with the last-generation Tahoe, back in 2007. The cabin is the relief from all the hard, straight edges that define the new Tahoe: the cockpit, if you can call it that on an eight-passenger vehicle, is soothingly smooth and curved, with an 8.0-inch LCD touchscreen centerpiece and more overt car influences than ever.

Last year the Tahoe dropped its hybrid edition. For the major model change, it fits just a single drivetrain, 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.  GM claims the Tahoe will be best in its class--largely due to direct injection and cylinder deactivation. We find it to be remarkable, however it stacks up against the competition. The new Tahoe's manners on the road are impeccable, from the strong new V-8 engine to the smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. The cabin is also much quieter than the previous Tahoe's, matching nicely with the more comfortable seating and more stylish look. The Tahoe can tow up to 8,500 pounds when properly configured, too.

The Tahoe now benefits from the fuel-saving assistance of electric power steering, too, and its body is constructed of more high-strength steel, which GM claims will deliver a better, stiffer, body. The standard suspension is a live-axle, leaf-spring rear, but the Tahoe LTZ offers GM's Magnetic Ride Control, which uses shocks filled with magnetically charged fluid that changes damping rates every few milliseconds. When equipped with the Magnetic Ride Control system, body control of the large SUV is remarkable, even on winding roads, while comfort is maximized.

GM says it's put a lot of engineering effort into improving the Tahoe's functionality, safety, and infotainment features. Third-row access is better because the seats fold flat now, and getting in the way-back is easier thanks to a couple more inches in second-row leg room. The cabin's storage bins are more useful too, with a center console bin deep enough to hold tablet or small notebook computers. There's even a power-folding option for the second and third row, making it quicker and easier to convert from passenger duty to cargo-hauling mode.

The Tahoe tops off a revised safety package with GM's new front-center airbags, on models with front bucket seats. Adaptive cruise control is an option, as are a lane-departure warning system with seat-mounted haptic alerts, blind-spot monitors, forward collision alerts, and front parking sensors.

Other available features include keyless entry; pushbutton start; an 8.0-inch LCD touchscreen radio with Chevy MyLink connectivity; a head-up display; a power tailgate; a cargo-management system; and up to six USB ports and six power outlets. A Blu-Ray DVD entertainment system will also be an option on the Tahoe, as will wheels sized up to 22 inches.

Pricing starts from $45,980 for the 2WD LS model (including the $995 destination and delivery fee), rising to $50,995 for the LT, and $59,995 for the top-spec LTZ. Adding 4WD raises the price an even $3,000 on each trim level.

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2015 Chevrolet Tahoe

Styling

The upright new shape is bold and modern, but it won't appeal to everyone.

The new 2015 Chevy Tahoe is the first example of the model that doesn't share any of its body panels with the Silverado pickup that shares much of its mechanical bits. This freedom of design has allowed Chevrolet to re-work proportions and details to better reflect modern SUV styling.

Underpinning the crisp exterior lines is a focus on aerodynamics, to help boost gas mileage. But despite the engineered shapes, the overall look still says classic SUV, while draping the bulky form in graceful angles and sharp details.

Inside, the look of the new 2015 Tahoe is even more thoroughly revised, with many of the details shared with the pickups, but worked into a form that presents a substantial, durable sensation while also merging more car-like aspects to the control layout and overall shape.

Aesthetically, the new interior is head and shoulders above the previous-generation Tahoe, bringing a markedly premium feel through more modern shapes and themes, improved materials, and rich color palettes.

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2015 Chevrolet Tahoe

Performance

The new 5.3-liter V-8 engine in the 2015 Tahoe is strong and surprisingly efficient.

Looks can be deceiving, but in the case of the 2015 Chevy Tahoe, the looks are just the tip of the iceberg. A largely new 5.3-liter V-8 engine under the hood, backed up by a new six-speed automatic transmission, delivers marked improvement to the driving experience as well as increasing the Tahoe's capability.

The new V-8 engine undergoes improvements in several areas, including power, efficiency, and quietness. The power upgrades boost output to 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque, while at the same time, the efficiency upgrades eke more mileage out of each gallon of gasoline.

Direct injection and cylinder deactivation are at the top of the efficiency upgrades sheet. While direct injection allows more precise and more efficient use of fuel, it does its job behind the scenes. The star of the new V-8's efficiency cast is the cylinder deactivation mode, which allows the engine to turn off half of its cylinders under low-load conditions, effectively turning the 5.3-liter V-8 into a 2.65-liter V-4. That can yield remarkable gains in steady-state gas mileage, and the process is completely transparent to the user; there is no vibration or clunking to indicate the switch, just a little "V4" or "V8" indicator in the gauge cluster LCD display.

Beyond the improved engine, the new six-speed transmission smooths out shifts, making acceleration more seamless, and highway cruising even quieter. The combined engine and transmission team up to allow the 2015 Tahoe to tow up to 8,500 pounds as well, when properly configured.

Driving the new Tahoe feels a lot like driving the old one--as it should: this is still a large SUV built around a V-8 engine, with a solid-axle rear suspension. But the electric power steering assist, the improved structural rigidity, and the drivetrain upgrades all come together to make it better than the last Tahoe, too. A commanding seating position gives the driver full view of the road, while a backup camera makes reverse maneuvers simple (and safer), and the overall feeling behind the wheel is one of solidity and capability. The 2015 Tahoe is easier to drive than ever, despite also being more capable than ever.

Tahoe LTZ models offer Magnetic Ride Control damping, which improves comfort and stability by adjusting to match the road conditions at intervals of 5 milliseconds. Variable-assist electric power steering helps squeeze out a bit more gas mileage, but also makes steering effort light and responsive at any vehicle speed.

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2015 Chevrolet Tahoe

Comfort & Quality

Premium look and feel define the 2015 Tahoe's cabin, while cargo features and comfort take a step up.

The 2015 Chevy Tahoe now looks the part of an up-to-$70,000 SUV, but does it deliver on quality and feel? On comfort and convenience? It does.

Improvements to the materials and overall construction come together in the 2015 Tahoe to form a much more car-like, even luxury sedan-like sense in the cabin. Supportive seats, clad in supple (optional) leather make for comfortable seating in both the front and second row (the second row gains two inches of leg room over the previous model), whether heading across town or across country. Likewise, the new cabin is whisper-quiet, further enhancing comfort on the road.

The third row of the Tahoe has been improved for 2015, but it's still a smaller, flatter seating area that's still best reserved for shorter adults or children and teens. Perhaps the most-improved aspect of the second- and third-row seating is the new optional power-operated folding of both rows. Buttons in the rear cargo area allow the seats to be quickly stowed to increase cargo area, and, for the third row, re-deployed into seating position just as quickly. The second-row seats still have to be manually pushed back down into seating position.

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2015 Chevrolet Tahoe

Safety

The 2015 Tahoe hasn't been crash tested yet, but it offers a segment-first front-row center airbag and a number of other high-tech safety features.

The new 2015 Tahoe rates as well as or better than the previous generation of Tahoe, as GM has invested substantial effort in improving the rigidity of the passenger structure, as well as equipping more standard and available safety equipment.

Forward collision alert, park assistance sensors, lane departure warning, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control are among the standard and available options.

All Tahoes offer the segment's only front-seat center airbag (on bucket-seat models), which offers greater protection for front-seat passengers in side-impact crashes.

While the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) hasn't released crash tests for the Tahoe (it tends not to test large body-on-frame SUVs), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the Tahoe top five-star ratings for frontal offset and side impact protection. But it achieves a four-star Overall rating due to its lower three-star rollover rating (mostly a factor, again, of the tall body-on-frame construction).

The feds later separately crash-tested a 2015 Chevy Suburban and found that it earned somewhat lower rating in a couple of key areas—four stars instead of five stars in both the Frontal Crash category and the Side Pole test. That still calculates out to the same four-star overall rating for the two models, but it points to the Tahoe as the pick of the two if safety is the top priority.

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2015 Chevrolet Tahoe

Features

On top-tier LTZ trims, the 2015 Chevy Tahoe offers luxury-like equipment and features.

From the dashboard to the liftgate, the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe is packed with more technology and features than ever. While much of it is related to driver assistance and safety, there's plenty of entertainment and connectivity to be had as well.

Among the features available in the new Tahoe are a new eight-inch color touchscreen for the audio/navigation/information system, which includes MyLink connectivity. Up to six USB ports and six power outlets, including a 110-volt grounded outlet help ensure everyone's devices stay charged. A rear-seat entertainment system offers Blu-ray DVD capability, and a "conversation mirror" in the overhead console gives a panoramic view of the rear seats to help parents keep an eye on children. Keyless entry and pushbutton start are also available.

The 2015 Tahoe is laid out in three core trim levels: LS, LT, and LTZ, with standard and available equipment expanding as you climb the ladder. Top-tier models can approach, or in some cases exceed, $70,000, but at that level, the equipment and convenience factor matches a modern luxury sedan or crossover.

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2015 Chevrolet Tahoe

Fuel Economy

It's not the greenest people-mover around, but the 2015 Tahoe takes strides toward improvement.

Rated at 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway for a combined rating of 18 mpg (in two-wheel-drive form), the 2015 Chevy Tahoe isn't going to deliver hybrid sedan-like economy, but it is an improvement over the outgoing model.

Real-world gains may be even higher than indicated by the EPA ratings, depending on the driver's heavy-footedness, as the cylinder deactivation system effectively transforms the Tahoe into a four-cylinder under low-load driving. In our experience behind the wheel of the Tahoe, combined scores in the low-20-mpg range are possible without resorting to hypermiling heroics.

If you add four-wheel-drive to the Tahoe's spec list, EPA-rated gas mileage dips only slightly to 16/22 mpg city/highway, keeping the 18 mpg combined rating.

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October 20, 2015
2015 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD 4-Door LTZ

Just a GREAT GREAT Vehicle!!

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It's the best vehicle i have ever owned. Fun to drive and the best look Tahoe ever made.
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July 6, 2015
2015 Chevrolet Tahoe 2WD 4-Door LTZ

I love this LTZ!!

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This vehicle may be the best vehicle I have ever owned, and I've owned some Cadillacs! I get a lot of compliments. I love to show off the retractable running boards. This Tahoe has features like Rain-Sense... + More »
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