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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
Engineering tweaks...improving ride, structural rigidity, and driving
Car and Driver
Surprisingly maneuverable and tractable vehicle
Kelley Blue Book
Tahoes with the 5.3-liter V8 have fine power from any speed
Like most SUVs, the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe can burn through fuel at a depressing rate, but at least the Chevrolet Tahoe offers impressive performance for all the gas it inhales. A long list of performance enhancements that debuted on the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe carries over onto the 2008 version and makes this Chevrolet Tahoe 2008 one of the better-performing SUVs on the market.
The 2008 Chevy Tahoe features a choice of three engines: "a 4.8-liter V-8 with 295 horsepower, a 5.3-liter V-8 with 320 horsepower, and a 6.2-liter V-8 with 380 horsepower," according to Car and Driver. Reviews of the three engines read by TheCarConnection.com are positive, and Edmunds states that the "4WD 2008 Chevy Tahoe is fairly quick, getting to 60 mph in just 8.6 seconds." However, Edmunds also notes that "the Tahoe doesn't feel nearly so quick when carrying a full load of passengers or cargo." ConsumerGuide adds that Tahoes "with the 5.3-liter V8 have fine power from any speed," and they mention that E85 ethanol, which "is available in most states and can be less expensive than regular-grade gasoline," can "be used in versions of the Tahoe with the 5.3-liter V8." The big V-8 engines also bring impressive towing capacity to the Chevrolet Tahoe 2008, and Cars.com says that, "when properly configured, the Tahoe can tow up to 8,200 pounds." ForbesAutos reviewers report this is enough to "tow and haul serious loads." The largest engine on the Chevrolet Tahoe, the high-output but thirsty 6.2-liter V-8, is only available on the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe in LTZ trim, and only when equipped with two-wheel drive. (The 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is covered separately.)
Two transmissions are available on the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe, along with two drive configurations, and Cars.com notes that both of the smaller V-8s "use a four-speed automatic transmission," while the 6.2-liter version gets an upgraded six-speed automatic. In addition, Car and Driver says "four-wheel drive is optional on all Tahoe models," while "rear-wheel drive is standard." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com are pretty critical of the four-speed transmission on the 2008 Chevy Tahoe, and ForbesAutos is disappointed to see Chevrolet continue to offer the transmission "even as the competition offers more sophisticated and smoother five-speed gearboxes." ConsumerGuide nonetheless reports "the transmission shifts smoothly, though some testers complain of delayed downshifts."
One of the biggest problems with a transmission that features only four gears is that it tends to hinder fuel economy. This is definitely true on the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe, where the official EPA estimates for fuel economy range from 12 mpg city to a maximum of 20 mpg on the highway. The breakdown across the Chevrolet Tahoe lineup is that the 2WD-equipped 4.8-liter engine will get 14 mpg city and 19 mpg on the highway, while the 2WD 5.3-liter engine ups that to 14/20 mpg, and the 6.2-liter engine gets 12/19 mpg. Chevrolet Tahoes equipped with four-wheel drive all get 14 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. Fortunately, Chevrolet has taken steps to address the poor fuel economy on the Tahoe Chevrolet by introducing an Active Fuel Management system that Kelley Blue Book says will cut "the operation of four cylinders when they are unneeded," which "enhances fuel economy."
With a curb weight north of 5,000 pounds, the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe shouldn't handle particularly well, but Car and Driver reports that "the engineering tweaks that it received in 2007 went a long way toward improving the ride, structural rigidity, and driving experience." In terms of handling, Kelley Blue Book praises the 2008 Chevy Tahoe, citing the improved response due to the "fully-boxed frame (for more chassis stiffness), coil-over-shock front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering result in a surprisingly maneuverable and tractable vehicle." Edmunds loves the Chevrolet Tahoe 2008's "soft ride" and describes it as "Tahoe's greatest dynamic asset, though the price paid is a somewhat rubbery quality to the steering and handling." ConsumerGuide reports "alert reactions to steering" and that "low-speed maneuverability is aided by a relatively tight turning circle." Furthermore, ConsumerGuide adds that the "brakes feel strong, but some testers want better pedal modulation."
For a vehicle of its size, the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe has decent maneuverability and good power, though you'll have to be satisfied with a four-speed automatic on most versions.