The 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe starts with some of the same underpinnings as GM's full-size pickups, like the Chevy Silverado, but it makes the most of its truck hardware when it comes to performance--both in terms of responsiveness, and traditional truck ability.
Most 2013 Tahoe models come with a 5.3-liter V-8 with 320 horsepower, coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. It's a well-executed combo that doles out smooth, steady acceleration as well as a little of the muscle-bound V-8 sound. It also has cylinder deactivation, which shuts off fuel to half the cylinders under coasting or deceleration, and earns respectable fuel economy ratings of 15/21 mpg. On most of the lineup, rear-wheel drive is standard, with a dual-range four-wheel-drive system available.
With a fully boxed frame, coil-over-shock front suspension, and rack-and-pinion steering, the Tahoe blends traditional truck duty with more modern standards of drivability and responsiveness. At its best, the Tahoe is as responsive as any 5,600-pound vehicle can be and feels much more maneuverable than it should. Base versions of the Tahoe don't quite ride as well as top-of-the-line Tahoe LTZ models with the magnetic suspension, however. Non-hybrid Tahoes this year gain Powertrain Grade Braking, which helps improve stability when making long descents.
Strong, seamless power is provided by the standard powertrain combination, a 320-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8 and six-speed automatic transmission. Variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation help keep it smooth yet fuel-saving, plus it's E85 capable, which some shoppers in farm states might appreciate, and we even give a nod of approval to its muscle-car-like exhaust note. Tahoe Hybrid models get a big 332-horsepower, 6.0-liter V-8 that's aided by electric motors and battery power, using a version of the Two-Mode Hybrid system developed by GM with BMW, Daimler, and Chrysler. This system uses a four-speed automatic and is by no means delicate; it's approved for towing and other personal-truck use. Yet take off lightly, and the system can run at lower speeds (up to 27 mph) on using the electric motors alone. Also, tow ratings for the Hybrid rate as high as 5,000 pounds.Driving manners for the Hybrid are surprisingly close to those of the other Tahoe models; but the regenerative braking can feel jerky with no load, and the Hybrid's steering is numb, with a light feel and no feedback. The Hybrid's four-wheel-drive system is a more sophisticated, electronically switched system.