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.