The 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe is available in LS, LT, LTZ and Hybrid models, in either 2WD or 4WD. All Tahoe models are built on GM’s full-size SUV platform that incorporates features such as a fully boxed frame, coil-over-shock front suspension, and rack-and-pinion steering. StabiliTrak stability control, ABS, traction control, and curtain airbags for all rows are standard on every trim level.
The big news for 2009 is the new Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed transmission that comes standard on all Tahoe models with the Vortec 5.3-liter V-8 and 6.2-liter V-8. By reducing engine rpm at cruising speeds, the new transmission reduces fuel use as well as helping to quiet the SUV's interior. The new Vortec 6.2-liter engine produces 395 horsepower and 417 lb-ft of torque, and is available on LTZ models. The engine features a lightweight aluminum block and variable valve timing.
The smaller 4.8-liter, 295 horsepower engine is offered with a four-speed automatic transmission. All engines feature fuel-saving cylinder deactivation, and this feature is virtually imperceptible as it turns off cylinders when full power isn't necessary. You can also choose the Tahoe Hybrid (covered in a separate TheCarConnection.com review). It utilizes GM’s patented two-mode hybrid system to deliver a 50-percent-improved fuel mileage in city driving.
Although those planning to tall the heaviest loads might appreciate the 6.2-liter, TheCarConnection.com has driven several Tahoe variants and find the 5.3-liter has plenty of power to move the big Chevy with authority. The big Tahoe rides smoothly on its coil-spring suspension, but beware that as you move up in wheel and tire size, ride quality suffers. TheCarConnection.com vastly prefers the 17-inch and 18-inch tires to the 20-inchers because of this. With the smaller rims, the Tahoe is as responsive as any 5,600-pound vehicle can be and feels much more maneuverable than it should.
Inside, a more work-oriented interior is fitted to the base Tahoe. However, what the base interior lacks in visual appeal it makes up for in everyday function. The LTZ's interior is completely different in both design and materials; it could have been lifted from a premium German sedan. The switchgear also works well and is easy to use. (GM's corporate non-navigation radio, by the way, is among the most intuitive and simplest to use.) Comfort for the first two rows is excellent, and a three-person front bench seat is available; however, the optional third row is not so great. Unlike in other SUVs, this seat is a pain to remove (it doesn't fold into the floor like the Honda Pilot's), and the remaining mounting tabs stick up from the floor and can scratch cargo.
Special to the LTZ are features such as heated and cooled 12-way memory seats, perforated, leather-trimmed seating surfaces, brushed metal steering wheel trim plate and a rear fascia with chrome accent and trailer hitch cover. For 2009, new features include XM NavTraffic, OnStar 8.0 with Stolen Vehicle Slow Down, Turn-by-Turn navigation, and Destination Download, plus Bluetooth connectivity with specific steering wheel controls. A new backup-camera display built into the inside mirror is newly available.
When viewing the exterior of the 2009 Chevy Tahoe, Cars.com reviewers first notice the "large clear-lens headlights [that] flank a wide grille bisected by a thick horizontal member with a large Chevy bowtie logo." Kelley Blue Book says, "the face of the Chevrolet Tahoe is its most distinctive exterior feature," but also mentions that "the steeply-angled windshield, wraparound fascia and faired-in headlights help contribute to a best-in-segment 0.363 coefficient of drag." Car and Driver praises the Chevrolet Tahoe 2009's "handsome exterior and interior design."
The term most frequently used by reviewers to describe the 2009 Chevy Tahoe is "handsome," and the Tahoe Chevrolet is indeed deserving of the moniker. Kelley Blue Book reviewers report that "despite the slightly conservative exterior styling, the Tahoe is still handsome," and Forbes Autos approves of the Chevrolet Tahoe's "handsome, conservative exterior" as well, calling it "unashamedly big and boxy, though slightly more aerodynamic looking than the previous generation's."
About the cabin Car and Driver says that the "modern and uncluttered interior gives the Tahoe a luxurious look." Consumer Guide notes "the gauges are generally easy to read, but some testers find the markings too indistinct for best legibility," though they also mention "most controls are logically placed and operate with precision." Both Consumer Guide testers and editors at TheCarConnection.com love the available navigation system on the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe, which ConsumerGuide says "has a large, easy-to-read touch screen that absorbs, but does not complicate, audio functions." Kelley Blue Book feels that "the instrument panel with LED backlighting is fit for a luxury sedan," and Edmunds raves about "la handsome, well-tailored cabin.”
With a curb weight north of 5000 pounds, the 2009 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 2009 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 2009'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." Consumer Guide reports "alert reactions to steering" and that "low-speed maneuverability is aided by a relatively tight turning circle." Furthermore, the "brakes feel strong, but some testers want better pedal modulation."
Reviews of the Tahoe's engines read by TheCarConnection.com are virtually all positive, and Edmunds states that the "4WD 2009 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." Consumer Guide adds that Tahoes "with the 5.3-liter V-8 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 V-8."
The big V-8 engines also bring impressive towing capacity to the Chevrolet Tahoe 2009, and Cars.com says that, "when properly configured, the Tahoe can tow up to 8,200 pounds." Forbes Autos 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 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe in LTZ trim, and only when equipped with two-wheel drive. (The 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is covered separately.)
Fuel economy is, of course, one of the low points of a vehicle of this size and weight. The official EPA estimates for fuel economy range from 12 mpg city to a maximum of 20 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."
For a big, truck-based SUV that makes no pretenses of being a luxury vehicle, the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe is surprisingly smooth, refined, and comfortable.
Kelley Blue Book notes that the 2009 Chevy Tahoe has "definitely moved up a notch or two when it comes to interior refinement and luxury, as befitting a vehicle that can cost $40,000 or more," also commenting that their reviewers were "struck by the Tahoe's quiet cabin and its inviting, upscale interior." More praise flows in from Car and Driver reviewers who feel that the interior graining pattern "wouldn't look out of place in a BMW" and point out that "gaps between parts have shrunk to just about nothing, and the Tahoe [they] drove was squeak- and rattle-free." The interior quality of the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe also receives praise from Edmunds reviewers, who declare that "the newest Tahoe boasts attractive, high-quality materials and tight build quality." That opinion is affirmed in other reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, such as one from Consumer Guide, which reports "assembly quality on all models tested shows strong attention to detail," adding that "most interior materials feel high-grade, though soft-touch surfaces are scarce."
In order to increase cargo volume, Car and Driver points out that you can fold "the third row forward" or "remove the row, although each section of the two-piece bench weighs 65 pounds." In addition to the rear storage, Consumer Guide states that "cabin storage is enhanced by [a] large center console bin" and "roomy door pockets in front." Consumer Guide says cargo room in the 2009 Chevy Tahoe is "spacious with two rows of seats," but that falls to only "adequate for a single row of grocery bags behind the 3rd-row seat." In terms of hard numbers, Cars.com reports "with both rows stowed, maximum cargo volume is 108.9 cubic feet," but "with the third-row bench in place, cargo volume falls to 16.9 cubic feet."
Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com are very positive when it comes to front- and middle-seat comfort. Consumer Guide says the "seats are supportive" and there is "generous headroom and legroom," especially up front. Cars.com says the front "two rows of seats hold up to six occupants, with a third row optional on lower trims and standard on the LTZ" that boosts maximum passenger capacity to nine. Inside the 2009 Chevy Tahoe, Forbes Autos suggests that "four or five burly individuals can be seated in comfort with generous leg and head room" in the front two rows.
Regarding the third row in the Chevrolet Tahoe 2009, reviews indicate it's probably better left to kids (or pets), and Car and Driver contends the third row is "strictly for the SpongeBob set." Consumer Guide agrees, reporting the third row's "low-to-floor cushion forces knees-up discomfort" on adult passengers.
The reviews read by the TheCarConnection.com reported that the full-size 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe received strong crash-test ratings.
In NHTSA tests the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe earned a perfect five-star rating in both front impact categories, as well as additional five-star ratings for both side impact categories. In fact, the only area where the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe didn't earn a perfect rating was in the rollover category, where it scored a middle-of-the-road three stars. While that rating is unfortunate, it's not entirely surprising given the Chevrolet Tahoe's tall body. The 2009 Chevy Tahoe has not yet been crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Car and Driver notes that across the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe lineup, standard Chevrolet Tahoe 2009 safety features include "dual front airbags, curtain side-impact airbags, seatbelt pretensioners, stability control, ABS, and tire-pressure monitoring, and OnStar emergency service." In a nod to the Chevrolet Tahoe's practicality as a family vehicle, Mother Proof reports that "two sets of Latch connectors" are available on the rear bench for securing child safety seats. Kelley Blue Book reviewers praise the 2009 Chevy Tahoe's manufacturer for making "StabiliTrak electronic stability control system standard on the Tahoe, because it is potentially life-saving technology that can significantly reduce single-vehicle accidents."
ConsumerGuide reports that the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe features a rearview camera that "aids aft visibility but distorts distances, compromising its usefulness," although if Chevrolet can fix that problem, then the camera will help greatly during parking maneuvers. Car and Driver observes that "large exterior mirrors made lane changing easy in the Tahoe."
The 2009 Chevy Tahoe is available in a wide range of trim levels, from quite basic to luxury-laden. If you don’t have quite the vehicle you want, you can always add options; the Tahoe’s options list is long, with the possibility of packages or stand-alone options.
Standard features on the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe vary somewhat across the three trim levels, but Consumer Guide reports that all Chevrolet Tahoe 2009 models come with "air conditioning w/dual-zone manual controls, rear air conditioning and heater," an "OnStar assistance system," and full power accessories, among others. Edmunds adds that the Chevrolet Tahoe 2009 LS "should please most folks" as it comes with "17-inch alloy wheels" and "an MP3-capable CD player and a trip computer." Those consumers looking for flashier Chevrolet Tahoe trims can opt for the LT, which Edmunds says brings "foglamps, color-keyed exterior trim, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, [and] front bucket seats with a console," while the top-end LTZ "features 20-inch alloy wheels, heated second-row seats, a locking rear differential, [and] power liftgate." Mother Proof reviewers in particular love the power liftgate on the 2009 Chevy Tahoe LTZ since "the gate can be quite heavy to open and close manually."
Kelley Blue Book says that some of the "key options" are a "rear-seat entertainment center with DVD player" and "Bose premium nine-speaker sound system." Edmunds states that "major stand-alone options for the Chevrolet Tahoe include a navigation system" and a "rearview camera." The navigation system gets strong reviews from both TheCarConnection.com's editors and in other reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, with Edmunds reporting "the navigation system is easy to use." In terms of the numerous available packages, Consumer Guide feels that some of the most desirable are the 3LT Package, which brings "heated 12-way power front seats w/lumbar adjustment" and that "Bose sound system," and the 2LT Package, which includes a "rear-obstacle-detection system, tri-zone automatic climate controls," and "remote engine start."
- 2009 Nissan Armada
- 2008 Toyota Sequoia
- 2008 Ford Expedition
The Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia are both a bit larger than the Chevrolet Tahoe and could also be compared against the larger Chevrolet Suburban. Don't write off the Tahoe because of quality concerns, this truck is designed and built to run among the best of the best. A properly equipped 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe can tow four tons, besting the Toyota Sequoia and Nissan Armada in this important category. Compared to the Ford Expedition the big Chevy offers a wider choice of engines and TheCarConnection.com's editors appreciate its comparatively more responsive handling and great ride quality in the top LTZ models.