Among its competitors, the Chevrolet Tahoe is a holdout in the modern world, combining the best of hard-working truck technology with the comfort and convenience—and even luxury—features of a modern vehicle.
The Tahoe is a versatile, impressive full-size SUV. It can seat up to nine, haul your boat, and handle off-road duty surprisingly well. It can also charge your iPad, connect to the Internet, and entertain the kids with movies.
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 2016 Chevy Silverado 1500 pickup truck, but Chevy says the two vehicles don't share any sheet metal. Elsewhere, the Tahoe's very crisply folded wagon body has much more in common with the 2016 Chevy Suburban—its long-wheelbase companion—and with the 2016 GMC Yukon.
The Tahoe's wheelbase is 116 inches long, while the Suburban's span is 130 inches. GMC's Yukon is the same size as the Tahoe, while the Yukon XL matches the Suburban.
The Tahoe's cabin is the relief from all the hard, straight edges that define the exterior. The interior is soothingly smooth and curved, with an 8.0-inch LCD touchscreen centerpiece and more overt car, and even luxury, influences than ever.
Chevrolet offers just a single drivetrain, GM's 5.3-liter V-8 coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission. It's rated at 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque, in both rear-drive and four-wheel-drive form. Direct injection and cylinder deactivation make this big V-8 surprisingly efficient. Power is strong at all speeds, and the engine works well with the smooth-shifting automatic transmission. The Tahoe can tow up to 8,600 pounds when properly configured, too.
Despite its its large size and truck-type construction, the Tahoe benefits from some technologies that limit the cumbersome feel typical of full-size SUVs. It's body features a high percentage of high-strength steel, and electric power steering helps save fuel while creating a light steering feel. 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. Nonetheless, simple physics create noticeable body lean and less than stellar agility.
The cabin is also much quieter than the previous Tahoes, matching nicely with the comfortable seating and stylish look. GM says it's put a lot of engineering effort into the Tahoe's functionality, safety, and infotainment features, and we agree. The Tahoe can accommodate between seven and nine passengers, depending on the chosen seating configuration. An available power-folding option for the second- and third-row seats make it easy to convert from passenger duty to cargo-hauling mode. The cabin's storage bins are quite useful too, with a center console bin deep enough to hold a tablet or small notebook computers.
The Tahoe tops an extensive safety package with GM's exclusive 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 ignition, an 8.0-inch LCD touchscreen radio with Chevy MyLink connectivity, a head-up display, a power tailgate, a cargo-management system, up to six USB ports and six power outlets, a Blu-ray DVD entertainment system, and up to 22-inch wheels.
The Tahoe—with a V-8 lump up front and heavy construction everywhere—isn't a mileage king, but still manages respectable numbers thanks to fuel-saving technology. With rear-drive, it's rated at 16 mpg city, 23 highway,18 combined. With four-wheel drive, the ratings are 16/22/18 mpg, according to the EPA. Real-world fuel economy may be better with cylinder deactivation however; the V-8 can shut off half of its cylinders on long-distance cruising.