Over eighty years ago General Motors had a novel idea. What if one of the company’s truck chassis was married to a multi-passenger wagon body? The concept seemed simple enough and by 1935 Chevrolet began selling the Suburban to the public.
|Engine: Power for the Tahoe comes from a 5.3 L V8 making 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque.
Transmission: All Tahoes come with a six-speed automatic transmission and a choice of rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
Fuel Economy: The 2015 Tahoe is officially rated at 16 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway.
Pricing: The 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe starts at $45,595 after destination charges, with LTZ models at $65,595.
Some consider these trucks to be antiquated dinosaurs struggling harder than Blackberry to stay relevant in today’s world. However, despite declining sales, there’s still a dedicate customer core that loves these do-it-all trucks. Last year sales of the Chevrolet Tahoe actually rebounded a bit and 83,502 of these body-on-frame behemoths were sold. Include the sales of the Tahoe’s corporate cousins and GM controls three quarters of the full-size SUV segment.
Shocking! New Tahoe Follows Release of New Silverado
As predictable as an episode of Dukes of Hazzard, with an all-new Silverado arriving last year, we all knew a redesigned Tahoe would surely follow for 2015.
Well, redesigned may be a bit of a stretch.
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These Sport Utilities have never really strayed from the same formula since day one, receiving only necessary updates here and there to remain current.
That doesn’t mean the new Tahoe isn’t a ground-up redesign. It’s essentially all new from the tires to the roof rack. However, it’s easily identifiable as it retains the same boxy five-door shape adorning this vehicle since 1995. Aside from the interesting new swept headlights, the SUV is not as tall as the 2013 model, but is a bit longer and a bit wider. Add in a wider rear track and the updated Tahoe has a more planted and aggressive look. A choice of three wheel options will be offered in 18-, 20- and 22-inch sizes.
New V8, Same Displacement
To keep things simple, the Tahoe will be available in three familiar trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ. All trucks receive a new member of the EcoTec3 family of engines, a 5.3 L V8 making 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. It is paired to a six-speed automatic transmission for both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive models.
Even with a 35 hp power bump over the old model, the 5.3-liter is merely adequate in the new Tahoe. We were able to sample the 420 hp 6.2-liter V8 housed in the GMC Yukon Denali and the extra wallop of power is welcome in a truck this size, especially considering the larger engine’s combined fuel economy rating is only rated one mpg worse than the 5.3-liter.
The Tahoe has always had a parchment for gas and the new truck is no different. To help keep fuel consumption in check, all the trucks have an aluminum hood and liftgate as well as inlaid doors that fit into the body instead on top of the body for improved aerodynamics. This allows the more powerful 2015 Tahoe to be officially rated at 16 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway for rear-wheel drive models. That’s one MPG better in the city and two more MPG on the highway than 2013 model.
A Proper Rugged SUV
Those sad at the amount of body-on-frame SUVs that have become softer unibody crossovers, here is your truck. It has a two-range transfer case and optional integrated trailer brake controls which should come in handy as the Tahoe can tow 8,600 lbs. in rear-wheel drive configurations and 8,400 lbs. with four-wheel drive versions.
Like the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra introduced last year, the new Tahoe has made great strides in eliminating outside noise, vibrations and harshness. We expected as much, but were still very surprised on how quiet this large truck had become. Our particular test vehicle was the LTZ trim, which includes GM’s magnetic ride control suspension. It makes this heavy-weight SUV quite a softy when it comes to road manners. All bumps, dips and broken roads were not allowed to be transmitted up into the cabin thanks to this trick suspension. Unfortunately we did not have the chance to sample a LS or LT Tahoe with the regular suspension as we are curious if it rides anywhere near as well as the magnetic ride setup.
Upscale Inside and Absent of Teal Stitching
The interior of the new Tahoe represents a new styling direction for future Chevrolet Crossovers and SUVs. There has been a noticeable improvement in materials used as well as the way everything has been assembled. Cheap plastics and faux stitching (especially teal) no longer dominate the interior of this SUV. The Tahoe has come a long way from its more utilitarian roots in the mid-1990s.
Pricing for the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe LS 2WD starts at $45,595 after destination charges, which is an increase of roughly $4,000 over the 2013 version. Our loaded Tahoe LTZ 4WD came in at $67,040 thanks to options like the Sun, Entertainment and Destination package as well as the Maximum Trailering package.
This vehicle has always been about hauling people, cargo and the odd trailer. Legroom in the second row has grown two-inches compared to the old model. Third row legroom is still a bit cramped in the Tahoe at 24.8-inches and those interested in regularly transporting adults back there will probably want to look into a Suburban which offers a more livable 34.5-inches of legroom. Up to 9 people can be carried in the Tahoe as each row is offered in three-passenger bench configurations. Our test vehicle was a seven-passenger model with bucket seats in both the front and second row. We were able to fit two six-foot-plus staff members in the middle row seats with ample head, leg and shoulder room to spare.
To keep up to nine people entertained, no fewer than six USB ports and six power outlets can be option in the Tahoe as well as a 110-volt three prong plug. When it comes time to hauling gear, for the first time ever, the Tahoe features second and third row seats that fold flat-ish onto the floor to produce a colossal 95 cubic feet of cargo room.
If most of this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. As we mentioned, the Tahoe really hasn’t strayed far from the same formula that has been used for decades. The expected updates have been made here and there to keep the truck relevant, but other than that, it is business as usual.
And this isn’t surprising as nothing ground breaking has happened in the full-size SUV segment in quite some time. Aside from a new engine in the Ford Expedition this year, most large SUVs haven’t been touched by their respective manufacturers in years. The simple fact Chevrolet has made the effort to improve the Tahoe is cause enough for celebration and should be sufficient in keeping a dedicated consumer base coming back for more.