Car Reviews

Review: Full-size Chevy Tahoe shines for its size

The Chevy Tahoe is essentially the same vehicle as the Chevrolet Suburban, but not as long and with less interior space. The Tahoe is essentially the same vehicle as the Chevrolet Suburban, but not as long and with less interior space.

By Jil McIntosh Wheels.ca

Feb 4, 2016 5 min. read

Article was updated 7 years ago

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Chevrolet Tahoe, SUV, Chevy, review, third row, seats,

Sometimes fate deals you a hand. This review was supposed to be about the Chevrolet Suburban, a vehicle that was completely redesigned for the 2015 model year. And I had a lovely one. It was bright red and fully loaded.

But the second day I had it, a distracted driver missed seeing this bright full-size SUV with tail lights and turn signals as big as billboards. He ran into the back of it. Although the other guy is probably still sorting things out with his insurance company, I simply went back to GM and picked up the Suburban’s little brother, the Chevy Tahoe.

The two are mechanical twins and each has three rows of seats, but the Suburban is longer and has both more legroom and cargo space. Both come in rear- or four-wheel drive. The Chevrolet models also form the basis of the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, and the Cadillac Escalade.

Pricing for the 2016 Tahoe, which is virtually identical to the 2015 except for some tweaked trim items, starts at $52,740 in two-wheel drive, and $56,040 for four-wheel, rising to a top-trim price of $71,410 before any options are added. The larger Suburban runs from $55,690 to $74,360.

The Suburban and Tahoe use a 5.3-litre V8 engine that’s new for these models, spinning out 355 horsepower versus the 320 horses in the previous version. The engine uses active fuel management, which seamlessly shuts off fuel to half the cylinders when full power isn’t needed. I averaged 16.1 L/100 km in combined driving, which is higher than the Tahoe’s published city rate of 15.1 L/100 km. That’s a high number for someone new to full-size SUVs, but the Tahoe has the best published fuel economy of its competitors.

Even the “smaller” Tahoe is a huge vehicle, but it doesn’t feel that way thanks to quick steering response and a stiff chassis that keeps body roll to a minimum. The electric power steering is well-tuned with its weight and feel, reducing the effort needed when spinning around parking lots at low speeds, but tightening up for more confidence on the highway.

Road imperfections are dealt with long before they make their way into the cabin. Even though this is essentially a truck, the ride was buttery-smooth. I had the mid-trim LT, but the top-line LTZ includes Magnetic Ride Control suspension, a sophisticated adaptive damping system first used on Cadillacs. Overall, the company has done a really good job with the driving experience.

All Tahoe 4x4 models have a drive setting that automatically reacts to road conditions and can be driven on hard, dry surfaces, but the optional two-speed transfer case on my tester could also be set into 4High or 4Low for off-road conditions. These vehicles are popular with those who tow boats or trailers but want more interior space than a pickup truck. Properly equipped, the 4x2 Tahoe can tow up to 3,900 kg (8,600 lbs.), while the 4x4 can pull 3,810 kg (8,400 lbs.).

The handsome and well-finished interior design is similar to the Chevrolet Silverado, with which the Tahoe shares its engine and underpinnings. The mid-range LT model includes leather upholstery, heated ten-way front seats, and a second-row, three-passenger split-bench seat that can be swapped out for two heated chairs as mine was.

Those two front rows are very comfortable, but it stops at the third row. There you’ll find a hard, flat bench perched atop the rear axle, where you get very little legroom and you sit with your chin on your knees. It’ll do for small children or those who really need a ride, but if you’re planning on regularly putting adults in the third row, Ford’s Expedition has a far roomier spot for them back there.

The Tahoe’s second and third rows fold flat for making the cargo space even larger.
RELATED: Towing to Sudbury in the 2015 Dodge Durango for a Snowmobile Adventure 

Gas prices and city parking have cut into sales of full-size, body-on-frame SUVs, but they still have a place for those who need their capacity. The Tahoe has some worthy competition, but this update has done a lot for it in terms of its performance, ride and interior. It’s big and it’s expensive, but it’s nice behind the wheel.
Jil McIntosh is a regular contributor to Toronto Star Wheels. The vehicle for this story was provided by the manufacturer. For more Toronto Star automotive coverage, go to thestar.com/autos . To reach Wheels Editor Norris McDonald: wheels@thestar.ca .

 2016 Chevy Tahoe

PRICE: $52,740, $68,435 as tested

ADD-ONS: $1,795 freight

TYPE: Full-size SUV

PROPULSION: Front-, rear- or four-wheel drive

CARGO: 433 L (behind third row); 1,461 L (third row folded)

TOW RATING: 4x2 3,900 kg (8,600 lbs.); 4x4 3,810 kg (8,400 lbs.)

ENGINE: 5.3-litre V8

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic

POWER/TORQUE: 355 horsepower/383 torque

FUEL CONSUMPTION (L/100 km, 4x4): 15.1 city, 10.4 hwy., 16.1 as tested

BRAKES: 4-wheel Duralife rotors

TIRES: P265/65R18 all season (standard); P275/55R20 all-season (as-tested)

STANDARD FEATURES: Eight-passenger seating; tri-zone automatic climate control; cruise control; ten-way driver’s seat; 110-volt power outlet; satellite radio; USB ports; OnStar; heated mirrors; rear park assist; backup camera; remote starter/tire pressure monitoring system

ACCESSIBILITY: It’s a climb up into the first and second row; the third row involves squeezing past the folded second row

COMPETITION: Dodge Durango, Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Armada, Toyota Sequoia


LOOKS — It’s a box with a big chrome front end

INTERIOR — Handsome and with its controls clustered by function for easy use

PERFORMANCE — The V8 is a sweet performer and fuel-efficient for its class

TECHNOLOGY — There’s a lot available, including a Wi-Fi hot spot, wireless charger, Siri Eyes Free, and Blu-Ray

WHAT YOU’LL LIKE ABOUT THIS CAR — It drives much smaller than it actually is

WHAT YOU WON’T LIKE ABOUT THIS CAR — Riding in the third row if you have legs

RATING: 9/10




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