The Chevrolet Tahoe is an old-school, truck-based SUV with lots of modern amenities. Looking for that big rig for family road trips and hauling a boat or other toys? The Tahoe can get the job done in comfort. Many buyers agree—the Tahoe is the most popular large SUV in the U.S. for 2017, and it’s the second-best seller for Chevy, right behind the Suburban.
The Tahoe has been around since 1992 and is now in its fourth generation. It’s built on the same platform as its more upscale cousin, the Cadillac Escalade. The two vehicles actually have a lot in common. The main thing lacking on the Tahoe is the Cadillac badge.
The Tahoe is available in LS, LT and Premier trims with starting prices ranging from $47,450 to $62,130. Prices, though, can escalate in a hurry with packages and options. Rear-wheel drive is standard and four-wheel-drive can be added to any trim for an additional $3,000.
Seating for eight passengers is standard, but you can get a Tahoe with room for nine if you opt for the front bench seat. Or you can have room for seven if you choose captain’s chairs in the second row.
The standard engine is a 5.3-liter V8 paired with a six-speed automatic that produces 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. The Premier trim has the option of a 6.2-liter V8 and 10-speed automatic that makes 420 hp and 460 lb.-ft. Both engines come with Active Fuel Management that disables the engine’s cylinders that aren’t being used in order to maximize fuel efficiency.
My tester is the RST, which stands for Rally Sport Truck, the performance version of the Tahoe that comes with the 6.2-liter V8, the 10-speed and Magnetic Ride Control. Chevy describes Magnetic Ride Control as “an active suspension that reads the road every millisecond, triggering damping changes in the electronically controlled shock absorbers in as few as 5 milliseconds. As a result, the suspension delivers both improved body-motion control during cornering and a more comfortable ride while cruising.”
Despite the Tahoe being a truck-based SUV, the ride is civilized and super comfortable. This rig is made for family road trips. There’s more than enough get-up-and-go for merging and passing at freeway speeds, even when the rig is loaded with passengers and gear. Steering is precise but because of the Tahoe’s sheer size and height, you’ll want to slow down when taking corners. You’ll especially notice the Tahoe’s bulk when trying to maneuver in tight spaces or in busy city traffic. It took some effort to get the Tahoe to fit in my assigned parking space in downtown Portland. Thank goodness for the standard rear view camera and rear parking sensors!
Fuel economy is pretty good for a honkin’ truck-based SUV. EPA ratings for my tester are 14 mpg city and 22 mpg highway with a combined rating of 17. I got 17 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The attractive cabin has an upscale vibe with premium, soft-touch materials. Passengers in the first two rows enjoy lots of space, and second-row passengers enjoy comfy, reclining seats. The third row is fairly cramped and best suited for kids.
Controls are sensibly laid out and easy to reach. There’s a lot of tech including the user-friendly MyLink infotainment system and its crisp graphics and quick response time. The Tahoe has a built-in WiFi hot spot that lets you connect up to seven devices. Android Auto and Aple CarPlay let you easily hook up your smartphone to the system.
Standard features in the Chevy Tahoe include cloth upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, tri-zone automatic climate control, eight-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, satellite radio, USB ports, rearview camera, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, Wi-Fi hot spot with OnStar 4G LTE, and rear parking sensors.
Options include push-button start, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, 2-way power-adjustable front seats, navigation, 10-speaker Bose surround-sound system, wireless charging for smartphones, and several driver assistance technologies including lane keep assist, forward collision warning, a safety alert seat, low-speed emergency braking, front parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, lane change alert, and rear cross traffic alert.
The cabin is very quiet. I drove the Tahoe during an impressive downpour and could barely hear the pounding rain and road noise.
When you turn off the ignition, all Tahoes flash a message reminding you to check the rear seats for kids, pets or items you don’t want to leave behind.
The Tahoe has less cargo space than many rivals with 15.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 51.7 with the third row folded and 94.7 with both rows of seating folded down. Options include a power-folding third row and hands-free power liftgate.
When properly equipped, the Tahoe can tow up to 8,600 pounds.
Civilized ride for a truck-based SUV
Attractive cabin with nice materials
Lower starting price than some rivals
Fuel economy isn’t bad for a large SUV
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard
It still drives much like a truck, albeit a nice, cushy one
Not much room in the third row
Can be tough to maneuver in smaller spaces
Rivals offer more cargo space
Prices climb in a hurry for the higher trims and options
My tester starts at $65,130. The RST 6.2L Performance Edition package is $5,450 and adds rear axle 3.23 ratio, trailer brake controller, air cleaner, 170 amp generator, the 6.2-liter V8 Ecotec3 engine, 10-speed automatic transmission, active noise cancellation, and transfer case 2-speed. The sun, entertainment and Destination package is $2,885 and adds a power sunroof, rear seat entertainment and additional nine months of satellite radio. Performance front brake kit is $2,795. Eight-inch diagonal reconfigurable cluster with head up display is $850. All-weather floor liner in the first and second rows and bright finish badge are $250. Destination charge is $1,295 bringing the grand total to $78,155.
Sure, you can always consider a minivan to haul the family. But if you want a vehicle that can pack the kids and pets and also all of your gear and tow a boat or trailer and even do some off-roading, the Tahoe can do all that and more with plenty of power, comfort and technology.