5.3L V8 with Active Cylinder Management
355 @ 5600
383 @ 4100
15.1 / 10.4
7 (opt. 8)
433 - 2681
From the depths of suburbia, among other fantastic things, spawned the need for vehicles that are body on frame constructed and able to tow a small town. Bonus points awarded for passing through difficult terrain while doing that.
GM recently launched an all-new lineup of full-sized SUVs, all of which are body on frame and come with proper 4WD. While the fanciest one is the Escalade (Cadillac) (no low-range), the most affordable and “to-the-point “one is the Chevy Tahoe. The GMC Yukon completes the puzzle, narrowing the gap between the other two. Please note, that all three are offered with standard or long wheelbase.
For 2015, the Tahoe is very big, very heavy and quite powerful. What has grown significantly is its bag of tricks and much improved is the styling. The one and only engine option is the 5.3L V8, and even though you can have a RWD version, there is no reason for you to pick one. Prices start at $50,150 for the entry level 2WD LS but that is the one to avoid. The 4WD version of it is $53,450 and the one up LT 4WD is $61,250. The LTZ 4WD, at the top of the line, is $69,400 which with a few extras like our tester can reach $78,475.
The hard to swallow price is at least backed by a huge list of features. MyLink infotainment system with an 8″ touch screen, voice activated radio and phone, bluetooth, sirius radio, Magnetic ride control, auto locking differential, ‘AutoTrac’ Transfer case, remote starter that works from down town, trailering equipment, front and rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, side blind zone alert, lane departure control, forward collision warning, rear vision camera, stability control with trailer sway control, automatic headlamps and wipers, HID headlights, 22″ wheels, fog lights, power lift gate, leather appointed seats, heated front and rear bucket seats, Bose surround sound system, Keyless entry with push button start, 3rd row 60:40 power folding bench, heated steering wheel, power adjustable pedals and steering column, tri-zone auto climate control, 110V AC power outlet, 4.2″ colour info display, 6xUSB ports, wireless charging pad, tire pressure monitor, while the optional equipment fitted included the 9″ overhead display with blu-ray player, wireless headphones and remote control, power retractable assist steps, adaptive cruise control, power sunroof, navigation and the max trailer tow package.
The exterior design is modern, with the front grille extending its chrome liners around the split spectacle headlights, while on the side and rear, a modern touch of softened curves and muscular large surfaces sit on top of impressive 22″ rims.
Inside the versatile cabin, the utilitarian temperament has been dropped in favour of a much more SUV type of design. You now find soft to the touch panels, double stitched leather trimmed surfaces and luxurious accents throughout the cabin. You’ll be impressed by the amount of storage compartments and their sizes, the number of USB ports and the 110v power outlet and wireless phone charging pad. Air vents are everywhere and the sense of accommodation resembles that of the business class in a small plane more than a GM truck.
The driving position is upright, the gear lever is mounted on the steering column, the instrument cluster is signature GM and the foot pedals are adjustable. Visibility is amazing thanks to the large windows and increased height and as long as you are driving down spacious roads, the Tahoe is very easy to drive. Things are a bit different once you hit narrow alleys downtown or tight parking lots. It is funny how you can see everything away from the truck, but being able to see right next to you is not, due to the height. The large side mirrors, blind spot monitors, parking assist and rear view camera do their best to help, and indeed they do.
Space is perhaps the third most important element of this vehicle, but still, the amount of space available is insane. The trunk with all three rows up is 433 L which is pretty much equivalent to a roomy mid-sized sedan, while folding only the third row increases that number to a mind blowing 1,463 L. Max capacity is 2,681 L with all seats down; it will take quite some effort to fill that up. Loading is a bit tricky due to the high floor but the convenience of the power tail gate makes up a bit.
The rear seats in our tester where king chairs and not a bench, thus a two seat layout instead of three. Both seats are heated and big enough, very comfortable and come with armrests built in. In-between, there is much room to even fit a little desk to put your laptop on and work, or have your dog sit. The third row is able to fit three adults but only skinny and flexible ones. Not like me.
Weighing in at 2,577kg, a big engine is needed to make it move at decent pace. Up for the job is a 5.3L V8 with active cylinder management, outputting 355 HP and 383 lb-ft. It is able to cut half of the cylinders off when not needed but it delivers adequate performance when firing at full power. 0-100km/h comes in 7.7″ while pulling power on the go is always enough to speed up at a rapid rate. The 6-speed auto is smooth and ready to pull up-to 3,810 kg (8,500 lbs), which is the max towing capacity. Max payload is 798 kg (1,760 lbs) and with the massive loading area created when all seats are flat, I am thinking it is quite possible to reach it. Fuel economy however is impacted quite a bit, after all, it is a big heavy truck with plenty of drag, so despite being 10% more fuel efficient than the previous model, you can still expect to observe average fuel consumption numbers around 18.5lt/100km on a combined circle.
The magnetic ride control works quite well on easy to read surfaces, making the ride comfortable and refined. Sudden change of texture can upset the suspension quite a bit, but after the ride adjusts, subsequent bumps are dealt with much better. It is not the softest ride on the planet, but with all that weight, soft would mean chances to roll, so better safe than sorry. Try to turn hard in corners and you’ll immediately be reminded that this is a big and heavy piece of machinery. There is just too much inertia to handle and despite the very notable effort GM engineers have made to improve handling, the truck is just not happy turning at speed. It is just not made for that. On the contrary, it is made for carving its way through unpaved paths, and at that, it is very good. The 4×4 can be set electronically to 2WD high, Auto 4×4 High, 4H and 4L. It is a proper body on frame SUV with a real low range transfer box and that is a big plus. Standard features for hauling, include a tow mode for the gearbox, a manual gear select switch to override the auto selection and of course trailer brake control. Ground clearance is enough for reasonable off-roading and the approach and departure angles are clearly within the “reasonable” range as well.
The 2015 Tahoe is definitely a purpose built full-size SUV that excels in towing, hauling and pushing through reasonably hard terrain, while at the same time it feels like a modern SUV with tons of safety features and modern technology. In the LTZ trim, dare I say it also feels a bit luxurious. It does come in a bit pricey, but truth be told, you do get a lot for your money. Before you buy, make sure it will fit where you intend to park it.
Low-Range (4L) mode
Heavy on gas
Vague steering on highway