The Chevrolet Tahoe was completely redesigned for the 2015 model year, so for 2016 Tahoe carries over largely unchanged.
Tahoe is a full-size SUV capable of pulling heavy trailers or hauling lots of cargo or people or doing all those things at once. Staunchly upright in profile, the versatile Tahoe is closely related to the stretched-out Chevrolet Suburban, along with the GMC Yukon, Cadillac Escalade as well as the Silverado and Sierra pickups.
In addition to seating up to nine occupants, depending on seating configuration, the Tahoe possesses the muscle to carry a full load of passengers and all their luggage; and even to tow a boat in the process. Impressively capable off-road as well on the highway, Tahoe comes with four-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. Today, most SUVs are built like cars based on front-wheel-drive chassis and do not offer the towing ability or off-road capability of the Tahoe.
Though still built like a truck, this latest Tahoe exhibits more carlike traits than the prior generation. Inside the cabin, too, passengers can enjoy considerably more quietness than in past generations. As for amenities, a Tahoe LTZ is equipped to rival the Cadillac Escalade.
All Tahoe models use GM’s 5.3-liter V8, developing 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque, mating with a 6-speed automatic transmission. In addition to efficient direct injection, the V8 incorporates a cylinder deactivation system that helps cut fuel usage by shutting off half of the eight cylinders, while cruising along with a light load. Because there’s no vibration or clanking sounds, no one is likely to notice the switchover.
The 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe has been updated with an enhanced Driver Alert package that includes power-adjustable pedals, forward collision alert, lane keep assist, and a Safety Alert seat that produces pulsations to warn of possible dangers. A new radio includes OnStar 4G LTE with a wi-fi hub. Phone integration technology in MyLink adds Apple CarPlay capability.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given Tahoe five-star ratings in frontal-offset and side-impact crash-testing, though a three-star rollover score shrinks the overall rating to four-star. Six airbags are standard, though bucket-seat models add a front-center airbag. Options include a lane-departure warning, forward collision alert, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and front parking sensors.
Though completely redesigned for 2015, the Chevrolet Tahoe remains familiar in appearance: upright and indisputably boxy. Yet, the shape has a modern look.
Up front, it resembles a Chevrolet Silverado pickup, though no sheetmetal is shared. Overall, Tahoe is closer to the big, longer-wheelbase Chevrolet Suburban, as well as to the GMC Yukon. Tahoe and Yukon share a 116-inch wheelbase, versus 130 for the Suburban and Yukon XL.
Standing tall, the Tahoe exhibits a commanding aura, flaunting its angular body lines. And it should stand tall: High-strength steel is abundant.
The Tahoe LTZ gets additional bright trim on its grille, fascias, and bodysides, and includes power-retractable side steps.
The Tahoe interior features smooth curves. Materials have a more premium, upscale feel than those in the Silverado pickup.
High-up seating provides a broad view of the road ahead. Seats are nicely supportive, in a nearly silent cabin. An eight-inch LCD touch-screen radio includes the latest MyLink connectivity features. As many as six USB ports may be installed, along with half a dozen power outlets. A bin in the center console can hold a notebook-style computer or a tablet.
Standard eight-passenger seating includes 60/40 split-folding seats in second and third rows. Choosing second-row captain’s chairs drops capacity to seven, while a front bench seat allows the Tahoe to carry nine.
As expected, the third row is most suitable for youngsters. Cargo-area buttons permit stowing of the seats, to boost cargo volume.
With second- and third-row seats folded down, cargo space approaches 95 cubic feet. With the second-row seats up, that space dips near 51 cubic feet.
With that husky V8 under the hood, the Tahoe promises strength. Behind the wheel, it feels powerful around town, as well as on the highway. Better yet, the engine teams capably with GM’s smooth, easy-shifting automatic transmission, yielding practically seamless acceleration.
Yet, it’s an impressively efficient SUV, easier and more satisfying to drive than in the past. That old trucklike sensation is gone, engineered out of the equation. Despite a leaf-spring rear suspension, the Tahoe rides reasonably comfortably and doesn’t feel nearly as ponderous as full-size SUVs of the past.
Towing capacity is rated to 8,600 pounds, when appropriately equipped.
Electric power steering yields a light feel, belying this SUV’s heft. Because of the Tahoe’s basic shape, however, body lean is inevitable and agile handling is not a strong point. A standard rearview camera eases backup maneuvers.
With four-wheel drive, a Tahoe performs capably off-road. We recommend getting the four-wheel drive.
Tahoe LTZ features GM’s Magnetic Ride Control, yielding impressive comfort even when the road gets twisty. Analyzing conditions every 5 seconds, the system automatically matches damper firmness to the road surface.
Undeniably a heavyweight at close to 5,500 pounds, the Tahoe is no miser at the gas pump, even with cylinder deactivation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel economy at 16/23 mpg City/Highway with two-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive models drop slightly to 16/22 mpg. Either way, the EPA Combined figure is 18 mpg.
The Chevrolet Tahoe is a good choice for towing capacity in an SUV. It offers roomy seating for four adults and their gear, or with capacity for up to nine. A Tahoe 4WD is a capable vehicle in rough terrain.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.