2018 Chevrolet Tahoe
The Chevy Tahoe is a comfortable workhorse that can tow heavy trailers, transport up to nine passengers, haul large or heavy cargo, routinely traverse rugged terrain, or smoothly gobble up miles and miles of Interstate highway.
Tahoe comes standard with a 5.3-liter V8 and a choice of rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, in five-, seven-, or eight-passenger configurations.
For 2018, Tahoe offers a new version of the base model that omits the third row of seats while offering desirable upgrades. The 2018 Tahoe RST Package (Rally Sport Truck) is a five-passenger model that includes a magnetic suspension, along with the option of 6.2-liter V8 or the 5.3-liter. Brawny 16.1-inch Brembo brakes also are available.
Last redesigned for 2015, the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe lineup is otherwise largely unchanged.
Most models come with GM’s EcoTec3 5.3-liter V8 that develops 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque, mating with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The Tahoe RST may be opted with a 6.2-liter V8 and 10-speed automatic transmission. The optional 6.2-liter V8 cranks out 420-horsepower and 460 pound-feet.
Unlike crossovers, Tahoes have a separate body atop a ladder-type chassis. A suitably equipped Tahoe is rated to tow as much as 8,400 pounds. Curb weight totals at least 5,600 pounds. Tahoe offers more ground clearance and its rugged construction and suspension enables it to endure routine pounding over rugged terrain that would wear out a crossover in a relatively short period of time.
EPA fuel economy for a 5.3-liter Tahoe 2WD is 16/23 mpg City/Highway, 15/22 mpg with four-wheel drive.
Suburban offers nearly the same fuel economy, with increased stability for towing and greater cargo capacity, but Tahoe is easier to park and takes up less space in the driveway. Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL take the basic Tahoe/Yukon package and stretch it by about 10 inches for greater room.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2017 Tahoe four stars overall, but five stars for both frontal and side impacts. Resistance to rollovers earned just three stars, which isn’t shocking for vehicles with a high center of gravity.
Several advanced collision-avoidance features are standard on Tahoe LT and Premier models, and optional for LS. They include automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and automatic high-beams. In addition to audible alerts, the driver feels a buzz from the seat when a warning is issued. Adaptive cruise control is a Premier option.
The 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe LS ($47,450) comes with rear-wheel drive and the 5.3-liter V8. Standard features include rearview camera, 18-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, and wi-fi hotspot functionalist. A new Custom option omits the third row and substitutes 17-inch wheels. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $1,295 destination charge.
Four-wheel drive is available for each trim level ($3,000).
Tahoe LT ($52,580) upgrades with leather seating surfaces, heated front seats with memory, Bose premium audio, a power liftgate, forward collision alert, and lane-keep assist.
Tahoe Premier ($62,130) comes with heated/ventilated front seats, HID headlights, navigation, 20-inch wheels, and magnetic dampers.
RST includes 22-inch wheels, special trim, and the option of a 6.2-liter V8, Borla exhaust and Brembo front brakes.
The Tahoe is a full-size SUV, shorter than the Suburban. Crisp, clean body lines give Tahoe a timeless look. It’s an attractive vehicle.
In profile, it’s a basic two-box vehicle with squared-off lines. Details make the difference between today’s Tahoe and its predecessors. Up front, a chrome-laden grille, flanked by unusual partially split headlights, conveys an expressive appearance. Less detailing is evident at the rear.
The new RST model cuts back on chrome, in favor of black and body-colored trim.
Comfortable and carlike, the Tahoe cabin offers plenty of space for people and cargo, augmented by an appropriately upscale aura. Even the base LS model benefits from soft-touch materials, as well as stitched door panels and dashboard.
Swoopy in appearance, the dashboard is sensibly organized. Most controls are mounted high and are easy to reach and operate.
Front bucket seats offer supreme comfort, even for day-long drives. On special order as a fleet model, a front bench can substitute for the twin buckets.
Second-row seats aren’t quite so comfortable. Outboard riders can expect ample space and good support. The middle position of the 40/60-split bench is tight, but acceptable for short jaunts.
Optional twin captain’s chairs make it easier for passengers to reach the third row, which is more spacious than expected. Agile adults should have no trouble getting there, after using a lever or button to fold down the second row.
Choosing seating configurations is one of the most important decisions when ordering a Tahoe to ensure it best fits your needs. Captain’s chairs offer more comfort, for example, but the center console between them eliminates the large, flat cargo floor and prevents having a solid barrier of seat backs when transporting a dog or cargo. Bench seats, conversely, are more difficult to pass through when moving rearward.
Cargo capacity excels, totaling an impressive 52 cubic feet with second-row seatbacks upright. With all seatbacks raised, cargo volume sinks to 15.3 cubic feet.
Tahoe drivers can expect to experience a traditional truck feel, but this sizable heavyweight doesn’t seem as antiquated as its traditional specifications might suggest: The Tahoe is a stable and supremely comfortable highway cruiser and it rides quite nicely on rougher roads.
Capabilities for towing beat crossover models. Properly equipped, Tahoes can tow up to 8,600 pounds. Tow/haul mode limits the transmission’s tendency to downshift too soon.
Measured against crossovers, cars that look like SUVs, Tahoe handling is best described as ponderous, though steering feels more precise than in the past. Ride quality scores better, because soft coil-spring suspensions cope effectively with large bumps. The smooth ride refutes the Tahoe’s pickup-truck heritage. Models with 17- or 18-inch wheels ride best, demonstrating good body control and a soft overall feel.
Not only is the Tahoe’s 5.3-liter V8 smoothly powerful, it sounds strong and rich, mating neatly with the 6-speed automatic. In low-load conditions, the V8 can run using only half of its cylinders, to improve highway fuel economy.
Tahoe handles rugged terrain well, especially in terms of durability. It can handle routine travel on gravel roads and two tracks. For more challenging terrain, its size can become a challenge, however. Optional four-wheel drive can be upgraded with a two-speed transfer case, useful for mud and steep grades.
Tahoe RST offers a tauter suspension, bigger Brembo brakes, and more potent V8, giving it a tuner feel. Over lumpy terrain, GM’s Magnetic Ride Control improves ride quality while tightening handling.
For such a large vehicle, fuel economy isn’t bad. With rear-wheel drive, the 2018 Tahoe is EPA-rated at 16/23 mpg City/Highway, or 19 mpg Combined. Four-wheel drive drops the estimate to 16/22/18 mpg. The newly optional 6.2-liter V8 guzzles Premium-grade gasoline. With rear-wheel drive, the Tahoe RST is EPA-rated at 14/23 mpg City/Highway, or 17 mpg Combined. Four-wheel drive reduces the RST estimate to 14/22/17 mpg.
The Chevrolet Tahoe is highly capable at towing and hauling and travel over rugged roads. Tahoe models are equipped well and are comfortable for long trips.
Driving impressions by Andrew Ganz, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.
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