Offering more compact dimensions than Chevrolet's larger Suburban but a more rugged body-on-frame design than the automaker's Traverse crossover, the Chevrolet Tahoe is the "just right" option for buyers looking for a vehicle with strong towing and off-roading capabilities that will also fit in a normal parking space.
Available with either seven or eight-passenger seating and the ability to tow up to 8,500 lbs., the Tahoe offers a wide variety of configurations that have made it a hit with buyers since its 1995 introduction. Now in its third generation, the current Tahoe was unveiled in 2007 alongside its mechanically identical GMC Yukon sibling. A handful of small changes - namely, the substitution of a more sophisticated six-speed automatic transmission, have been made since the current model hit the road.
Today, all Tahoes and Yukons are built in Arlington, Texas. Riding on a rugged steel frame, the Tahoe features a simple but plush solid rear axle suspended by coil springs. An automatic locking rear differential is available to increase traction.
All Tahoes are equipped with a 5.3-liter Vortec V8 that puts out 320 horsepower and 335 lb-ft. of torque. The Tahoe's six-speed automatic transmission features two overdrive gears for increased high-speed fuel economy. The EPA officially rates the Tahoe at 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway A Tahoe Hybrid is also available for buyers who place a high premium on efficiency.
Tahoes come standard with rear-wheel-drive, but all trim levels are offered with all-wheel-drive with a choice of single-speed or two-speed transfer cases. With the two-speed transfer case, the Tahoe features an automatic four-wheel-drive mode that can be used on any terrain.
Trim Level Breakdown
Tahoe LS and LT models feature front bucket seats and two rows of bench seats. Unlike some rivals, the rearmost bench seat folds but does not stow into the cargo area. Instead, it must be removed from the vehicle for maximum space. Tahoe LTZ models come standard with individual bucket seats for the second row, a feature that is optional on Tahoe LTs.
Tahoe LSs feature standard Bluetooth, cloth seats and 17-inch alloy wheels. LT models add leather trim, parking assist, automatic climate controls, OnStar, remote start and a locking rear differential. Range-topping LTZ models include heated and cooled front bucket seats, an upgraded Bose audio system, navigation, 20-inch alloy wheels and a power rear liftgate.
An optional Z71 package adds appearance and mechanical upgrades like skid plates, monotube shock absorbers, on/off road tires and fender flares to both two and four-wheel-drive models.
Standard safety features include dual front, front side and side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
Despite rising gas prices and looming government fuel economy regulations, buyers can still find a range of brand new full-size, body-on-frame SUVs. Besides the Tahoe, these include the Ford Expedition, the Toyota Sequoia and the Nissan Armada.