There must be a reason federal and state government law enforcement agencies buy a lot of Chevy Tahoe SUVs - black Tahoe’s in particular. Perhaps it’s because they’re a proven SUV with loads of comfortable interior space, ample power and they’ve been on the market for many years.
Tahoe is a perennial favorite for those who need a full-size, versatile, 4WD SUV. And buyers can graduate from it to Chevy’s even larger Suburban SUV if they need more capacity.
Built on a truck-based frame, compliments of Chevy’s Silverado pickup, Tahoe is heavy duty and properly equipped can tow up to 8,600 pounds (2WD) and 8,100 pounds with 4WD. Enough for large boats, utility trailers, even a two-horse trailer plus. And it comes standard with a trailer brake controller.
Tahoe is offered 2WD and 4WD and in LS, LT and Premier trim models, the latter of which was tested. There is also a Midnight Edition and Z71 Off-Road Special Edition models. The Z71 gets an off-road tuned suspension, off-road tires, skid plates, off-road tubular assist steps, fog lamps, tow hooks, sill plates, 3.42 rear axle, 2-speed transfer case, hill descent control and much more. It’s the consummate off-roader if you need to get into the outback.
The three-rowTahoe is unique in that it can be configured to seat up to nine with a front bench seat, or seven in the Premier that is configured with captain’s chairs in the second row and a 60/40 bench in the third row.
Tahoe can be ordered with a choice of two powertrains: a 5.3-liter, V8 putting out 355-hp and 383 lb/ft of torque (15/21mpg w/4WD) when mated to a standard 6-speed automatic transmission. And the tested, 6.2-liter V8 with 420-hp and 460 lb/ft of torque. This couples to a 10-speed automatic transmission for EPA mileage estimates of 14 city, 22-highway mpg (4WD). And this is with GM’s Active Fuel Management system that shuts down four cylinders during cruise speeds.
Given the Tahoe Premier’s curb weight of 5,632 pounds, the 6.2L is the ideal choice if you’re going to do any serious towing.
So powered, the 6.2L had loads of grunt from a standing stop and during passing maneuvers. There’s certainly no want for power, especially with four people aboard.
Step-in into the cabin is a 23-inch stretch, but only 13 with the powered retractable running boards when any door is opened/closed. From there you’re treated to luxury accommodations with adjustable pedals and heavily padded heated/cooled, perforated leather seats. The cabin offers an expanse of spaciousness.
Press the keyless ignition switch and an 8-inch touchscreen comes to life offering a host of features such as voice recognition, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot capability, weather apps, texting, navigation, audio and rearview camera systems.
Tahoe’s HVAC system is easy to operate with large controls that can be operated with gloved hands. And the gauge cluster offers a driver’s information display with associated instrumentation offering real pressure gauges with actual numbers instead of a facsimile as on most crossover/SUVs today.
We especially liked the 4WD system that offers the typical 2WD, 4WD High and 4WD Low gearing, but has an Auto mode wherein the AWD system kicks in when wheel slippage occurs. Nice to have on wet roads.
Atop the padded console box is a recessed wireless smartphone charger, a convenience that coincides with added high-tech safety features and warnings such as lane keep assist, lane change alert, blind side alert, rear cross traffic alert and forward collision alert that not only gives a visual warning, but the drivers’ seat bottom buzzes/vibrates as an added warning when a collision is sensed.
Second row captain’s chairs are comfy and heated. They power forward for easier third row ingress/egress.
Open the powered liftgate and you’ll notice a feature that has disappeared on most SUVs. The tailgate window opens separately from the liftgate. An appreciable feature when having to carry lengthy items that won’t fit inside the cabin.
Within the cargo area is a cargo organizer that comes with the Premier package. It’s an according type, multi-pocket organizer for paperwork, even a few plastic grocery bags.
The cargo area, with the seats upright, offers only 15.3 cubic feet of storage space. It measures 13.5 inches deep, 49.5 wide and 29.75 high. But press two buttons and the third row automatically flips forward opening up 30 inches of cargo depth for 51.7 cubic feet. Flip the second row and depth increases to 94.7 cubic feet for 79 inches of loading depth, a full 6.5 feet.
For small item storage, there’s a 3-inch deep bin beneath the rearmost cargo floor.
With standard Magnetic Ride Control and huge 22-inch Bridgestone tires shod on 6-bolt rims, Tahoe rides smoothly and quietly. Admittedly, it’s not a breeze to park in tight spots. But it makes up for this with its inherent safe, secure feeling. Handling wise, it hugs the road with tenacity and tight, sharp turns must be negotiated with care as it’s a big vehicle and not a sports car.
As a large SUV, it also has a large price. The base price started at $65,600 and that’s with an extremely long list of standard features and luxury items. The only extra cost option was for the Premier Plus Edition package ($11,675) that included the 6.2L V8. With delivery, the Tahoe bottom-lined at $70,070.
Considering what some of the comparable Euro and Asian competitors offer, Tahoe’s price is on par with them with the advantage that it can actually go off-road and is not a cosmetic SUV in name. That, plus it has appreciable tow capacity.
If needing a three-row, true SUV, Tahoe deserves consideration. Another plus is that Chevy has more country-wide dealer networks than the competition in case service is quickly needed.