– Decent styling
– Cabin trim and features
– Fuel economy
– Truck-like handling
– Low front bumper
– Third row fit for kids only
The Chevrolet Tahoe has been around for a couple of decades now, having spawned from the Suburban in the early 90s, and currently happens to be one of General Motors’ best-selling vehicles. Starting life as a slightly-more-affordable alternative to the Toyota Land Cruiser in this region, the Tahoe has somewhat succeeded in establishing its own segment over the years as the Japanese alternatives moved on to a more premium bracket. Although flawed in some ways, the Tahoe has always been good value for money. With an overhaul for 2015, the General aimed at making the all-new 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe a stronger proposition than ever. And when we rented a basic nearly-new Tahoe LS 4×4, we decided to find that out for ourselves.
After years of generally handsome designs, the new Tahoe is also attractive in our eyes, although many others disagree. The redone front fascia largely make for the refreshing looks, while the side and rear profiles now get sharper lines and an edgy stance. However, it still retains the overall boxy shape and huge wheel-wells. The front-end of the Tahoe appears a tad low-slung for a large SUV, and the unnecessarily-low lip underneath the front bumper, apparently there for the sake of aerodynamics, only hurts the approach angle and the ground clearance even more. The Z71 variant should likely sort out the clearance issues though.
More than the outer design, it is the interior that seems to have received more attention from GM, as they have finally got rid of those dated looks and the cheap hard plastics, for the most part. Crafted with stitched-leatherette dashboard, soft-touch padding in many of the upper panels, better-quality hard plastics surrounding the lower panels, and excellent fit and finish, the Chevy manages to best many of its direct rivals, save for the Nissan Patrol.
Talk about tech and features, and the new Tahoe does not disappoint. Some of the available features now include a standard 4.2-inch colour display or an optional 8-inch MyLink infotainment system, rear parking camera, automatic tri-zone air-conditioner with separately controlled rear a/c, hill-descent control, premium sound system from Bose, powered tilt and telescopic steering with memory setting, ventilated seats, powered second and third-row seats, powered liftgate with programmable height, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision alert, and real-time damping suspensions.
The new Chevrolet Tahoe is more spacious than the previous generation, and happens to be the only large SUV with a 9-seater configuration, with a bench seat in front, but only in this base spec. Higher trims get two individual seats in front. There is good head, leg, and hip space in the front and second rows, but the third-row seats are a joke, as the floor sits so high — thanks to a solid-axle rear suspension setup — that the seat occupants are forced to sit in a squatting position, making the third row useful only for small kids. Moreover, the third-row seats flat-fold ‘onto’ the floor and not ‘into’ it, thus forming a raised platform that sits pretty high. There are enough storage cubbies and cup-holders for all the occupants, and 12 device charging points even.
Powering the new Tahoe is the same old 5.3-litre V8 engine mated to a 6-speed gearbox, tweaked to crank out 355 hp at 5600 rpm and 519 Nm of torque at 4100 rpm, and featuring fuel-saving cylinder deactivation tech which can deactivate up to 4 cylinders to save fuel. And the fuel-saving tech did surprise us with some astonishing fuel-efficiency figures for a V8 behemoth, which hovered at 13.5 litres/100 km, and dropping as low as 11.2 litres/100 km on highways. Doubting the accuracy of the in-built trip computer, we even ran manual calculations, only to confirm the trip-computer readings.
However, GM seems to have forgotten about performance in pursuit of fuel-efficiency, as the throttle response in the new Tahoe is awful. There is significant throttle delay as it seems to be tuned for casual city driving, needing to be floored to get the Tahoe moving with any zest. Even at highway speeds, overtaking maneuvers require some throttle-planning, and a mild right foot is not going to help in slight speed increases, not even gradually. But floor the pedal to the metal, and the power surge that follows the horrific throttle response is terrific, catching unwary drivers off-guard. In warm October weather, our Tahoe consistently clocked the 0-100 km dash in 8.2 seconds, which is adequate for its size. The 6-speed auto gearbox is smooth with decent gear ratios, although the column shifter is a daft reminder of its work-truck roots.
The Tahoe offers a fairly quiet ride at moderate speeds, although we did not find it to be as ‘exceptional’ as Chevy claims. There is a fair amount of wind noise beyond 120 kph, while only a slight hum is heard from the engine unless on full throttle. Road noise is minimal and the ride is largely smooth, except for some occasional jitters and slight bounciness on uneven roads, making the Tahoe’s truckish origins evident. Surprisingly though, even with fully inflated tyres, we found the ride in the new Tahoe to be less harsh in off-road driving such as sandy gravel tracks, more so than the Toyota Land Cruiser even.
Handling is as expected from a typical truck-based SUV. Despite having improved from the previous generation, the handling still remains soft with significant body roll, although not to the point of being tipsy. Things are hopefully better with the real-time damping suspension setup available in the higher trims, assuming you want to pay the sizeable premium. The new electric power steering setup offers no feedback, but the tight turning radius makes the Tahoe easily maneuverable in the city, which is a great plus for a vehicle of this size.
Available in both two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive configurations, the latter offers proper low-range gearing. We did not venture too far off-road for fear of breaking things, owing to the unimpressive ground clearance. And yet, the Tahoe seemed very promising. Loose sand and even some mild dunes were a walk in the park. Figuring out the throttle behavior and timing it correctly to utilise the engine power is all it takes. With ample torque available in the lower end, we feel powering over tall dunes should not be an issue with the Tahoe, provided that front lower lip is removed. With the Z71 off-road model, things will likely be a lot more interesting, but again, the price of that encroaches into Nissan Patrol territory.
That being said, once we had engaged 4-high with a locked centre differential in our nearly brand new Tahoe and started driving around in the loose sand, we could hear some occasional mechanical clanking noises seemingly coming from the transfer case. The noise seemed very identical to the one we heard from the damaged transfer case of an older GMC Envoy we took off-road very recently, although we never ran into any troubles or did any major offroading in that case either. We’ll consider it as a one-off incident, until we hear from other owners.
So in its new iteration, the all-new Chevrolet Tahoe looks and feels better than ever. It has always been a decent value proposition, and now offers a lot more in terms of features and safety, as long as you don’t need to carry adults in the last row. It is easily the most fuel-efficient body-on-frame V8 4×4 in its class by a long shot. The Tahoe is a solid entry in a hotly-contested segment.
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