When it comes to full size traditional SUV’s based on a good ‘ol American truck chassis, the Chevrolet Tahoe is unarguably the king of the hill in terms of popularity and sales. Having been around in its current form since 2007, the Tahoe is expected soldier on into 2012 with few changes and continues to top sales charts for full-sized SUV’s.
In September Chevrolet sold some 8,813 Tahoes which dwarfs the Ford Expedition which sold 3,473 copies. While both vehicles have not seen any significant updates since 2007, the Tahoe as well as its platform mates GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade continue to be strong sellers.
While large changes are coming in the next year with an all new replacement for the Tahoe, we take a look at what continues to make it America’s favorite. In short, it just does everything right and looks good doing it. In long, it remains a benchmark because if offers great spaciousness and towing capability, along with a precise driving feel, robust performance and excellent interior refinement.
It also delivers surprising fuel economy for its size. The 5.3 liter V8 which has been around for some time continues to be a robust and refined engine with a lot of punch, churning out some 320hp. And in the real world, many owners see 20+ mpg on the highway. A fuel-saving Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed is standard on all models, enhancing real-world fuel economy on the highway via reduced engine speed. Also, quietness in the interior is enhanced with the lower-rpm engine speed on the highway.
For the ultimate full-size SUV fuel economy, customers can select the Tahoe Hybrid. It employs GM’s patented two-mode hybrid system to deliver a 33-percent improvement in fuel economy in city driving. Please see the separate Tahoe Hybrid release for complete details.
All models are built on GM’s full-size SUV platform that incorporates features such as a fully boxed frame, coil-over-shock front suspension, rack-and-pinion steering and a premium interior that bolsters the vehicle’s comfort, quality and capability. Wide front and rear tracks enhance handling and lower the center of gravity for a more confident road feel.
Another top reason the Tahoe remains a top seller is it styling. It just looks good. Tahoe features the global face of Chevrolet, with a large Chevy gold bowtie, centered on a twin-port horizontal grille. The body-color grille surround is inset with an argent texture or available chrome finish. Fog lamps and headlamps feature detailed optics. The lower fascia, incorporating the front license plate holder and integrated recovery hooks, is aggressively styled with a skid plate look that enhances Tahoe’s rugged, off-road appearance.
An assortment of 17-inch, 18-inch and 20-inch wheels complements Tahoe’s sporty appearance. Seventeen-inch wheels and tires are standard, with 18-inch wheels included with the Z71 package and 20-inch factory-installed wheels available. The larger wheels give the vehicle a more confident stance.
The interior is another place the Tahoe wins. Refinement throughout the spacious interior creates an environment that exudes quality and precision, as well as comfort. A two-tone color scheme offers softer and low-gloss materials for the instrument panel and other trim pieces.
Additional details include LED backlighting for the instruments and chrome accents on instruments and vents. Flush-mounted accessories and controls, such as the climate control/radio center stack, create a seamless, “single unit” appearance. Also, there are almost no exposed metal hardware or latches, as all models feature enclosing “close-outs” around the seat bottoms and door sill trim plates.
Tahoe features a stiff, fully boxed frame, which reduces vibrations transmitted to the passenger cabin. The strength and accuracy of the frame also enable more precise mounting and tuning of chassis and suspension components, which also help reduce vibration. Even the tires on the large, 17-inch standard and 20-inch available wheels were designed to reduce noise.
Tahoe’s quietness and smoothness are complemented by the available Autoride suspension system, which is standard on LTZ. This segment-exclusive bi-state, real-time damping system provides an extremely refined ride with greatly reduced body motion. The system consists of a semi-active, two-position damping control system that responds in real time to road and driving conditions, based on body and wheel motion sensors.
The Tahoe features a 360-degree perimeter safety system of occupant protection and crash avoidance technologies. Standard features include head curtain side air bags with rollover protection for all seating rows and front-seat safety belt pretensioners that are linked to the vehicle’s sensing system to provide segment-exclusive deployment in rear-end crashes.
The roof-mounted head curtain air bags include design features that provide increased rollover protection and occupant containment. These head curtain side air bags stay inflated longer than air bags developed only for side impacts, since rollover incidents can last longer. The deployment duration and other design features of the air bags combine to provide increased occupant protection and the ability to help keep occupants inside the vehicle. Sensors located at the front of the vehicle, in the side doors and within the occupant compartment provide increased and more immediate crash detection.
All considered, the Tahoe defines the full-sized SUV in America. While we await to see what the future brings for its replacement which will surely be more efficient, Americans continue to choose big when they have the choice regardless of price and fuel costs. And if you need to tow, it can pull up to 8,500 lbs.