2017 Chevrolet Tahoe

By June 2, 2017

The Chevrolet Tahoe is a full-size SUV whose roots run deeper than any SUV on the planet. We’re talking like 60 years. It can do all the things an SUV should, including seating up to nine people while towing a boat over a muddy road, and has been doing them since before the others even thought of it.

Tahoe was totally redesigned for 2015 to be more refined, with a quieter car-like cabin, and it hasn’t changed in the two years since. For 2017, the top model gets its name changed from LTZ to Premier.

Tahoe is built on the Silverado half-ton pickup track platform, and its close sibling is the GMC Yukon that’s built on the identical platform under the GMC Sierra truck. An uptown relative is the Cadillac Escalade, although the Tahoe Premier rivals the Escalade in fanciness, and when its chassis is stretched it becomes the Suburban.

GM’s 5.3-liter V8 with direct injection makes 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque and comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Using a mechanical and electronic process GM invented, it invisibly cuts out four cylinders when the engine is coasting or lightly cruising, to save fuel, although it still burns through gas. It’s rated to tow 8600 pounds with the right equipment.

The 2018 Tahoe RST Edition will bring the 6.2-liter V8 that’s in other high-performance GM cars, here making 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. It will use a ten-speed automatic transmission, the Magnetic Ride active suspension calibrated for handling, Brembo brakes and a Borla exhaust. Until now, a buyer who wanted the ultimate SUV like this had to spend tens of thousands of dollars with an aftermarket tuner/builder. Although it was Chrysler who built the factory SUV hotrod first, with the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT and its hemi engine. The RST is apparently intended to counter that.

Because the Tahoe weighs nearly 5500 pounds, its fuel mileage is low, at an EPA-estimated 16 City, 23 Highway and 18 miles per gallon Combined with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

The Tahoe doesn’t fare well in NHTSA crash tests. A lowly three stars in the rollover test bring its overall score to four stars, despite five stars in frontal offset and side impact.

Model Lineup

The 2017 Tahoe comes in LS ($47,215), LT ($52,455), and Premier ($62,140) trim levels. Rear-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive adds $3000.

Tahoe LS comes with fabric upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, rearview camera, MyLink radio with eight-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, OnStar telematics with 4G LTE capability, 10-way power driver’s seat, remote start, conversation mirror, 110-volt AC power outlet, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Tahoe LT adds leather, heated front seats, and a tilt/telescoping steering column.

Tahoe Premier approaches the luxury level of a Cadillac Escalade, with perforated leather upholstery, a power tilt/telescoping steering column with heated wheel, heated/cooled seats, navigation, heated second-row captain’s chairs, power-folding third-row seats, and Magnetic Ride Control.

Six airbags are standard, with more available. Options include a lane-departure warning, forward collision alert, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and front parking sensors.

Exterior

The 2015 restyle made the Tahoe look modern, but it’s still upright and boxy, with angular lines and a commanding aura. Although there is no shared sheetmetal with the Silverado, it still looks like that truck from the front. The Premier gets more chrome trim.

Interior

Inside, the lines switch from angular to curved, and the materials don’t say truck at all, although the high seating position does. The seats are supportive and the cabin nearly silent.

Standard eight-passenger seating includes 60/40 split-folding seats in second and third rows. The optional second-row captain’s chairs makes it seven, while a front bench seat makes it nine. The third row is for kids.

The seats can be folded and stowed with the touch of a button, yielding 95 cubic feet of cargo space; or with just the third row down, it’s 51 cubic feet.

An eight-inch LCD touch-screen radio includes the latest MyLink connectivity features. As many as six USB ports can be installed, along with half a dozen power outlets. A bin in the center console can hold a notebook computer or a tablet.

Driving Impressions

The engine is strong, powerful and satisfying, and mates well with the six-speed automatic that shifts smooth and easy, producing almost seamless acceleration.

It doesn’t feel like a truck; that’s been engineered away. Despite a leaf-spring rear suspension, the ride is comfortable, although the height and mass make body lean inevitable. The handling isn’t a strong point, but it is fairly light, neither agile nor ponderous.

The Premier comes with GM’s Magnetic Ride Control, which delivers impressive comfort and greatly improves the cornering. Sensors analyze the road conditions every five seconds, and adjust the stiffness of the dampers accordingly.

The Tahoe’s all-wheel drive system is capable off road.

Final Word

The Chevy Tahoe pretty much does everything right. Great powertrain, roomy, rides well, goes off road, and corners okay, and better than okay with the active magnetic suspension. It can tow a yacht, and can seat nine people, as long as three or four of them are kids.

Sam Moses contributed to this report, with staff reports from The Car Connection.