If a crossover just doesn't meet your needs, then Chevrolet's Tahoe may fill the bill. The full-size SUV shares body-on-frame construction with the Silverado truck and is built for big jobs: towing, hauling, off-roading. For 2015, Chevy redesigned the Tahoe, upgrading the interior, exterior and engine. But all that versatility comes at a steep price.
Appearance: Chevy has improved on the boxy appearance of the previous generation. The Tahoe now carries a bolder and more attractive chrome-trimmed grille — slatted in the top-level LTZ trim like our tester — swept-back bilevel headlights and streamlined sheet metal. Our LTZ had the premium White Diamond Tricoat paint ($995), which adds a classy touch along with the 20-inch alloy wheels.
Performance: The all-new 5.3-liter, 355-horsepower Ecotec3 V-8 is mated to a 6-speed automatic. The engine has active fuel management that shuts down cylinders when cruising to save on fuel. That results in an estimated mpg of 16 city/22 highway, which is surprisingly good for a full-size truck with a V-8 and all-wheel drive. Peter found the initial acceleration sluggish, however. Because of its size, the Tahoe can make parking on city streets or in tight spaces a challenge. If you simply need a family hauler, this isn't your vehicle. But if you have a boat or trailer, it can tow up to 8,400 pounds. (Our tester came with the $500 trailering package.) The Tahoe also gets the magnetic ride-control suspension that GM pioneered in Cadillacs and Corvettes, and that makes for a smoother ride.
Interior: Our LTZ-trimmed Tahoe was loaded with just about every option offered by Chevy, including power-folding seats, second-row captain's chairs, sunroof, rear entertainment system and blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts. The power-folding feature is worth the extra cost — no tugging on straps or pulling on levers. With both rows down, Peter filled the Tahoe full of cardboard boxes in preparation for a move. When he checked the cargo capacity on the Chevy website, he was surprised to learn the space is actually less than that of the smaller Traverse! When all of the Tahoe's seats are up, visibility (and cargo space) is limited. Shorter drivers like Lyra will have to raise out of their seat to look over the headrests. The rest of the interior has a lot to offer in comfort and convenience, such as Chevy's MyLink. The app-oriented infotainment system has an 8-inch touchscreen display that resembles a smartphone with a balance of easy-to-use buttons and dials. The screen lifts up with a push of a button to reveal a gadget-friendly nook. The center armrest bin is huge and can handle hanging folders for those who will use the Tahoe as a mobile office. Peter had one minor complaint with the well-appointed cabin: The plastic trim around the nav screen's bottom was flimsy to the touch — he expects better from a vehicle of this price.
Our 3 favorites
Running boards: Power-retractable. A great help for short or older passengers.
Brakes: I was surprised at how quickly they brought the 5,683-pound vehicle to a halt.
Interior: Attractive colors. Lots of device plug-ins.
Powered seats: Push buttons fold them down easily for more cargo space.
Tranquil: Quiet cabin; music and phone calls are easy to hear.
Parking help: Rearview camera and parking assists are a must.
The bottom line: The bestselling full-size SUV for those who need to tow or haul has upped its game, but also its price. Our Chevy Tahoe LTZ tester's sticker of $71,000? Wow.