2007 Chevrolet Tahoe Expert Review:Autoblog
To grasp the importance of General Motors' new GMT900 full-size pickup and SUV platform, one only has to consider that its predecessor is responsible for over 10-percent of total annual new-vehicle sales in the US. The General's full-size SUVs move off the lot at a rate of approximately 650,000 per year, meaning that a new Tahoe, Suburban, Yukon, or Escalade finds its way into a garage approximately every 48 seconds. Love 'em or loath 'em, these vehicles are GM's lifeblood.
With today's statistics lesson out of the way, we submit Autoblog's review of the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe LT. As nearly seven years have passed since the last redesign, GM's engineers certainly have their work cut out for them -- virtually every aspect of the previous iteration needs improvement if the company expects to maintain the full-size SUV sales crown. Have they succeeded? While the verdict will ultimately be rendered in showrooms, that isn't stopping us from weighing-in with our opinion.
The Tahoe name came to Chevy dealerships in 1995, when the classic Blazer moniker was reassigned to full-time duty on the brand's mini-SUVs. This was also the first year for a four-door model; prior to this, the only way to get four doors on a full-size GM SUV was to spring for the gigantic Suburban. By trimming over a foot from the 'Burb's wheelbase, Tahoe suddenly found itself the new darling of subdivision dwellers across the country.
With fuel economy at the forefront of many buyers' minds, GM's designers set out to create a fresh look for the new Tahoe that would also slice through the wind with less effort. To the extent that a vehicle boasting 37.3 square feet of frontal area can be called "sleek", the work has paid off. The Tahoe has a drag coefficient of 0.363 - approaching that of many sedans, and the sheetmetal carries with it a much more sophisticated look than we're used to seeing on a truck carrying a Bowtie up front. Gone is the plain-jane appearance of previous Tahoes, and the silly scowl of the Silverado. In its place lies a vehicle that comes off as decidedly modern and classy.
A pair of tow hooks have been recessed into the bumper cover, but forget any notions of serious off-roading. The fascia and air dam contribute to almost car-like approach angles, meaning that anything taller than that speed bump in the neighborhood Starbucks is likely to result in a trip to the local body shop. For a vehicle segment that depends so much on the illusion of ruggedness, this seems like an unforgivable sin, but it's probably a move in the right direction considering the ever-so-few number of SUV owners that leave the pavement with their $40,000 steeds. The upcoming Z71 off-road package will supposedly address this issue when introduced later this year; in the mean time, we'll ponder other uses for the transfer case's low range.
The front fenders flare gracefully over the widened track and fit tightly to the adjoining panels. Without a doubt, the quality of the bodywork is worlds' beyond what we've previously seen from the General. The front door openings seem larger than those of the previous model, and a set of cleanly integrated (but not retractable) running boards makes entering the cabin very un-truck-like.
Large side mirrors provide good rearward visibility and contain integrated turn signals, automatic dimming, and a power-fold feature (the latter useful for guiding this supertanker-width vehicle through narrow garage openings). Up top sits the ubiquitous roof rack, which we almost never observe in use. At least it's barely noticeable and doesn't noticeably contribute to wind noise.
Of significantly greater usefulness is the integrated 2" receiver hitch, rated for Class IV duty and capable of yanking 7,700 lbs of your favorite cargo. A small spoiler sits atop the power-lift rear hatch; below the cargo opening is a step bumper. There's ultrasonic parking assist, but we'd much prefer the optional rear-view camera system, as such setups allow drivers to hook up trailers with ease.
A set of 265/70-17 all-season tires on 17" alloy wheels graced our tester. We've seen a similar design on too many other GM products, and would prefer a fresher design. We'd also like to see the wheel wells filled out a bit better. Fortunately, 20" wheels are available from the factory, and the aftermarket is already overflowing with options for the 6-lug pattern.
Our middle-of-the-road sample was delivered with a $43,970 sticker price. That's right in line with what we'd expect to pay for the competition, but it's still a large chunk of change. Stay away from the option checkboxes and it's possible to squeeze in a 4WD Tahoe LT under $38,000-- go with a 2WD drivetrain and LS trim to knock the price down to a touch under $34K. High-rollers going the other direction can option a top-of-the-line LTZ well into the $50,000 range, obtaining features such as Autoride suspension, a rear-seat entertainment system, rain-sensing wipers and heated washer fluid.
Join us for the next installments of this Autoblog Garage feature, where we'll poke around the new interior to see if GM has improved on what is arguably the previous Tahoe's biggest weakness: the interior. Later, we'll hit the streets to investigate claims of improved fuel economy and better road manners. Stay tuned.
Without a doubt, the area most in need of improvement with General Motors' full-size trucks has been with their interiors. We'll avoid running down a list of faults, as it's likely that nearly every one of our readers has been exposed to a GMT800 at one point or another. Let's just say that not only was it not in the competition's ballpark, it was readily apparent that it wasn't even playing the same game. As such, GM needed to hit a home run with the GMT900's touch, appearance, lighting, and coloration, all while offering a level of functionality and versatility to justify the Tahoe's bulk. Let's step inside our '07 Chevy Tahoe LT to see if the General has succeeded.
[Click through for plenty of pictures, observations, and commentary...]
The first thing that noticed by the truck owners on Autoblog's staff is just how easy it is to climb into this SUV. With running boards just above ankle height and satin-finish metal sill plates only a half step above that, ingress and egress was incredibly easy, even for your height-challenged author and his even shorter wife. Macho types that enjoy the act of ascending a half-story into their trucks need not apply.
Once settled into the driver's seat, the all-new interior has a profound impact on those who have calibrated their expectation meter to GM's prior truck offerings. The leather seat cover actually resembles something of an organic nature, the materials that aren't supposed to be glossy have an even matte sheen, and the stuff that's supposed to shine does so proudly. The seats have a vertically adjustable lumbar support that's certain to help drivers of all shapes and sizes. Once again, we felt that the lower cushion was just a bit too long for shorter drivers, but those of larger stature are likely to find comfort easily. We'd also like to feel significantly more lateral support, but we know better than to ask such a thing of truck seats. The additional width of the GMT900 platform is immediately noticeable, but when there is only a pair of bucket seats, the five feet and four inches of room between the door panels seems just a bit superfluous. We suspect that this additional room may not be truly appreciated until we experience a bench-seat regular-cab truck on this platform.
We especially appreciated the classy two-tone tan and gray ("Dark Titanium" in General's tongue) of our tester, as they combined to prevent the dark and dour mood that larger interiors tend to take on when done in a single hue. The prospect of maintaining the appearance of such light colors over the life of the vehicle is a bit daunting, though - especially when the kid-hauling usage profile of such a vehicle is considered, but there are always darker shades in the catalog to consider. Adding to the overall look is a rather realistic simulated wood trim, liberal use of bright chrome, and a few bits of brushed metal here and there to satisfy our industrial fashion sense.
To go along with the windshield's sharper rake, the dashboard has been pushed away from the driver and is quite a bit lower than previous GM trucks. Combined with the trademark low beltline and tall seating position, the Tahoe makes good on the much-coveted "commanding view of the road" vantage point.
The Tahoe's gauge cluster combines six analog dials and a multifunction display to communicate a vast array of information about the vehicle's operation. Especially entertaining is the instantaneous fuel economy display, which incorporates a tell-tale to show whether the Displacement on Demand system was operating in V4 or V8 mode. The blue backlighting looks lovely, but probably isn't the best color for nighttime driving. Further complicating matters was a dimmer control that refused to reduce the illumination levels to our preferred barely perceptible levels.
Cruise-control functions are completely removed from the wiper stalk and placed on the left spokes of the steering wheel, but it takes a simian's thumb to use the buttons without shifting hand positions on the leather-wrapped rim. On the right are useful controls for the radio and hands-free OnStar system. The size and shape of the column-mounted shift lever remind of an axe handle-- even Paul Bunyan types should not fear breaking off this stalk.
Shifting our gaze to the center stack reveals a Bose audio system and two-thirds of the vehicle's climate controls (our tester's LT3 spec gives second-row passengers their own set of HVAC dials). Everything here has the look and feel of quality, but in the process of eliminating the sometimes cartoonishly large buttons of yore, it's now extremely difficult to operate the system's tiny pushbuttons while wearing gloves. The track information displayed when using XM satellite radio also had us wishing for a multi-line display on the head unit.
Below the center stack lays a console that seems larger than most subcompact cars. The open bin provides substantial volume in which to place cell phones, PDAs, and MP3 players, but the interior of the console is less roomy than its exterior would suggest.
A few pokes around reveal that not all is what it seems, however. A knuckle-rap on the well-textured dashboard results in a sharp knock that betrays its appearance, but the hard plastic at least looks pleasant enough. The softer material used for the door panels has just a bit of that distinctively cheap PVC feel, and we were able to elicit a few squeaks and squawks by pressing hard enough on certain trim pieces. None of those same pieces made so much of a single noise during actual driving, though.
Moving back to the three-position second row seating (a pair of buckets can be ordered in place of the bench), we find adequate but not breathtaking amounts of room. With the front seats moved to the most rearward position, taller adults may actually find themselves wishing for a bit more legroom. While a peek at the spec sheet shows that the GMT900-based Tahoe is actually a few tenths of an inch narrower through the hips than its predecesor in this area, it seemed if anything to feel more roomy and open.
Our tester lacked the optional rear-seat DVD entertainment system, but we'd like to see one as a standard feature given our people-mover's $43k pricetag.
The first of our significant gripes comes as we move to the optional 2-position third row of seating (it's also possible to order up three chairs out back). Quite simply, the short wheelbase (relative to the Suburban, anyway) combines with the Tahoe's particularly cumbersome second row folding technique makes third row access a spontanious athletic event. Operating the large handle for the latch resulted in some PG-13 rated language on a few occasions, and the seat itself is rather heavy. When imagining a mother trying to help her children into the rearmost seats while juggling a couple handfuls of miscellanea, suddenly the power-folding option seems justifiable.
Rear seats can be folded or removed completely, but when installed they dramatically reduce the amount of available cargo space. It takes only a tug of the seats' handles to unlatch them from the Tahoe's cargo floor, but we're guessing that they each weigh in the neighborhood of 50 pounds, and thus strike like a chiropractor visit waiting to happen. By the time we'd removed both and folded the second row of seats to accommodate a trip to the local Home Depot, we felt as if we'd just gone a few rounds on the Total Gym that Chuck Norris hawks on late-night infomercials.
Overall, we're quite pleased with the quality of the interior, and drivers in particular will have little reason to complain about the Tahoe's accoutrements. Unfortunately, the difficulty of accessing the third row and the lack of storage behind said seating takes a sizable bite out of this vehicle's utility-- troubling considering that this is supposedly half of the vehicle's functionality. We know that the Suburban's extra wheelbase is a large burden when looking for a parking spot at the mall, but if there's a need to regularly carry more than five adults, then we have no other choice than to recommend Supersizing one' s order at the Chevrolet dealership.
Stay tuned for the final installment of our Autoblog Garage review of the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe, when we hit the road (and even leave it) to see how the GMT900 chassis handles a dynamic driving environment. We'll also report back with our fuel economy calculations our week with the Tahoe, and issue a final verdict.
It's now time to bring our review of the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe LT to a close. We've looked over the fresh sheetmetal and crawled around the all-new interior, but before rendering a verdict we have to get behind the wheel and see if the redesigned SUV has the driving dynamics to back up its looks.
[Click through for pics, commentary, and our final thoughts on the new Tahoe...]
Under the Tahoe's hood, we find the GenIV version of the company's long-running line of small-block V8 engines. The 325 HP 5.3L engine features Displacement On Demand (DOD), which shuts down half of the cylinders under light-load conditions. This reduces the pumping losses, thus improving fuel economy. We observed 15 MPG while driving in "mixed" conditions (what we considered to be a fairly even mix of urban, two-lane highway, and expressway travel), and pulled down just over 17.5 MPG while cruising at 75 MPH on the expressway. Those are great figures for a full-size SUV, but we didn't exactly feel like we were saving the planet, either. The Tahoe is capable of running on E85 (despite our tester's lack of a yellow gas cap), but as ever, the trick remains finding a gas station that carries it.
The 5.3L delivers sufficient power, although there's no doubt that it's tasked with moving around a substantial amount of mass. The engine makes some interesting noises as it goes about its business, with an almost musclecar-like exhaust note replacing the wheezing sounds we expect to hear from this type of vehicle. In fact, some may even find the V8 rumble to be a bit too much for their liking (not us, but hey...).
Backing up this fine engine is GM's 4L60E four-speed automatic. While we expect most of our readers to focus on the number of available gear ratios (or lack thereof), that really wasn't the main source of our complaints. Rather, it was the transmission's complete and total lack of willingness to downshift that frustrated. We've experienced this gearbox in several dozen other applications and haven't had this problem to the same extent, so we chalk it up to matter of electronic calibration problem rather than a fundamental flaw of the hardware. Regardless of the cause, expect to file paperwork (in triplicate, signed, and notarized) if you want to trigger a 4th to 2nd downshift. Putting the trans into the Tow/Haul mode helped slightly, but then the upshifts were delayed far longer than prudent (probably the result of being optimized for, uh, towing and hauling). On the positive side of things, the shift feel was generally quite good. If we owned one of these, it'd be receiving an immediate reflash of the transmission shift points.
Rounding out the drivetrain is GM's Autotrac transfer case, which offers the driver a choice of 2WD, full-time 4WD (achieved via the use of a progressively-locking clutch pack, not a center differential), and part-time 4WD Hi and Low modes. We think that it's an ideal arrangement for such a vehicle, although having an available low range seemed a bit odd for a vehicle that will drag its air dam on parking-lot curbs.
A solid axle is hung from a set of four trailing arms out back, while the front of the truck receives an updated version of GM's SLA independent suspension. Gone are the torsion bars; in their place lie a set of coil springs. Aluminum lower control arms replace the previous generation's ferrous bits, and front-mounted rack-and-pinion steering equipment is used in lieu of the recirculating-ball gearbox that has been a GM hallmark for several decades.
Over most road conditions - even the Midwest's famed cratered spring pavement - the GMT900's improved rigidity almost makes it possible to ignore that one is driving a body-on-frame vehicle-- believe it or not, the solid rear axle behaves itself in virtually all situations. It's possible to upset the Tahoe's composure with the right sequence of backroad bumps and ruts, but for the most part, the overall structural integrity is a huge improvement over previous generations. We were also pleased with the spring and damper rates, which do an admirable job of keeping the big truck under control even when thrown around like a car. Get too crazy, and the Stabilitrak stability control system will step in with authority to issue a reminder that this isn't a sport car, and should not be treated as such. We elected not to push things further to see if the system indeed works as claimed, keeping the shiny side up.
Quite simply, the Tahoe steers with precision not expected of a 5800-pound SUV with a waist-high center of gravity. We'd prefer less power assist - the efforts seemed tuned towards those who like to hold a cell phone in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other, but at least every bit of wheel movement translates into a meaningful response from the vehicle.
The same magic has been carried over to the brakes, which may possess the best pedal feel we've ever experienced on a mass-market body-on-frame SUV. The takeup is immediate, with virtually no lash, and the amount of boost provided dead-nuts perfect. It does take a fair bit of shove on the pedal to bring the Tahoe to a rapid stop, but that's to be expected with nearly 3 tons of mass (we prefer this situation than to have pads that are excessively grabby). As usual, GM's ABS system works well, although the lack of traction provided by the OEM tires ultimately limits the effectiveness of the braking hardware.
So, you ask... what's the verdict? While GM has done an admirable job of improving every aspect of the Tahoe's performance, the operational envelope of full-size SUVs was long ago described by Sir Issac Newton. The main competition for the Tahoe and its stablemates isn't so much the Ford Expedition or Toyota Sequoia, but rather the laws of physics. Viewed in the context of its full-size SUV competition, there is little question that GM has hit a home run, and we think it will deservedly continue to command the lion's share of its segment.
New Car Test Drive
All-new, more responsive and more responsible.
Whether families with children, empty-nest couples with active lifestyles or individuals who simply have cargo to carry securely or trailers to tow, some people really do need the all-weather practicality provided by a full-size sport utility vehicle. Since 2001, the Chevy Tahoe has been the best-selling vehicle in the category, accounting annually for more than 25 percent of all full-size SUV registrations in the United States.
For the 2007 model year, Chevrolet rolls out its all-new and next-generation Tahoe, a vehicle that promises to be updated and improved in seemingly every aspect, including fuel economy. Chevrolet boasts that its 2007 Tahoe is the first full-size SUV to break the 20-mpg barrier in the federal government's combined fuel economy ratings, a feat the Tahoe achieves with both its two- and four-wheel-drive models.
Tahoe can accommodate five to nine passengers, the latter when ordered with the available front bench and third-row seating. All three rows offer spacious seating. Even adults can sit in the third row, but most we wouldn't want to spend a lot of time back there.
Out on the road, the new Tahoe feels taut for a full-size SUV, and the steering is precise and responsive. The brakes are responsive and smooth. At highway speeds the Tahoe is quiet and comfortable. The available 5.3-liter V8 engine features GM's Displacement on Demand technology to save gas, but we weren't ever able to feel it switching between four and eight cylinders whether on the highway or around town.
With the second row in its flipped and folded position, the Tahoe provides 108.9 cubic feet of cargo capacity. With power provided by one of two V8 engines, the Tahoe can tow as much as 7700 pounds.
Chevrolet promises that the new Tahoe models will carry more standard equipment, with several new options, yet will be priced at or below comparable 2006 models, which range from less than $37,000 to around $50,000, depending on the model and its specific content.
The all-new 2007 Chevy Tahoe is available in three versions, LS, LT and LTZ.
The standard engine is a 290-hp 4.8-liter V8. Tahoe 4WD models come standard with a 320-hp 5.3-liter V8 that features GM's Displacement on Demand technology that quiets four cylinders in many normal driving situations. A version of this engine also can run on either E85 ethanol-blended fuel as well as on regular unleaded gasoline.
The LS ($33,115) is the base model and should account for about 15 percent of sales. Standard equipment includes dual-zone air conditioning, cloth seating for five people, with power adjustment for the driver's seat, 17-inch wheels, a tire-pressure monitoring system, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock technology, StabiliTrak stability control designed to keep the vehicle on the driver's intended course and to reduce the possibility of a rollover when the vehicle leaves that course. Also included as standard equipment are a steering column that tilts, intermittent windshield wipers, power locks and mirrors as well as windows, side assist steps, an eight-speaker audio system with CD player and a year of OnStar service.
The LT ($34,865) is expected to be the most popular version, accounting for 65 percent to 70 percent of sales. To simplify ordering, the LT offers three variations for the 2007 model year. The LT-1 package adds a cargo shade, floor console, color-keyed door handles, heated exterior mirrors, fog lamps, custom bucket front seats, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls and a sound system with rear audio controls with headphone jacks. The LT-2 adds dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable pedals, a remote starter system, leather seats, an audio system with a six-CD changer and MP3 capability, Ultrasonic rear parking assist and a universal garage door opener. The LT-3 adds power folding rearview mirrors with turn signals, side-curtain airbags, 12-way power driver's seat with memory, power-adjustable front passenger seat, Bose Premium 9-speak audio with subwoofer and XM Satellite Radio. Based on choices made by current Tahoe owners when they bought their vehicles, Chevrolet expects the LT-3 to be the most popular version.
The LTZ ($43,140) comes with 20-inch wheels, Autoride air-assisted rear suspension, heated windshield washer system, heated second-row seats with a power release to enhance access to the cargo area or standard third-row seat, a locking rear differential, power rear liftgate and rain-sensing front wipers.
Optional equipment for the Tahoe includes an auxiliary transmission cooler, engine block heater, navigation system, rear-seat video entertainment system, rear-view camera system, sunroof and a third-row that seats two people in buckets or three people on a bench. Accessories include specially styled wheels, brush guards for the grille and tail lamps, roof rack cross rails, a cargo tray, deep-ribbed rubber floor mats and hitch-mounted bike and ski carriers.
The 2007 Chevy Tahoe features an all-new body with more rounded lines, fully wrapped front lower body fascia that eliminates air-grabbing gaps, doors that wrap over the rocker panels, a more steeply raked windshield (tilted back from 50 degrees on the previous model to 57 degrees on the new Tahoe) and a radio antenna that has moved from an exterior position into the rear quarter-window glass. Such detail was paid to making the new Tahoe more smooth and aerodynamic that even the little lip on the gas fuel filler door has been eliminated.
The result of the more streamlined body is better fuel economy, according to GM. Automotive engineers judge wind-cheating aerodynamics by a factor known as the coefficient of drag. The lower the number, the slicker the vehicle. The 2007 Tahoe has a Cd of 0.363. For comparison, the smaller but extremely sporty Porsche Cayenne emerges from the wind tunnel at 0.38.
In the case of the 2007 Tahoe, a smoother appearance doesn't mean a softer appearance. The new Tahoe is built on a new and wider frame. As a result, the front track (the area spanned by the front wheels) has increased by more than three inches and the rear track has grown by an inch, resulting in a wider, stronger-looking stance. A pair of bulges in the hood enhances the vehicle's visual strength.
Further boosting the Tahoe's stance are standard 17-inch wheels. The 2005 Tahoe rode on 16-inch wheels. But not only are 17s standard on the new Tahoe LS and LT, but 20-inch wheels are standard on the LTZ and optional on the LT.
The 2007 Chevy Tahoe offers 4.3 more cubic feet of interior cargo capacity than the previous model, and that interior space has been enhanced by sculpting out the interior door panels, the backs of the front seats and by redesigning the headliner. Even the optional, ceiling-mounted rear-seat DVD entertainment system has been redesigned to take up less space. The new dashboard and instrument panel have been lowered and moved forward under the base of the more steeply raked windshield.
The result is a spaciousness that can be enjoyed from any of the three rows of seats.
Those seats have a more finished look with enclosed bases rather than exposed hardware. The second-row seats can be equipped with a power fold-and-tumble feature to provide easier access to the third-row seating area or for loading or unloading cargo. Third-row seats can be removed quickly to take full advantage of the new Tahoe's cargo carrying capabilities.
Power-adjustable pedals help fit the Tahoe to drivers of varying stature. So does an extra inch of fore/aft travel for the driver's seat. But even with more front-seat travel, a tall person has room in the second row because of the sculpted front-seat backs. We sat in the third-row seats and found that adults fit, though they might not want to ride back there for much longer than a short drive from the office to lunch. The Tahoe we tested was equipped with the two-person third-row seat setup that comprises two separate seats, each with own cup holder and storage area.
Whether the third row seats two or three people, there are 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space between the third-row seat back and the closed rear liftgate.
Even in its standard form, the Tahoe's interior is comfortable and roomy, and that room can accommodate all sorts of optional equipment and accessories, from rear-seat DVD to Bose audio to side curtain airbags, a navigation system and a sunroof.
The 2007 Chevy Tahoe's more aerodynamic body not only cuts through the wind, but it reduces wind noise. With new acoustic dampening measures and better aerodynamics, the new Tahoe is 20 percent quieter inside, according to Chevrolet engineering tests. Our measure of quiet is that occupants can hear each other while speaking in normal conversational tones while cruising down the highway.
Chevrolet engineers like to say that their new Tahoe lives larger inside but drives smaller outside. By that they mean that while the vehicle feels big inside, but has a taut feeling on the road so the driver doesn't necessarily feel like he or she is at the wheel of a full-size SUV.
That taut feeling starts with the new ladder-style frame that is nearly 50 percent stiffer overall and 90 percent stiffer in its forward section. As one GM engineer put it, although the new front end is only two inches longer, it provides the equivalent of 17 more inches of crush capacity in the event of a collision. Standard StabiliTrak should enhance the driver's ability to avoid many accidents, but should they happen, side curtain airbags are available. The new Tahoes are equipped with front seatbelt pretensioners that activate to hold the driver and front-seat passenger in proper position not only in a frontal crash, but also in a severe rear impact. GM says the Tahoe is the first vehicle to use this new rear-impact safety system.
The 2007 Chevy Tahoe rides on a new coil-over front suspension geometry and has a revised five-link rear suspension. The Tahoe is available with its standard (ZW7) Smooth Ride suspension, with its Autoride (Z55) air suspension providing real-time dampening on the LTZ. A special off-road (Z71) suspension package will also be available.
All new Tahoes have four-wheel disc brakes with 55 more square inches of swept area and 50 percent stiffer calipers. It used to be that when you stepped on the brakes of a Tahoe you got a swoosh sound but didn't feel the brakes grabbing until the pedal had traveled well down toward the floorboard. Now, on the new Tahoe, the brakes not only are silent, but you feel them as they begin to slow the vehicle immediately.
This is just one aspect of the Tahoe's improved responsiveness that instills a new sense of confidence in the driver. A new rack-and-pinion steering system, with its rack mounted on an engine cross member, provides more immediate and precise response when you turn the steering wheel.
The Tahoe we tested was an LT-3 with the larger V8 engine and four-wheel drive. We would have preferred more than four gears in the transmission, especially when climbing some long mountain grades northwest of Phoenix, but we liked the fact that we couldn't feel the transitions when the Displacement on Demand shut off or turned back on four cylinders as needed during highway cruising. The system even works in normal city driving, though the only way we could tell was to see the indicator lights change on the driver information panel on the dashboard.
We drove on regular gasoline, but a flexible-fuel version of the Vortec 5300 is available that operates on either gasoline or on E85 ethanol fuel while providing the same horsepower, torque and fuel economy figures. Both versions of the Vortec 5300 meet GM's new 200,000-mile durability requirements (compared to 150,000 for earlier engines).
Our test truck was equipped with the standard 17-inch wheels and tires. The ride was comfortable but not at all soft or spongy. The 20-inch wheels might look nice, but they come with tires with nearly three inches less sidewall area and thus provide much less cushion for absorbing bumps along the way.
The 2007 Chevy Tahoe is all-new, a full-size SUV that gets more than 20 miles per gallon. Chevrolet introduced the Tahoe nameplate in the mid-1990s as the full-size version of what had been the Blazer, a two-door sport utility vehicle. Tahoe's popularity soared in 2000 when it became a purpose-built, full-size four-door and family-oriented SUV known within GM as the GMT 800. Now, for 2007, comes the next generation, so new and improved that even its internal designation has changed to GMT 900. The 2007 Chevy Tahoe has better steering and braking response, Displacement on Demand engine technology and enhanced safety features that make it an attractive choice among full-size SUVs.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Larry Edsall filed this report from Phoenix, Arizona.
Chevy Tahoe LS ($33,115), LT ($34,865), LTZ ($43,140).
Options As Tested
navigation system with rear-seat entertainment, power liftgate, rain-sensing front wipers, power fold-and-tumble second-row seats, two-passenger third-row seating, sunroof.
Chevy Tahoe LT 4x4.
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