The Tahoe has been ever so popular since it was introduced in the mid-Nineties with those wanting a full-size SUV – but one that was also more manageable in everyday driving situations than the larger Suburban.
Sitting above the three-row Traverse in the lineup, it hits the sweet spot what with its ability to accommodate seven adults and, when in LTZ guise, offers exceptional levels of comfort and technology. This 2017 model retains that winning formula and along with two new premium metallic exterior colours it throws in front active aero shutters designed to improve aerodynamics, and some extra safety features (it also has a scarcely believable number of USB ports) which all go a long way in making for a brilliant family hauler. This doesn’t just ferry the family around in pure bliss and ample wiggle room – well, in at least two out of the three rows (those at the very back have 600mm of legroom while second row occupants have 930mm – but kids will love it there). it’s also backed by a brawny and rich-sounding 5.3-litre V8 which spells good news for grown-ups when they find themselves alone with this handsome Chevrolet. Nailing the throttle will sure induce a large grin.
The Tahoe, named after the rugged and scenic area surrounding Lake Tahoe in the western US, is deserving of the moniker; the bold exterior of this all-rounder – which you won’t confuse for anything else but a Chevy thanks to a golden bowtie on the grille that’s almost as big as the number plate – combines attractive and rugged features, just like the lake, very nicely. It’s still based on the Silverado but now looks more similar to the pick-up than ever (check out the front end of both) and features sharp-edged styling, sculpted flanks, and LED-accented headlights that blend into the chrome grille. This current generation model was redesigned in 2015 and in spite of the upright and boxy body, it still looks fresh and modern today. It stands tall and has a commanding aura about it; our LTZ tester got lots of additional brightwork on the body, which added to its striking looks, as did the 20in chrome alloys. Some of the features in this top spec include an upgraded suspension, ventilated front seats, power-folding second row seats, navigation and a Bose sound system with ten speakers. It also packs a rather unnecessary piece of tech for our region – a heated steering wheel, which you’ll never use, of course –while, optionally, you can spec a blind spot warning system, which does come in handy. With the immense ride height of the Tahoe, you sometimes struggle to tell if there’s another vehicle on your left or right but with this system alerting you of any objects in close proximity you should, hopefully, avoid any fender benders.
Also new for 2017 are some technology advances that give this SUV an added layer of safety and passenger comfort. The Enhanced Driver Alert package (available on the LS, and standard on the LT and LTZ) now includes Low Speed Forward Automatic braking, and complements the existing suite of collision avoidance features and security functions, such as Lane Keep assist, Forward Collision Alert and Safety Alert Seat, while the aforementioned active aero shutters don’t just assist aerodynamics, they also help cool the powertrain by opening automatically when need be. And speaking of powertrains, the 5.3-litre produces a healthy 355 horsepower and 519Nm of torque – and it sounds fab under full throttle too. With direct injection, cylinder deactivation, continuously variable valve timing and an advanced combustion system, it offers a claimed 10.2 litres per 100km on the highway – that’s almost 10 per cent more efficient than the previous model. The big V8 is mated to a six-speed automatic (with TapShift control, Tow/Haul mode and Auto Grade Braking) and on the move the Tahoe delivers a quiet and controlled ride but you have to push down rather hard on the brakes to bring it to a halt. With an updated coil-over-shock independent front suspension and five-link coil-spring suspension design at the back the ride is good but it rolls, as you’d expect a vehicle of this size, in the corners in spite of the Magnetic Ride Control. It also struggles to hide its truck-based underpinnings when presented with rougher roads with the chassis shuddering a tad.
In spite of that, this is a terrific vehicle that the entire family will no doubt enjoy – and that isn’t just because with 8 USB ports everyone’s mobile phones can be hooked up or charged. No, with a comfortable and loaded cabin, good looks and robust performance to boot, it isn’t a wonder that the Tahoe is one of the favourite full-size SUVs on the market today. If you are shopping for a large SUV and need it to be a jack of all trades, you could do a lot worse than this Chevy.