AUTO REVIEW: 2015 Chevy Tahoe More Refined, But Still Only for Those Who Think Big

(The Miami Herald/MCT) -
The 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe's front shows the all-new refined and precisely sculpted design. (Chevrolet/MCT)
The 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe’s front shows the all-new refined and precisely sculpted design. (Chevrolet/MCT)

Admittedly, the wife was not enamored by the beefy, tough, redesigned 2015 Chevy Tahoe. She complained every time she had to step up and into the cabin. She never likes to “hoist” herself up into a vehicle.

So there’s your fair warning: If a big, full-size SUV — one you could pull a house with — isn’t what you seek, you’re reading the wrong column. But if you want a full-size SUV that can haul that 30-foot boat — or a small house — and you want the kind of interior refinement and technology usually found in luxury cars, then read on.

Already a dominating presence in the full-size SUV market, the Tahoe comes back this year with thunder. The engines have more horses — and advanced technology that squeezes out more miles per gallon. And it rides on an all-new platform derived from the Chevy Silverado pickup.

All Tahoes are equipped with a 5.3-liter V-8 that generates 356 horses and 383 pound-feet of torque. A smooth-shifting six-speed transmission sends power to the rear wheels or all four with the 4WD version getting a two-speed transfer case with low-range gearing.

Maximum tow rating for the 2WD is 8,600 pounds; 8,400 for the 4WD. All Tahoes are prewired for towing and get a 2-inch receiver hitch. Optional is a MAX Trailering package that gets its own gearing and trailer brake controller.

While the Tahoe is a brute when called upon, on the highway it is well-behaved. The ride is smooth and nearly as quiet as a luxury sedan. And Tahoe’s electric-assisted power steering is surprisingly responsive.

Bumps are managed nicely, thanks to its Magnetic Ride Control, adaptive suspension system that adjusts the stiffness of the shocks within milliseconds. And corners are handled without excitement or concern.

Acceleration, though, is somewhat sluggish. That is, the accelerator seems to hesitate a brief moment before powering up.

Mileage is EPA-rated at 16 mpg city, 23 highway for the 2WD; 15/22 for the 4WD. While EPA figures often are generous, my figures were close with an empty truck.

It won’t always be empty, of course, and when the time comes to load up, you’ll have no trouble finding the space.

New this year is a raised floor behind the third-row seats to enable a flat cargo area when the third row is folded down. Yes, I said folded down: Third-row seats no longer have to be removed.

Also, raising the floor didn’t subtract from cargo space — folded seats are now in a convenient and secure storage area beneath the floor.

With the third row folded, there is 51.5 cubic feet of space; fold down the second-row seats and it expands to 94 cubic feet. In most cases, that should be more than enough. But know that this is a bit less than the previous Tahoe, and you can even find more cubes in the Chevy Traverse crossover. Weird but true.

Overall, the interior is significantly improved over the previous generation. Refined, luxurious even.

The materials have a rich feel. Instruments are easy to see and read, and an optional 8-inch infotainment display offers clear graphics that can be changed to suit your tastes.

Seats up front are comfortable and reasonably supportive. Leg room, head and shoulder space is plentiful. Eight-way power with lumbar ensures a comfortable ride. Second row is good, too, and passengers there get overhead AC vents and their own controls.

Third-row seats are tight — i.e., no leg room or foot room — for average adults, and should be reserved mostly for the kids. But frankly, even with little ones back there you’ll find a loss of rear visibility.

Chevy has made great strides in technology offerings, too. Even the base Tahoe LS has rear parking sensors, remote engine start, rear-view camera, 6-speaker sound system with satellite radio, and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity.

Step up to the LT and get 9-speaker Bose sound, power liftgate standard Driver Alert package and rear locking differential. Second-row captain’s chairs are optional. A Luxury option package ($2,705) adds sunroof, navigation and rear-entertainment system to accommodate both back rows. A luxury package adds front parking sensors, power-folding third row and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts.

Those things are standard on the top-line LTZ, which also adds 20-inch wheels and Magnetic Ride Control suspension.

An optional security feature is an alert if someone tries to steal the wheels, plus an interior motion sensor. Decent deal for $395.

Other safety features include the usual ABS, front side air bags and full-length side curtain air bags, traction and stability control. The stability includes trailer-sway control to help keep the boat behind you on the road.

There is a lot of SUV with this big boy; looks bigger even than its Yukon cousin. If you’re the type that thinks good things — and vehicles — come in big packages, the 2015 Chevy Tahoe is ready to serve.

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2015 Chevrolet Tahoe (base LS): $46,000

As tested: $71,375 (4WD LTZ trim with — among smaller options — Sun, Entertainment, Destination package at $3,255, adaptive cruise control at $1,695, retractable running boards at $1,745, and Max Trailering package at $500).

Front grille view of the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe in Crystal Claret. (Chevrolet/MCT)
Front grille view of the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe in Crystal Claret. (Chevrolet/MCT)
The police equipment comes with the Tahoe 9C1 police package's standard equipment, including a 5.3L V-8 engine rated at 355 horsepower, a six-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch steel wheels, police-specific suspension and auxiliary battery for emergency equipment. (MCT)
The police equipment comes with the Tahoe 9C1 police package’s standard equipment, including a 5.3L V-8 engine rated at 355 horsepower, a six-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch steel wheels, police-specific suspension and auxiliary battery for emergency equipment. (MCT)
The 2015 Tahoe PPV offers ample cargo space with an interior volume of 120.7 cu. ft. (Chevrolet/MCT)
The 2015 Tahoe PPV offers ample cargo space with an interior volume of 120.7 cu. ft. (Chevrolet/MCT)
The 2015 Chevy Tahoe has the kind of interior refinement and technology usually found in luxury cars. (Chevrolet/MCT)
The 2015 Chevy Tahoe has the kind of interior refinement and technology usually found in luxury cars. (Chevrolet/MCT)