SUV makes no apologies about being hardy and capable
Base price (incl. destination). $50,800
Honestly, when was the last time you heard the term “sport utility vehicle” bandied about? It likely has been a while, since not many are being made anymore. Still, there are a few hanging on, including the full size Tahoe and its super size Suburban relation.
Hanging on? Actually, these rigs, with their ball team seating capacities, are thriving where others have faded from sight or have been converted to gentler, more fuel frugal car based wagons. North American Tahoe/Suburban sales climbed more than 15 per cent for the 2013 model year and, according to General Motors, represented nearly half of all full size sport utility vehicles sold. Add in healthy sales of the similar GMC Yukon and there’s little left for the few remaining competitors. The 2015 Tahoe, arriving this spring, has undergone a complete transformation. What is clear is the separation between the Tahoe and the considerably bolder looking 2015 Yukon counterpart.
It’s a different story on the inside where max stowage volume has actually decreased slightly, possibly because the third row seats now fold flat for added capacity and are no longer removable. Other
changes include a more fashionable dashboard and control panel, complete with a five or available eight inch touchscreens that control the infotainment and communications systems. A smaller secondary screen is located between the watch style dash gauges that displays key info where the driver can easily view it.
The filing cabinet sized centre console can swallow a laptop computer and other bulky items. There are also storage areas beneath the door armrests plus a secure spot behind the touchscreen for holding cell phones and other small valuables.
The Tahoe’s body is attached to a stronger ladder frame that widens the distance between the wheels slightly for greater stability.
Mounted between the rails is a 5.3 litre V8 that produces 355 horsepower and healthy 383 pound feet of torque.
Although displacement is the same as the previous base V8, the new 5.3 is all aluminum and employs direct injection (fuel force fed into the cylinders under high pressure) and continuously variable valve timing (alters valve lift/duration to improve performance and economy).
The engine can also run raybans on four cylinders under steady state cruising, which al raybans so saves gas. The transmission is a six speed automatic with steering wheel “TapShift” controls and a Tow/Haul mode that holds the gear changes longer when trailering heavy loads (up to 3,640 kilograms). There’s also auto Grade Braking, which downshifts the transmission to help slow the Tahoe when descending a hill. This helps maintain vehicle control while ensuring the brakes don’t overheat.
As per the 2014 version, the 2015 Tahoe is offered in LS, LT and LTZ flavours. Base models come with plenty of standard gear, with the mid and top grade trims piling on content such as keyless push button entry, power folding rear seat and start, magnetic ride control that constantly adjusts the dampers for a smoother ride.
Eighteen inch wheels are standard with 20 and 22 inchers available at extra cost. On the safety front, along with the latest in crash avoiding technologies, there’s an available front seat centre air bag.
It deploys (from the right side of the driver’s seat) to prevent passengers from colliding with each other during a side impact. This key piece of technology addresses a weakness in current shoulder belt design that allows passengers to move raybans sideways. Look for broader use of this in more vehicles. With a $50,800 starting price ($3,300 extra for four wheel drive), including destination charges, the new Tahoe continues a tradition of capability and power. Even in this day and age, it makes no apologies for that, nor should it.
Despite a 45 kilogram drop in weight and improved raybans aerodynamics, the Tahoe rates 14.9 l/100 km in the city and 10.1 on the highway, compared to a slightly better 14.3/9.4 rating for the 2014 model’s 5.3 V8.
The shape is sleeker, there’s less weight and more available safety content on tap. However the powertrain is a bit harder on gas. The trimmer sheet metal and stylish grille create the impression that the Tahoe is a bit smaller than before, but the tape measure proves that not much has really changed.
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