Around town, our 4WD cast-iron 5.3-liter V-8 proved more than adequate for moving through traffic and passing slowpokes. The electronic throttle ramps in power smoothly, while the four-speed transmission is quick to downshift, making energetic test loops along the Angeles Crest Highway exceptionally fun: Reeling in the cars ahead, passing when safe. At the track, our test unit ran 0-to-60 mph in 8.6 seconds (0.2 second faster than the last Tahoe we tested), with a run down the quarter mile in 16.6 seconds at 82.9 mph--slightly slower than the previous, nearly 500-pound-lighter Tahoe.
The new frame--49 percent stiffer due to newly hydroformed front and rear sections--is widened by three inches in the front, an inch in the back. This, along with an all-new front suspension (goodbye, torsion bars; hello, coils) and rack-and-pinion steering, allowed suspension engineers to improve ride and handling characteristics. The steering has a soft spot on center, but then provides more progressive feedback as cornering forces build.
The Tahoe's rear five-link/live-axle suspension also has been retuned with new bushings and shock valving. Standard on LTZ models is a new Autoride shock setup, which can adjust in real time to modify stiffness for a smoother ride on well-paved straight-line highways, as well as provide a firmer setting for lively cornering or when carrying heavy loads. For additional style, GM offers 20-inch polished-aluminum rims, and, to offset added weight, GMT900 SUVs have aluminum lower control arms. All Tahoe models use a four-channel, four-sensor traction-control system that includes a rollover mitigation component, designed to thwart a tip-up situation.
The Tahoe's suspension, steering, and frame improvements translate into better slalom numbers. While the prior Chevy darted through the cones at 56.8 mph, the 2007 model finished at 57.2 mph. During slalom testing, with stability control turned off, the new software algorithms proved much less intrusive than in previous systems--StabiliTrak actually stayed off when it was shut off.
The technological advances are compelling--but the Tahoe's most critical changes are to the interior. Cabin materials are significantly improved, with softer surfaces and tighter gaps and tolerances on all panels, the center stack, and gauges. The gauges have a more upscale look with LED backlighting and chrome details that highlight but don't overpower. The dash panel is now moved forward and down almost six inches, increasing real and perceived room and visibility.