The Tahoe entered this grouping as the second youngest to the all-new Sequoia; yet, despite its newness, it quickly impressed us as the most aged. Take the transmission. Paired with a 5.3-liter V-8, whose 320 horsepower trailed that of only the Toyota, the Tahoe's four-speed proved its Achilles' heel at the dragstrip, delivering the weakest 0-to-60 time (8.3 seconds) and the slowest quarter-mile trap speed (85.6 mph). Down one cog to the Nissan and two to the Ford and the Toyota, the Chevy struggled on mountain roads as well, its tall ratios making it difficult to find the ideal gear. Notes Motor Trend editor at large St. Antoine, "Where you particularly miss the extra cog is rolling briskly downhill, where second is too low and third is too high." Manual mode? Not offered. Note to Chevy: Install the Cadillac Escalade's Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed or, at the very least, its nifty gear-lever-mounted manual-shift buttons.
The sole possessor of a four-speed, the Tahoe was also the only one to sport an old-school live axle, a feature that behooves off-road maneuvers but tends to degenerate on-road motions. Add in steering that was judged too light and not particularly communicative a "Twirl-O-Matic- feel, according to St. Antoine"and the Chevy's chassis was downgraded further. Per Truck Trend editor Mark Williams, "It's the most fun to take to the backcountry and romp around in, but next to these other family-friendly haulers, it just doesn't keep up."
Further, by eliminating the possibility of a flat floor, the live axle compromises interior efficiency, forcing Chevy to utilize removable third-row seats rather than fold-flat units like the others. Not only is it burdensome to take out those heavy seats, but it's also a burden to sit in them, as they offer the least legroom, 12.3 inches less than that of the Expedition. And if you need to tote gear with a full passenger load, the Tahoe trails again, offering only 16.9 cubic feet behind the third row. And our tester didn't come equipped with the power-operated fold-and-tumble second row, a useful feature included with LTZ Tahoes.
Of course, it's not like the Chevy is without merits. Despite the Z71 off-road suspension package, the Tahoe provided an impressively compliant highway ride as well as a surprisingly hushed cockpit, even at near-triple-digit speeds. Moreover, the interior, while comparatively Spartan and monotone, did offer the comfiest front bucket seats and the most front headroom. Plus, with Active Fuel Management that switches between V-8 and V-4 power, the Tahoe, at 13.4 mpg, tied with the Toyota for best-in-test fuel economy.
If you're looking for a solid off-road toy that's still laudable on-road, or a cavernous five-seat sport/ute that can swallow seven in a pinch, the Tahoe won't disappoint. But if you're looking for more from a three-row full-size SUV, like a higher tow rating than 8200 pounds, there are better options.
Despite its 320-horsepower V-8, the Tahoe, with only a four-speed auto and no manual mode, was slowest to 60 mph