Road Test: 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe LTZ vs. 2006 Ford Expedition King Ranch
The Ford vs. Chevy Feud Continues
The blows just keep coming in the Ford/Chevrolet rivalry. Here, Chevy's 2007 Tahoe LTZ and Ford's 2006 King Ranch Expedition--four-wheel-drive full-size SUVs, fully loaded--hash it out, nose to nose, mano a mano.
Power: The engines are well matched. Chevrolet's 5.3-liter Displacement On Demand V-8 was given healthy power increases for 2007. The Tahoe has 20 more horses, but has 25-pound-feet less torque. The Tahoe beats the Expedition--it has smoother, more responsive power delivery, and better fuel economy, and is almost a second faster to 60 mph. Winner: Tahoe.
Ride and handling: Both body-on-frame SUVs ride well, but neither has carlike canyon-carving handling. And they shouldn't: These trucks are built for work. The Ford's independent rear end would seem to have a natural advantage here. However, Chevrolet has done a fine job revamping the live-axle rear. Also, the Autoride suspension, which adjusts shock tuning to current driving conditions, gives the Tahoe a smooth ride in the straights and tightens it up in turns. Factor in a new, stiffer frame and a coil-spring front suspension replacing torsion bars, and Chevy has managed to make a live-axle truck handle more like one with IRS. While both feel comfortable on well-paved roads, on the rougher stuff, the Ford's showing its age--it feels more jittery over bumps and potholes.
But at the track the Expedition's IRS made its mark. Senior road-test editor Chris Walton observed that the Ford felt more confident and composed in the slalom, even though the Tahoe completed the course 1.4 mph faster (57.2 versus 55.8 mph). This was likely due to the King Ranch's Roll Stability Control, which couldn't be shut off during track testing. Non-RSC-equipped Ford Motor Company SUVs on this platform have been timed at 59.9 mph, considerably faster than the Chevy. Winner: Tahoe.
Function: The Ford is better equipped for hard labor. Four-wheel-drive Expeditions have a maximum towing capacity of 8600 pounds, whereas 4x4 Tahoes can haul up to 7700. And both the Tahoe and Expedition can seat up to nine people. Both top out at a gross vehicle weight rating of 7300 pounds, yet despite the motorized third row and independent rear, the Expedition weighs 40 pounds less unloaded. Winner: Expedition.
Carrying cargo: These three-row SUVs use different methods to accommodate gear. The Tahoe has a removable two-piece third row. The Expedition's cabin uses a power-folding third row (optional) that folds flat in 10 seconds. And even when the Tahoe's third row is stored in the garage, the Expedition still has more overall cargo volume. Winner: Expedition.
Interior design: This may be the first time the Tahoe's cabin can be described as elegant. The leather trim is tasteful, the woodgrain accents are a terrific match, the color scheme is well done, and the gauges and center stack are attractive and easy to read. The King Ranch layout uses medium-brown saddle-style Castano leather--not exactly a home run--and its center stack, namely the stereo and HVAC, could use a makeover. Winner: Tahoe.
Comfort: With captain's chairs in the first two rows of both vehicles, seat comfort there was similar. When equipped with a second-row bench, the Expedition has more hiproom, but the Tahoe has more leg and shoulder space. The decision-maker here is the third row: Ford's allows an adult to sit with relative comfort--the seating position is more natural, and there's a whopping 11 inches more legroom--but in the Tahoe, your knees sit too high. Winner: Expedition.
Ergonomics: As attractive as the Tahoe's interior is, there are some minor issues. For instance, the Tahoe's steering wheel--canted slightly away from the driver on the left side--and driver-information center use buttons with cryptic icons. Even though the Ford's controls haven't changed much since the 1990s, anyone that gets into an Expedition will instantly know what everything does. Winner: Expedition.
Styling: The Tahoe's new look is a good one. GM managed to redesign the SUV without reducing its masculinity and made it distinctive. Its new lines and revamped cabin highlight the Expedition's need for a makeover; new exterior colors and a Texan-themed leather interior aren't enough. Winner: Tahoe.
Build quality: Chalk another one up for the Tahoe. While the Ford's moonroof surround looked warped, there were gaps between trim pieces on the front door panels, and there was visible black adhesive attaching the floor console to the dash, there was little to find fault with in the Chevy. Winner: Tahoe.
Value: Tahoe pricing hasn't been announced, but estimates put the base MSRP in the upper $30,000s. Topline models, like this LTZ, would probably climb to the high $40,000s, with nav, rear-seat DVD entertainment, and satellite radio. This King Ranch Expedition was $51,005 as tested, without satellite radio or navigation. The Tahoe looks to be the better value. Winner: Tahoe.
Conclusion: Chevrolet has made huge improvements to the Tahoe. It's quicker, the interior is quieter and more elegant, the styling is fresh, and it's nicer to drive. There are areas where Ford still dominates--interior packaging, confident feel in corners, and towing capacity--but until that company fires back with a new Expedition, the Tahoe has pulled ahead, and wins this down and dirty matchup.
|2007 Chevrolet Tahoe LTZ||2006 Ford Expedition King Ranch|
|Base/as-tested price||$37,000 / $48,000 (est)||$46,060 / $51,005|
|Drivetrain layout||Front engine, 4WD||Front engine, 4WD|
|Engine||5.3L/320-hp/340 lb-ft OHV V-8||5.4L/300-hp/365 lb-ft SOHC V-8|
|Transmission||4-speed automatic||4-speed automatic|
|Curb weight (dist f/r)||5840 lb (52/48%)||5800 lb (51/49%)|
|Length x Width x Height||202.0 x 79.0 x 77.0 in||205.8 x 78.7 x 76.6 in|
|0-60 mph||8.6 sec||9.4 sec|
|Quarter mile||16.6 sec @ 82.9 mph||16.9 sec @ 81.7 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||133 ft||141 ft|
|600-foot slalom||57.2 mph avg||55.8 mph avg|
|Lateral acceleration||0.72 g avg||0.72 g avg|
|MT Figure eight||29.9 sec @ 0.53 g avg||29.7 sec @ 0.53 g avg|
|EPA city/hwy econ||15 / 21 mpg||14 / 17 mpg|
|1st Place - Chevrolet Tahoe|
Adds improved driving dynamics and good looks to an already competent package.
2nd place - Ford Expedition
Still a capable, hard-working sport/utility--but it's ready for an update.