2015 Chevrolet Tahoe Review

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe - Impressive large SUV that sets the class standard and then some.


Vehicle Tested
2015 Chevrolet Tahoe LT 2WD
Base Price: $50,045
As-Tested Price: $55,875
Built in Arlington, Texas.

Luxury Package
20-Inch Polished Aluminum Wheels
Crystal Red Metallic Paint

Engine: 5.3-liter V8, 355

Transmission: 6-Speed
Drive Wheels: Rear-Wheel

Chevrolet has completely redesigned the Tahoe and larger sibling Suburban for 2015. New inside and out, the 2015 Tahoe was designed to be quieter, more comfortable, more fuel efficient and better connected. Highlights of the 2015 redesign include a new 5.3-liter V8, additional safety features, available wireless cell-phone charging, hands-free liftgate and 4G LTE connectivity.

Tahoe is a full-size sport-utility vehicle that is available only as a four-door wagon. Chevrolet produces a larger version called the Suburban. GMC sells the similar Yukon and Cadillac the Escalade. Direct competitors are few and include the Dodge Durango, Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia. 

The wheelbase of the 2015 Tahoe is unchanged from 2014 and exterior dimensions grow only slightly. However, the frame is all new and now fully boxed for additional strength. Also the rake of the windshield has been increased to improve aerodynamics. Most models seat eight, but maximum capacity is nine passengers.

Interior enhancements for 2015 include fold-flat second- and third-row seats, available eight-inch color touch screen radio with next-generation MyLink connectivity, six USB ports and six power outlets - including a 110-volt three-prong outlet - available rear-seat entertainment system with dual screens and Blu-ray DVD player, conversation mirror in the overhead console that provides a panoramic view of the rear seats, keyless entry and push-button start.

The 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe is available in three trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ. Seating for eight is standard, but there are two optional seating arrangements. Second-row captain's chairs drop the count to seven, and an available 40/20/40 front bench seat increases it to nine - however that's only offered on the LS.

Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. An airbag located between the front bucket seats is also standard and aids in side-impact crashes. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation. Rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are standard on every Tahoe. Also available are front parking sensors, forward collision alert, lane-departure warning, a vibrating safety-alert seat, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring.

The Tahoe LS comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, heated power-adjustable manual-folding mirrors, automatic wipers, tilt-only steering wheel, tri-zone automatic climate control, power front seats, 60/40 split-fold second-row bench seat and 50/50-split fold-flat third-row seat. Also standard are remote engine start, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, 4.2-inch color display, rearview camera, OnStar and six-speaker sound system with HD and satellite radio, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, two USB ports and an SD card slot.

The LT model includes the LS Driver Alert package as standard and adds a locking rear differential, power liftgate, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, driver memory settings, heated front seats, eight-way power front passenger seat, leather upholstery, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 8-inch touchscreen with the Chevrolet MyLink interface and nine-speaker Bose sound system with three additional USB ports.

To the LT's standard equipment, the LTZ adds foglights, front parking sensors, heated power-folding outside mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, heated second-row seats, power tilt-and-telescoping heated steering wheel, power-folding third-row seats and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts. The LTZ also includes 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive magnetic shock absorbers for the suspension, xenon headlights, ventilated front seats and upgraded 10-speaker Bose audio system. Adaptive cruise control with frontal crash mitigation is also offered for the LTZ.

All 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe models come with a 5.3-liter V8 engine that generates 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. Sole transmission is conventional 6-speed automatic. Rear- or four-wheel-drive systems are offered. The 4WD system includes a two-speed transfer case with low-range gearing. A locking rear differential is standard on the LT and LTZ and optional for the Tahoe LS. Properly equipped, the maximum tow rating for the 2WD Tahoe is 8,600 pounds, and 8,400 pounds for the 4WD models.

All Tahoes are built in Arlington, Texas, and carry a 995 destination charge.

Get Up and Go - In a class where towing and hauling are prerequisites, having a torquey V8 engine is almost a requirement - Ecoboost notwithstanding. And, honestly, General Motors makes some of the most reliable and efficient V8s on the planet. The Tahoe's V8 is a perfect example. It is as refined as any "truck" engine and puts many V8 mills in more-expensive luxury SUVs to shame in terms of overall smoothness. It's plenty powerful and efficient with gas as well.
Given a straight stretch of road and a heavy throttle foot, a 2015 4WD Tahoe will run from 0-60 mph in less than 7.5 seconds. That's fast by midsize car standards and downright quick for a 5300-pound SUV. Equally impressive is the slick-shifting six-speed automatic. Gear changes go unnoticed and downshifts are prompt when more power is necessary. The transmission features a tow/haul mode that's designed to aid when operating with a heavy load or large trailer. One downside is the economy-minded throttle response. A result tightening EPA fuel-economy standards, the long-travel throttle results in the engine feeling somewhat sleepy around town. Thankfully that can easily be overcome with a slightly more aggressive right foot.

EPA Fuel economy ratings for the 2WD Tahoe come in at 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. Those are among the best in class. In routine city driving, you'll likely average close to 18 mpg and if you throw in some relaxed highway cruising you might see as high as 20 mpg overall. Straight highway driving at 70 mph can net the EPA rating of 23 mpg. The EPA rating and real-world numbers are no-doubt helped by General Motor's trick cylinder deactivation system. When minimal power is called for, the engine switches to 4-cylinder mode to save gas. It's seamless in operation and doesn't affect reliability at all.

On the Road - Big as it is, the Tahoe isn't as beastly to drive as you might expect. Sure, the sheer bulk of its 116-inch wheelbase can be daunting to those accustomed to compact crossovers, but the new Tahoe is the kind of vehicle that shrinks around a driver over time. Additionally, outward visibility is quite good and there are lots of park-assist, lane-minding and blind-spot gadgets to assist drivers who might be afraid to get behind the wheel.

The Tahoe is most at home out on the open road where the long-wheelbase and long-travel suspension soak up road imperfections to provide an almost cushy ride. On badly broken roads or on uneven pavement the Tahoe can pitch and wallow a bit - a trait most noticeable on the base LS. Either way, occupants won't complain of trucky ride in the least. If you are considering the available 22-inch wheels note that the ride provided is much firmer and might not be well suited to the Midwest's frost-heaved roads.

Steering is heavily boosted and that results in car-like effort but little road feel. Then again, who's going to be pushing a rig this big through a slalom course? Brakes have ample stopping power and have a very easy-to-modulate pedal regardless of load. Excessive body motions are adequately quelled and lean in fast turns and sudden maneuvers is acceptably low. The Tahoe isn't as hard to park as its exterior bulk would suggest thanks to reasonably quick steering.

Interior noise levels are very low. Engine and exhaust note never intrude and there's little tire roar or wind rush. That's impressive given the vehicle's mission and size. Overall, the Tahoe is a pleasant daily driver and comfortable highway cruiser.

Behind the Wheel - Chevrolet engineers and designers listened to current Tahoe owners and and created an interior that was at once familiar, welcoming and functional. Given the Tahoe's diverse mission, it would have been easy for Chevy to slap togeather a truck-tough interior with lots of hard plastics and durable surfaces. However, it seems like careful attention was paid to nearly every surface so that the interior of the Tahoe remained durable but also conveyed a sense of elegance and modernism. Soft materials dominate most touch points and fit-and-finish was exemplary.

Drivers face a gauge cluster with crisp white-on-black graphics that are a snap to read day or night. There is also a central information display with easy-to-decipher graphics and an intuitive menu of functions. The standard 4.2- and optional 8.0-inch central color infotainment displays feature sophisticated (and in some cases reconfigurable) graphic options. Climate controls are quite conventional and straightforward - even the rear-seat controls. Tahoe is available with two different navigation systems. One is the standard memory-based map with voice or touch-screen destination entry. Tahoe is also available with OnStar navigation. While it requires an active subscription, OnStar navigation quickly downloads directions to a location without taking your eyes off the road or stopping to program.

One great Tahoe feature that is just starting to become available is in-vehicle WiFi. Also provided by OnStar, it's a pay as you go plan that's certainly worth its weight in gold if you are constantly toting the kids around or work at a job that requires you to have a laptop in the vehicle. Another nice feature is the wireless charging pad on the center armrest. Simply place a wireless charging enabled phone, like the Nexus5, on the pad and you'll get a quick battery boost - no cord required.

Oversized front seats are more than comfortable and provide ample support on long trips. Front head and leg room are generous. Unfortunately, tilt and telescope steering wheel doesn't come standard on the LS and it should. One nice feature is an available vibrating driver seat that alerts when you wander out of your lane or get too close to parked objects. Second-row seats provide good support and also have good room for large adults. Third-row seats are best left to children, though getting in and out isn't too difficult given the tip-and-fold second-row seats.

Overall, cargo capacity is acceptable but not as good as some competitors. With all seats in place, there is only 15.3 cubic feet for luggage. Folding the third-row seats provides 51.6 cubic feet of cargo space. Put the second and third rows down and capacity grows to 94.7 cubes. At least the third-row seats fold into the floor now, rather than sitting on top. While this creates a nice flat load floor, it's also necessitates a higher-than expected load floor that might be daunting to some looking to load heavy objects. The rear hatch has a separate-opening glass. That's welcome for small-item storage, though Chevrolet did add the hands-free liftgate option this year. 

Bottom Line - Though the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe doesn't seem all that much different than last-year's model, it's fully redesigned and a completely modern take on a large SUV. It packs a fuel-efficient V8, ample passenger and cargo room, impressive towing and payload capacities, and more technology than the space shuttle into its large frame.

I certainly wouldn't recommend Tahoe, or any full-size SUV, to anyone who wasn't going to take advantage of its capabilities. There's no reason for it, as some larger midsize SUVs are more fuel efficient and offer nearly as much passenger or cargo space. Still, if you need the towing or hauling capacity, want a real four-wheel-drive system, or consistently haul around larger-than-average passengers, there may be no better full-size SUV offering than the Tahoe. Huge props to Chevrolet for setting the standard in the class.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.