PHOENIX Chevrolets 2007 Tahoe is a completely different vehicle, and you can feel that after a couple of miles.
With a 5.3-liter V-8 and 320 horses on board, theres plenty of power, but the overall feel is one of sophistication and comfort. The V-8 shuts down four cylinders in cruising situations, resulting in a segment-best city/highway mileage of 21.3 miles per gallon for a two-wheel-drive model.
Goals for the redesign included a more precise driving feel, more power, improved fuel economy and a refined interior, and Chevys engineers scored on every point.
Since Chevrolets Tahoe is the best-selling full-size SUV, bringing out a new model, even in a time of slowing SUV sales, is significant.
Chevrolet has sold 1.6 million Tahoes since 2001, and the industry forecast is for 750,000 full-size SUVs to be sold in 2006. Chevy hopes the new Tahoe will help maintain its share of that business.
The Tahoe is but one model of a family of SUVs. Each GM SUV is built on an entirely new chassis with a fully boxed frame, coil-over-shock front suspension, rack-and-pinion steering and wider front and rear tracks. The wheelbase remains at 116 inches for the Tahoe and 130 inches for the Suburban and corporate siblings, the Cadillac Escalade ESV and GMC Yukon.
The Tahoe can be equipped with three rows of seats, although the split-folding rear seat takes up almost all of the cargo space. Shipments to dealers begin this month. Other models will follow later in the year.
The climb out of Phoenix on the highway toward Payson, Ariz., showcased the engines seamless ability to shut down four cylinders when they arent needed. It was impossible to feel when the engine was running on four or eight cylinders.
Making these new trucks quieter was a major goal. Sound-deadening components are used in the headliner, door seals and firewall. The engine gets a special cover and noise-reducing alternator.
A stiffer frame reduces vibrations and enables the suspension to be more compliant. As we bumped down the Apache Trail gravel road, the new coil-over front suspension and revised rear axle kept the truck steady and sure over washboard surfaces. The tendency for the rear axle to step out in these conditions has been nearly eliminated.
GMs StabiliTrak vehicle stability control system is standard, and it is designed to help mitigate rollovers. Side-curtain airbags with rollover protection are optional.
Refinement shows up in various ways. First, the styling is clean and crisp. Four-millimeter shut lines and body seams are on par with world-class luxury cars. Chrome trim is used in small, tasteful doses. Reclining the windshield reduces aerodynamic drag, lowers wind noise and improves fuel economy. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard and 20-inch wheels are optional. Anti-lock, four-wheel disc brakes are standard as well.
General Motors new interiors have vastly improved styling. The instrument panel has elegant gauges, few seams and surface textures like those of a Cadillac. The dash has been moved down and forward for better visibility and a feeling of spaciousness. A band of brushed aluminum trim separates the top and bottom sections. Fancier models have woodgrain trim on the console and in place of the brushed aluminum band. Though the woodgrain is an appliqu, it looks real and gives a touch of warmth and luxury to the cabin.
Controls on the center stack are elegantly styled and easy to use. They have a quality feel that was missing in previous models. Convenience items include OnStar, a power fold-and-tumble second-row seat that eases access to the third-row seat, a power-assisted rear lift gate, remote vehicle start, heated front and rear seats, rear parking assist, a rearview camera, navigation system and a rear-seat DVD system with an 8-inch LCD screen. Power adjustable pedals, rain-sensing wipers, a tire-pressure monitoring system and heated windshield-washer fluid are other handy options.