• Apr 3, 2006

Without a doubt, the area most in need of improvement with General Motors' full-size trucks has been with their interiors. We'll avoid running down a list of faults, as it's likely that nearly every one of our readers has been exposed to a GMT800 at one point or another. Let's just say that not only was it not in the competition's ballpark, it was readily apparent that it wasn't even playing the same game. As such, GM needed to hit a home run with the GMT900's touch, appearance, lighting, and coloration, all while offering a level of functionality and versatility to justify the Tahoe's bulk. Let's step inside our '07 Chevy Tahoe LT to see if the General has succeeded.

[Click through for plenty of pictures, observations, and commentary...]

The first thing that noticed by the truck owners on Autoblog's staff is just how easy it is to climb into this SUV. With running boards just above ankle height and satin-finish metal sill plates only a half step above that, ingress and egress was incredibly easy, even for your height-challenged author and his even shorter wife. Macho types that enjoy the act of ascending a half-story into their trucks need not apply.

Once settled into the driver's seat, the all-new interior has a profound impact on those who have calibrated their expectation meter to GM's prior truck offerings. The leather seat cover actually resembles something of an organic nature, the materials that aren't supposed to be glossy have an even matte sheen, and the stuff that's supposed to shine does so proudly. The seats have a vertically adjustable lumbar support that's certain to help drivers of all shapes and sizes. Once again, we felt that the lower cushion was just a bit too long for shorter drivers, but those of larger stature are likely to find comfort easily. We'd also like to feel significantly more lateral support, but we know better than to ask such a thing of truck seats. The additional width of the GMT900 platform is immediately noticeable, but when there is only a pair of bucket seats, the five feet and four inches of room between the door panels seems just a bit superfluous. We suspect that this additional room may not be truly appreciated until we experience a bench-seat regular-cab truck on this platform.

We especially appreciated the classy two-tone tan and gray ("Dark Titanium" in General's tongue) of our tester, as they combined to prevent the dark and dour mood that larger interiors tend to take on when done in a single hue. The prospect of maintaining the appearance of such light colors over the life of the vehicle is a bit daunting, though - especially when the kid-hauling usage profile of such a vehicle is considered, but there are always darker shades in the catalog to consider. Adding to the overall look is a rather realistic simulated wood trim, liberal use of bright chrome, and a few bits of brushed metal here and there to satisfy our industrial fashion sense.

To go along with the windshield's sharper rake, the dashboard has been pushed away from the driver and is quite a bit lower than previous GM trucks. Combined with the trademark low beltline and tall seating position, the Tahoe makes good on the much-coveted "commanding view of the road" vantage point.

The Tahoe's gauge cluster combines six analog dials and a multifunction display to communicate a vast array of information about the vehicle's operation. Especially entertaining is the instantaneous fuel economy display, which incorporates a tell-tale to show whether the Displacement on Demand system was operating in V4 or V8 mode. The blue backlighting looks lovely, but probably isn't the best color for nighttime driving. Further complicating matters was a dimmer control that refused to reduce the illumination levels to our preferred barely perceptible levels.

Cruise-control functions are completely removed from the wiper stalk and placed on the left spokes of the steering wheel, but it takes a simian's thumb to use the buttons without shifting hand positions on the leather-wrapped rim. On the right are useful controls for the radio and hands-free OnStar system. The size and shape of the column-mounted shift lever remind of an axe handle-- even Paul Bunyan types should not fear breaking off this stalk.

Shifting our gaze to the center stack reveals a Bose audio system and two-thirds of the vehicle's climate controls (our tester's LT3 spec gives second-row passengers their own set of HVAC dials). Everything here has the look and feel of quality, but in the process of eliminating the sometimes cartoonishly large buttons of yore, it's now extremely difficult to operate the system's tiny pushbuttons while wearing gloves. The track information displayed when using XM satellite radio also had us wishing for a multi-line display on the head unit.

Below the center stack lays a console that seems larger than most subcompact cars. The open bin provides substantial volume in which to place cell phones, PDAs, and MP3 players, but the interior of the console is less roomy than its exterior would suggest.

A few pokes around reveal that not all is what it seems, however. A knuckle-rap on the well-textured dashboard results in a sharp knock that betrays its appearance, but the hard plastic at least looks pleasant enough. The softer material used for the door panels has just a bit of that distinctively cheap PVC feel, and we were able to elicit a few squeaks and squawks by pressing hard enough on certain trim pieces. None of those same pieces made so much of a single noise during actual driving, though.

Moving back to the three-position second row seating (a pair of buckets can be ordered in place of the bench), we find adequate but not breathtaking amounts of room. With the front seats moved to the most rearward position, taller adults may actually find themselves wishing for a bit more legroom. While a peek at the spec sheet shows that the GMT900-based Tahoe is actually a few tenths of an inch narrower through the hips than its predecesor in this area, it seemed if anything to feel more roomy and open.

Our tester lacked the optional rear-seat DVD entertainment system, but we'd like to see one as a standard feature given our people-mover's $43k pricetag.

The first of our significant gripes comes as we move to the optional 2-position third row of seating (it's also possible to order up three chairs out back). Quite simply, the short wheelbase (relative to the Suburban, anyway) combines with the Tahoe's particularly cumbersome second row folding technique makes third row access a spontanious athletic event. Operating the large handle for the latch resulted in some PG-13 rated language on a few occasions, and the seat itself is rather heavy.  When imagining a mother trying to help her children into the rearmost seats while juggling a couple handfuls of miscellanea, suddenly the power-folding option seems justifiable.

Rear seats can be folded or removed completely, but when installed they dramatically reduce the amount of available cargo space. It takes only a tug of the seats' handles to unlatch them from the Tahoe's cargo floor, but we're guessing that they each weigh in the neighborhood of 50 pounds, and thus strike like a chiropractor visit waiting to happen. By the time we'd removed both and folded the second row of seats to accommodate a trip to the local Home Depot, we felt as if we'd just gone a few rounds on the Total Gym that Chuck Norris hawks on late-night infomercials.

Overall, we're quite pleased with the quality of the interior, and drivers in particular will have little reason to complain about the Tahoe's accoutrements. Unfortunately, the difficulty of accessing the third row and the lack of storage behind said seating takes a sizable bite out of this vehicle's utility-- troubling considering that this is supposedly half of the vehicle's functionality. We know that the Suburban's extra wheelbase is a large burden when looking for a parking spot at the mall, but if there's a need to regularly carry more than five adults, then we have no other choice than to recommend Supersizing one' s order at the Chevrolet dealership.

Stay tuned for the final installment of our Autoblog Garage review of the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe, when we hit the road (and even leave it) to see how the GMT900 chassis handles a dynamic driving environment. We'll also report back with our fuel economy calculations our  week with the Tahoe, and issue a final verdict.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 23 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Does GM think that a third row seat that folds into the floor as just a passing fad?"

      No. They think that customers would rather have a solid rear axle. There is not enough room for the solid axle and the foldaway third row. The Expedition has an independent rear suspension and, thus, more space.
      • 8 Years Ago
      It boggles my mind to read comments about "fake wood." From the pictures, this looks like the veneer from a fine piece of cabinetry or desk. I just don't see how this finish looks cheap, or any worse/better than the "fake wood" in an Avalon. I wish reviewers would get some "world" sense of real cars: What is being built and how. I think Buick Park Avenue was the last car to put real wood into it's dash, (just kidding the Escalade and M-B use the real thing still). But I remember reading a review (not Autoblog) of that "fake wood."
      I've done both furniture and car design, and this is a lovely interior, and a quantum leap from the square plastic "rectangular-box" interiors that GM trucks suffered from too long. Congratulations to Chevy designers, finally an interior to compare to a Cadillac or Lexus.
      My personal preference is to Ford and Audi interiors, but, I don't make dumb comments about another nice design because it's not my preferred brand.
      Good is good, people.
      Bill
      • 8 Years Ago
      Can you get a navigation system with the Tahoe? I like the idea of OnStar, I don't want to pay for instructions.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Okay, I have to say, good job GM.

      But on the flipside...

      Doesn't it seem like once you see *one* of GM's *new* interiors, you have seen them all?
      • 8 Years Ago
      You guys need to calm down until you drive the vehical. My tahoe has luxury amenties you can get close to on an Audi, it rides and drive like a dream. Well worth the 50,680 sticker which if fully loaded, as opposed to 55+ on other full size luxury SUV's
      • 8 Years Ago
      This drama of this journalists writing is so lame.

      "we're guessing that they each weigh in the neighborhood of 50 pounds, and thus strike like a chiropractor visit waiting to happen."

      Oh come on, fifty pounds? The things these auto journalists complain about is so rediculous.

      And that getting into the third row is "a spontaneously athletic event." Ok, show me one SUV with a third row where thats not the case.

      And compaining about not having a folding third row seat is the same stupid observation by EVERY auto journalist who has done a review of this vehicle. The fact is, a fold-away seat is ALWAYS a trade off in space, no matter how it is designed. Another downside to a lot of those fold away seats is they tend to be thin, and have short seat backs, which isn't as comfortable or solid. How often do you use all of the cargo space, and then unexpectedly go pick up 7 people? I highly doubt many people do that. When you go out, you usually know what you're doing. The need for fold away rear seats is an invented "need" not unlike the "need" most people think they have for SUV's in the first place.

      • 8 Years Ago
      I don't suppose you good heterosexuals care if you're killing you're own children by driving a pollution machine like this?
      • 8 Years Ago
      These are the equivalent of Station wagons from the 70's or minivans in the 80's. They are cushy mommy-mobiles which sacrifice both onroad agility (with their bulk and soft-tuned suspensions) and offroad prowess (with their large dimensions and compromised, running-boarded ground clearance) in pursuit of serving as the next family truckster.

      http://www.hollywood-diecast.com/truckster.jpg

      These are minivans... minivans with inflated pricing, outdated design, and flabby construction, and a major price premium for those feel threatened by being seen as parents.
      • 8 Years Ago
      What's the deal with fake wood trim anyway? Sure, wood looks nice, so why not use the real deal? A few pieces of wood tastefully applied couldn't possibly cost too much considering this vehicle's price tag. Heck, my VW has real wood trim. Every time you look at the dash and see plastic printed with a wood-like surface how could you not think, "Wow, that almost looks real! Too bad it's a cheap imitation knockoff." I would rather spend another $50-$100 on the vehicle price if it meant having the genuine article.
      • 8 Years Ago
      While this is vastly improved (interior wise) from the trailblazer that was reviewed a few weeks ago, I'm just not seeing what justifies the cost of this vehicle. Over $40k for a truck with pretty minimal amenities. They're in luxury territory at this point, with the new Audi Q7 starting at only $7k more than this, and giving you likely better performance and top of the line luxury features even in the base model. At $25k this thing would be a real winner, but at over 40 I'm choking. What does this thing really have to justify that kind of price?
      • 8 Years Ago
      The interior looks really good. It's very Honda-like, sort of a supersized first generation CR-V with a full console. This is hardly a bad thing; which after years of horrible GM interiors, you have to imitate before you can accel with your own style... fake it before you make it. The exterior also looks somewhat Honda-like as well, but I digress.

      The strangest part is the rear seating. Why don't those seats slide forward to allow easier rear access, plus adjustable legroom. From the images, it doesn't look like the center row is capable of any fore-aft adjustment at all. The rear seats also don't fold flat into the floor.

      This is a pricey vehicle, for something that basically does the same job as an Odyssey with less efficiency and finesse. Also, is the spare under the rear seat, or did they stick with that Gawd-awful ratcheting wheel suspender that you have to crank-down through a hole in the rear bumper.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Another nicely illustrated, helpfully detailed write-up.

      My impressions are similar to your own. The new interior is nice enough that the Escalade's doesn't seem a large upgrade to me. Especially since the Caddy's copious amounts of similarly fake wood aren't sufficiently convincing.

      I'm not so sure the power-folding seats are worthwhile, though. They only power release then spring forward; they must be manually returned to an upright position. $425 seems an excessive amount for this limited amount of functionality. A better-engineered manual release would be vastly preferable, even if it wouldn't provide as good a counter to the power folding (and unfolding) stowable third row in the Expedition. Yes, I smell the hand of marketing in this one.

      My full review of the new Tahoe: http://www.epinions.com/content_221122956932
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