• Apr 7, 2006

It's now time to bring our review of the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe LT to a close. We've looked over the fresh sheetmetal and crawled around the all-new interior, but before rendering a verdict we have to get behind the wheel and see if the redesigned SUV has the driving dynamics to back up its looks.

[Click through for pics, commentary, and our final thoughts on the new Tahoe...]

Under the Tahoe's hood, we find the GenIV version of the company's long-running line of small-block V8 engines. The 325 HP 5.3L engine features Displacement On Demand (DOD), which shuts down half of the cylinders under light-load conditions. This reduces the pumping losses, thus improving fuel economy. We observed 15 MPG while driving in "mixed" conditions (what we considered to be a fairly even mix of urban, two-lane highway, and expressway travel), and pulled down just over 17.5 MPG while cruising at 75 MPH on the expressway. Those are great figures for a full-size SUV, but we didn't exactly feel like we were saving the planet, either. The Tahoe is capable of running on E85 (despite our tester's lack of a yellow gas cap), but as ever, the trick remains finding a gas station that carries it.

The 5.3L delivers sufficient power, although there's no doubt that it's tasked with moving around a substantial amount of mass. The engine makes some interesting noises as it goes about its business, with an almost musclecar-like exhaust note replacing the wheezing sounds we expect to hear from this type of vehicle. In fact, some may even find the V8 rumble to be a bit too much for their liking (not us, but hey...).

Backing up this fine engine is GM's 4L60E four-speed automatic. While we expect most of our readers to focus on the number of available gear ratios (or lack thereof), that really wasn't the main source of our complaints. Rather, it was the transmission's complete and total lack of willingness to downshift that frustrated. We've experienced this gearbox in several dozen other applications and haven't had this problem to the same extent, so we chalk it up to matter of electronic calibration problem rather than a fundamental flaw of the hardware. Regardless of the cause, expect to file paperwork (in triplicate, signed, and notarized) if you want to trigger a 4th to 2nd downshift. Putting the trans into the Tow/Haul mode helped slightly, but then the upshifts were delayed far longer than prudent (probably the result of being optimized for, uh, towing and hauling). On the positive side of things, the shift feel was generally quite good. If we owned one of these, it'd be receiving an immediate reflash of the transmission shift points.

Rounding out the drivetrain is GM's Autotrac transfer case, which offers the driver a choice of 2WD, full-time 4WD (achieved via the use of a progressively-locking clutch pack, not a center differential), and part-time 4WD Hi and Low modes. We think that it's an ideal arrangement for such a vehicle, although having an available low range seemed a bit odd for a vehicle that will drag its air dam on parking-lot curbs.

A solid axle is hung from a set of four trailing arms out back, while the front of the truck receives an updated version of GM's SLA independent suspension. Gone are the torsion bars; in their place lie a set of coil springs. Aluminum lower control arms replace the previous generation's ferrous bits, and front-mounted rack-and-pinion steering equipment is used in lieu of the recirculating-ball gearbox that has been a GM hallmark for several decades.

Over most road conditions - even the Midwest's famed cratered spring pavement - the GMT900's improved rigidity almost makes it possible to ignore that one is driving a body-on-frame vehicle-- believe it or not, the solid rear axle behaves itself in virtually all situations. It's possible to upset the Tahoe's composure with the right sequence of backroad bumps and ruts, but for the most part, the overall structural integrity is a huge improvement over previous generations. We were also pleased with the spring and damper rates, which do an admirable job of keeping the big truck under control even when thrown around like a car. Get too crazy, and the Stabilitrak stability control system will step in with authority to issue a reminder that this isn't a sport car, and should not be treated as such. We elected not to push things further to see if the system indeed works as claimed, keeping the shiny side up.

Quite simply, the Tahoe steers with precision not expected of a 5800-pound SUV with a waist-high center of gravity. We'd prefer less power assist - the efforts seemed tuned towards those who like to hold a cell phone in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other, but at least every bit of wheel movement translates into a meaningful response from the vehicle.

The same magic has been carried over to the brakes, which may possess the best pedal feel we've ever experienced on a mass-market body-on-frame SUV. The takeup is immediate, with virtually no lash, and the amount of boost provided dead-nuts perfect. It does take a fair bit of shove on the pedal to bring the Tahoe to a rapid stop, but that's to be expected with nearly 3 tons of mass (we prefer this situation than to have pads that are excessively grabby). As usual, GM's ABS system works well, although the lack of traction provided by the OEM tires ultimately limits the effectiveness of the braking hardware. 

So, you ask... what's the verdict? While GM has done an admirable job of improving every aspect of the Tahoe's performance, the operational envelope of full-size SUVs was long ago described by Sir Issac Newton. The main competition for the Tahoe and its stablemates isn't so much the Ford Expedition or Toyota Sequoia, but rather the laws of physics. Viewed in the context of its full-size SUV competition, there is little question that GM has hit a home run, and we think it will deservedly continue to command the lion's share of its segment.



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  • 26 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Good for GM. They've perfected the dinosaur just before the asteroid gets here.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #1 was right about one thing ... His pilot probably is about $30 -- the cost of all those Coke cans it's made from.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Nice truck if you have $48k. I'll take my loaded Pilot at $30 and spend the additional $18 on a car for my daughter, insurance and gas for a year. JMO.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Tahoe is a great vehicle. good that should not get my post deleted.
      Now on to the thread. "buyers a(re) lemmings" Only if they buy a Tahoe. If they drink the Toyota happy juice they are informed and green. Please get it correct. Limmings=Detroit
      Informed/Green=Tokyo
      • 8 Years Ago
      Go ahead and buy one of these to haul around little Jimmy and Madison and to get you through the McDonalds drive-thru every day. Just remember that most people around you think you're an idiot.

      I'll never be courteous to a large SUV driver and I think a lot of people feel the same way.
      • 8 Years Ago
      In 2002 i traded in my '97 tahoe LT, (for a wrx wagon, but thats another blog) which i bought new in '97. Honestly, i loved the tahoe. Mainly because it was very truck-like. This new gen tahoe seems very nice, but i can't see owning this one. It sounds like it drives like a giant sedan. i have yet to drive one though. none the less, gm does get a thumbs up for producing the nicest full size family mover yet. in my opinion anyway.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Yes the NVG 246 transfer case does NOT have a center differential.
      Rear drive-mechanical
      Auto-has the clutch packs in hot standby for when the rear tires slip or will slip
      Lock-Off Road Drive, not for pavement, can not turn.
      Neutral-Got motorhome?
      Low range, Lock-Low speed pulling{straight] boat launch, Extra slow off roading.

      GM doesn't believe its consumers could handle a center differential.
      High range or Low range, open or lock. Too hard? No.
      Jeff
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hey Eric -

      Can't say I see the validity of the argument there. You're faulting GM for its faulty mileage ratings, when the latest crop of hybrids have been proven (in numerous and documented instances) to have even more significant gaps between their estimated and real-world mileage ratings.

      There's an ABC News report that states: "The Honda Civic sedan hybrid came up 46 percent short of the EPA mileage rating."

      Read the full article here:
      http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Autos/story?id=1274541

      As for people choosing a Pilot over a Tahoe, I agree that most of your average consumers would be better served by the smaller vehicle. But if you need space and significant towing capacity, a full-size SUV is the only way to go.
      • 8 Years Ago
      First, let me start off by saying that I really like this vehicle. The interior is nice, there's plenty of room (at least in the first two rows), and the exterior styling is sweet. But, unless you really need this type of vehicle (that would be only 30% of the people who buy this) it should not be on the road.
      My gripe is not with fuel economy or pollutants cause to be honest, we're gonna ruin this freakin world and hybrids or anything else using gasoline will not stop that. I'm sure someone will come up with something that will, but until then... My gripe is with safety. Sure, the people inside of the vehicle will probably be alright, but what about the people in your average mid-sized sedan? I just saw on the news a young pregnant woman was killed (including the baby) by a Dodge Durango while making a left turn in her Acura TL. And her husband is in critical condition.
      That really breaks my heart. But great vehicle, though.

      • 8 Years Ago
      Well Casey,

      I could give a royal rats ass if you are courteous to me in my Tahoe, just don't get in my lane or I'll run you down like a dog in the street.

      Sweetly Be,
      Twisted S Snake
      • 8 Years Ago
      #1 Just don't try to tow anything with your Honda. You are simply driving a minivan with crappy gas mileage. Check this out from Honda website:

      Towing requires installation of power steering fluid- and automatic tranmission fluid-cooler, both available exclusively from your Honda dealer.Premuim unleaded fuel is recommended when towing above 3500 lbs. Capacity of 4500 lbs. is for boat trailers and 3500 lbs. for all other trailers.

      The smaller Chevy Trailblazer can out tow your jacked minivan by a couple thousand pounds.

      • 8 Years Ago
      "They're only persisting because the auto industry keeps pushing them on us."

      You don't have to buy one you know, the fact is no company "pushes" a buyer into anything, the buyer buys it. Now, if you're saying that a lot of buyers a lemmings, well, I'd agree with that one.
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