SAN ANTONIO, Tex. -- On the 1604 Anderson Loop beltway that rings San Antonio, one driver's right foot stomps the go-pedal to ignite a powerful yet efficient EcoTec3 V8 engine and propel a new 2015 iteration of Chevrolet's best-selling full-size SUV: Tahoe.
For Tahoe models of 2015, Chevrolet offers three trim versions -- entry-issue Tahoe LS, the well-equipped Tahoe LT and top-tier Tahoe LTZ. Each packs the new direct-injected 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8 engine and comes with rear-wheel 2-wheel-drive traction or optional 4-wheel-drive with low-range gearing.
Tahoe's redesigned passenger compartment is quieter, more comfortable and better-connected than previous editions, providing three rows of seats to accommodate as many as nine riders. There's a pair of buckets or optional 40/20/40 3-person bench on the front row, a second tier with fold-down 60/40-split 3-person bench or two captain's chairs plus a third bench with 50/50-split that for the first time also folds flat -- and you may select the push-button power-folding feature.
Chevy's design team added new technology features like six USB ports and six power outlets (including a 110-volt 3-prong outlet to support various electronic devices), OnStar connectivity with 4G LTE and WiFi hotspot, a keyless entry device with push-button starter, a conversation mirror in the overhead console with panoramic view of rear seats, optional 8-inch color touch screen radio with MyLink connectivity and an available rear-seat entertainment system with twin screens plus a Blu-ray DVD player.
Tahoe's cabin also provides massive cargo space -- up to 94.7 cubic feet of stow room behind the front seats with all rear seats folded.
Tahoe 2015 in its tip-to-tail remake is based on a new platform from General Motors. The architecture starts with fully boxed frame rails stretching the length of the vehicle for a rock-solid and rigid foundation using high-strength steel and hydroforming to provide more strength and rigidity with less weight.
The revamped cab structure integrates high-strength steel in both A and B pillars as well as roof rails and rocker panels, while ultra-high-strength steel segments show up in rocker panels to add protection for offset collisions.
Tahoe employs lightweight aluminum for some suspension components to boost rigidity and pare pounds, while new lightweight alloy wheels wear low-rolling-resistance tires to suppress cabin noise and vibration.
Brakes install a disc at every wheel -- ventilated front and rear -- with Duralife brake rotors and linkage to a 4-wheel anti-lock brake system with electronic traction and skid controls with added trailer-sway control.
A rack and pinion steering system gets electric power assistance, which contributes to powertrain fuel efficiency.
The exterior design appears aerodynamic with smooth lines and, due to aluminum applications for body and engine parts as well as the aluminum hood and liftgate panels, Tahoe's weight is pared, which translates to less fuel consumption.
Tahoe's EcoTec3 powertrain with lightweight aluminum block and head includes a FlexFuel version which burns regular unleaded 87-octane gasoline or E85-ethanol. The powertrain features GM's Active Fuel Management (AFM) technology which cuts by half the number of cylinders engaged in the combustion process when boosted power is not needed in order to conserve fuel.
The 5.3-liter V8 burning 87-octane gasoline makes 355 hp at 5600 rpm with 383 lb-ft of torque at 4100 rpm. It links to GM's 6L80 6-speed automatic transmission and brings EPA fuel scores of 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway for 2WD issues and 16/22 mpg (city/highway) for 4WD versions.
Trailering capacity of a 2015 Tahoe 2WD rigged with a Max Trailering package climbs to 8600 pounds.
Standard safety content for 2015 Tahoe models includes seven airbags with front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags plus a center front airbag. Rear parking sensors are aboard, along with a rearview camera. And OnStar provides automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, even turn-by-turn navigation. Tahoe's optional safety technologies range from side blind zone alert and lane change alert to rear cross traffic alert, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, crash imminent braking and GM's safety alert seat.
2015 Chevrolet Tahoe
Body Style: Sport utility vehicle SUV
MSRP: Starting at $45,550
MPG: 16 city/23 highway
Curb weight: 5,308 lbs to 5,545 lbs
2015 Chevrolet TahoeLS
2015 Chevrolet Tahoe LS 4WD
2015 Chevrolet Tahoe LT
2015 Chevrolet Tahoe LT 4WD
2015 Chevrolet Tahoe LTZ