2014 Chevrolet Tahoe Review

Tahoe

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2014 Chevrolet Tahoe Overview

With a redesign scheduled for next year, it's no surprise that the 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe comes with few changes from the 2013 model, which itself was a carryover from 2012. But there's another reason the Tahoe has stayed the same over the last few years: It's good at what it does.

While many SUVs have been downsized to accommodate market demand for greater fuel efficiency, the Tahoe remains a heavy, full-size, truck-based, body-on-frame vehicle that can tow serious loads, carry up to 9 passengers and haul plenty of cargo. If you have those needs, and appreciate clean, aerodynamic styling in an extra large size, this SUV is a must-see.

The most notable change for 2014 is the addition of a standard Convenience Package for all trims, including the base LS, that includes remote start, power-adjustable pedals and a rear-view camera with rear parking sensors. The base LS also comes standard with power windows, locks and mirrors, as well as manual dual-zone air conditioning, a 6-way power driver's seat, OnStar, stability control, tire pressure monitoring system, rear-seat audio controls, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, cruise control and satellite radio capability.

A jump up to the LT trim adds heated front seats, automatic tri-zone air conditioning, a Bose 9-speaker audio system and an ultrasonic rear parking system. The top-of-the-line LTZ trim comes with heated and cooled 12-way memory front seats, air-assisted load-leveling and a 10-speaker Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound audio system.

The other change for 2014 is a subtraction—the Hybrid trim is no longer available—so there is just one powertrain option for all 3 trim levels, although all are available with rear- or 4-wheel drive. The engine is a powerful and proven 5.3-liter V8 with variable valve timing, Active Fuel Management (4 of the cylinders shut down when you're decelerating or coasting) and FlexFuel capability, and it's mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

When using regular gasoline, the Tahoe gets 15 mpg city/21 highway and produces 320 hp and 335 lb-ft of torque. If it's running on E85 (85 percent ethanol), the efficiency drops to 11/16, but the power numbers increase slightly to 326 horsepower and 348 lb-ft of torque. The RWD models have a maximum payload of 1,633 pounds and can tow up to 8,500 pounds, and the the 4WD models have a 1,606-pound payload capacity and a 8,200-pound towing capacity.

The Tahoe also has plenty of power to accelerate, and even though it's a rather large vehicle, it handles with some unexpected grace. The fully-boxed frame helps with the responsiveness, as do the rack-and-pinion steering and the coil-over-shock front suspension.

While simple styling cues give the Tahoe's exterior a clean and handsome appeal, that same simplicity doesn't work as well on the interior. There's too much hard plastic, and the instrument panel has a dated feel, although the LTZ trim does get noticeable upgrades in the materials department. The first two rows of seats offer ample space, but the third row can be difficult to climb into and a bit cramped once you get there. And if that third row is occupied, there's only 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind it. If it's flipped forward, however, that number jumps to a whopping 60.3 cubic feet.

With its impressive size and sturdy lines, the Tahoe looks like a safe vehicle, and it has the features to back up that appearance. In addition to the StabiliTrak electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring, and OnStar services, all Tahoe models also come standard with traction control and dual front, side and curtain airbags that protect all three rows of passengers. The 2013 Tahoe received top (5-star) scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in frontal and side impact crash tests, and those results should carry over to the 2014 version.

Updated

After working at gas stations and car washes in high school, driving across the country more than a dozen times and even living on the road in a well-outfitted truck, Tim O'Sullivan finally started putting some of his automotive knowledge to work when he began writing for CarGurus in 2008. He's also an award-winning journalist and the Sports Editor at the Concord (NH) Monitor.

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