Everything that buyers liked about the previous Chevy Tahoe is still here in the redesigned 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe: handsome truck styling, three rows of seats with accommodations for as many as nine people and a strong V8 engine that Chevrolet certifies for an 8,600-pound haul rating when properly equipped. Four-wheel drive with low-range gearing is still optional. And this all comes bundled with an interior that’s comfy and, by full-size SUV standards, quite luxurious.
But as minimally evolved as the 2015 Chevy Tahoe might initially appear, there’s nothing old-fashioned about the latest version of GM’s full-size SUV when it comes to versatility or technology. For the first time in a Tahoe, the third-row seat now folds into the floor instead of having to be removed (a key convenience that most competitors adopted years ago). Power-actuated folding for the second- and third-row seats is a new option, allowing those of small stature to more easily manage what used to be a cumbersome operation. Other notable upgrades for the new Tahoe include improved fuel economy, a new touchscreen interface with added smartphone integration and the latest electronic safety features (which remain vigilant even if the driver is not), among them a lane departure warning system, blind-spot monitoring and a frontal collision warning and mitigation system.
Of course, if you don’t really need the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe’s considerable towing capabilities, you might find that some more space-efficient and cozy crossover SUVs are a better fit. Although not as heavy-duty as the Tahoe, many large crossovers offer equal or greater people- and cargo-hauling abilities — without the trucklike driving dynamics. One of the species’ best is in Chevy’s own showroom: the eight-passenger 2015 Chevrolet Traverse, which offers substantially more cargo capacity. Options in the full-size traditional SUV realm include the 2015 Toyota Sequoia, which offers a very similar blend of functionality, performance and refinement, and the 2015 Ford Expedition, which receives a welcome makeover this year. If you’re set on buying a large, traditional SUV, though, the SUVS.com "C" rated Chevy Tahoe is worth a look.
As always, one major benefit of choosing Chevy’s traditional full-size SUV is standard V8 power. And the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe’s 5.3-liter V8 engine is certainly beefy enough to pull around a full complement of passengers and gear. It’s also plenty smooth and refined. The standard 6-speed automatic transmission gets the most out of the V8, with proper gear ratios both for hearty acceleration and quiet cruising. On the whole, the 2015 Tahoe’s cabin is as hushed as a luxury car, especially on the highway.
We’re less fond of the 2015 Tahoe’s lazy responses to gas pedal inputs, a result of GM’s efforts to calibrate the engine and transmission for maximum fuel mileage. With either two- or four-wheel drive, the 2015 Tahoe received an SUVS.com "C" rating, due in part to the lethargic feel from behind the steering wheel. There’s a noticeable delay when pressing on the gas pedal, whether you’re trying to execute a pass at highway speeds or accelerate from a stop.
With its standard adaptive suspension, the LTZ feels secure when going around turns and it soaks up irregular pavement with ease. The LT, however, is not nearly as smooth, with most small road imperfections making their way in to the cabin. We cannot recommend the optional 22-inch wheels, regardless of trim level, because their mass (combined with their tires’ smaller sidewalls) adversely affects drive quality. The 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe’s new electric-assisted power steering system is commendably precise. That said, this is a large and heavy truck-based vehicle, and large crossover SUVs will generally feel easier to maneuver and more composed on rough pavement.
The 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe is a full-size SUV available in three trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ. Seating for eight is standard, but there are two optional seating arrangements. Second-row captain’s chairs drop the count to seven, and an available 40/20/40 front bench seat increases it to nine.
The base Tahoe LS comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, heated power-adjustable manual-folding mirrors, automatic wipers, a tilt-only steering wheel, tri-zone automatic climate control, power front seats (eight-way driver seat and four-way passenger seat, both with power lumbar), a 60/40 split-fold second-row bench seat and 50/50-split fold-flat third-row seat. Also standard are remote engine start, Bluetooth phone and sound connectivity, a 4.2-inch color display, a rearview camera, OnStar and a six-speaker sound system with HD and satellite radio, a CD player, an auxiliary sound jack, two USB ports and an SD card slot.
If you want nine-passenger capacity, you’ll need to get the LS, as the optional front bench seat is only available on this trim level. All Tahoes are prewired for towing and feature a 2-inch receiver, but a Max Trailering package is available across all trim levels and includes specific gearing, a trailer-brake controller and air suspension with increased load capacity and leveling. For the Tahoe LS, a Driver Alert option includes power-adjustable pedals, forward collision alert, lane-departure warning and a vibrating safety-alert seat.
The LT model includes the LS Driver Alert package as standard and adds a locking rear differential (available on LS), a power liftgate, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, driver memory settings, heated front seats, an eight-way power front passenger seat, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an 8-inch touchscreen with the Chevrolet MyLink interface (which includes voice control, smartphone app integration, text-to-voice capability for MAP-enabled smartphones, and Siri Eyes Free capability for newer iPhones) and a nine-speaker Bose sound system with three additional USB ports.
Second-row captain’s chairs (power- or manual-release) are optional for the LT. The Sun, Entertainment and Destination option package includes a sunroof, a navigation system and a rear-seat entertainment system with a Blu-Ray player. The Luxury package gets you foglights, front parking sensors, heated power-folding outside mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, heated second-row seats, a power tilt-and-telescoping heated steering wheel, power-folding third-row seats and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts.
To the LT’s standard equipment, the LTZ adds the contents of the LT Luxury package plus 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive magnetic shock absorbers for the suspension, xenon headlights, ventilated front seats and an upgraded 10-speaker Bose sound system. As on the LT, the Max Trailering and Sun, Entertainment and Destination packages are optional. Adaptive cruise control with frontal crash mitigation is also offered for the LTZ.
Of course, no full-size SUV would be complete without a variety of available 20- and 22-inch wheels. In addition, Chevy plans to offer an enhanced OnStar package with a 4G LTE connection that provides a Wi-Fi hotspot (late availability).
The overall quality and design of the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe’s interior is noticeably improved compared to the previous-generation SUV. Materials are of high quality, and the gauge cluster’s crisp white-on-black graphics are a snap to read day or night. The central information display is intuitive to navigate and its graphics are simple and easily interpreted. Both the standard 4.2- and optional 8.0-inch central color infotainment displays feature sophisticated (and in some cases reconfigurable) graphic options. Unfortunately, MyLink can sometimes be slow to respond to your touch inputs.
Most shoppers will find the front seats cozy and reasonably supportive. The lack of a telescoping steering wheel in the LS model will make it harder for some people to get an ideal driving position, however. The optional power-releasing second- and full-power up/down third-row seats work with ease. The third-row seat is fine for small children, but its low mounting to the floor means taller teenagers and adults will likely find their knees pushed up uncomfortably toward the roof. Most large crossovers offer more spacious third-row seating.
Given the very cumbersome nature of the previous-generation Tahoe’s third-row seat removal procedure (not to mention their vulnerability to smash-and-grab thieves), we’re happy to see Chevy has finally integrated the third row firmly into the truck’s floor. But the downside to those stow-away seats is a very high cargo floor height (36 inches), which makes it more difficult for shorter owners to load strollers or bigger shopping hauls.
Overall, cargo capacity is acceptable but not great, as many crossovers offer more space and have a lower load height. With all seats occupied in the Tahoe, you’ll have only 15.3 cubic feet for luggage. Fold the third-row seats down and there are 51.6 cubic feet. With the second and third rows down, maximum capacity stands at 94.7 cubes. Not only is this less room than in other large SUVs, it’s significantly less volume than you’ll get in a Chevrolet Traverse, which tops out at 116 cubic feet.
Standard safety equipment on the 2015 Chevy Tahoe includes antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control (with trailer-sway control), front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. An airbag located between the front bucket seats (when so equipped) is also standard and aids in side-impact crashes. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen car assistance and turn-by-turn navigation. Rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are standard on every Tahoe.
Depending on the trim level, front parking sensors, forward collision alert, lane-departure warning, a vibrating safety-alert seat, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring are either optional or standard.
In SUVS brake testing, a Tahoe LTZ 4WD came to a stop from 60 miles per hour in 126 feet, while a 2WD LT stopped in 121 feet. Both are short distances for vehicles in this class.
In government crash tests, the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe received four out of five possible stars for overall crash protection, with five stars for total frontal impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection.
All 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe models come with a 5.3-liter V8 engine that generates 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission transmits power through the rear wheels on 2WD models or all four wheels on 4WD models. The 4WD Tahoe is offered with a two-speed transfer case with low-range gearing. A locking rear differential is standard on the LT and LTZ and optional for the Tahoe LS.
Properly equipped, the maximum haul rating for the 2WD Tahoe is 8,600 pounds, and 8,400 pounds for the 4WD models.
In SUVS testing, a Tahoe LTZ 4WD hit 60 miles per hour in 7.3 seconds while a 2WD LT did it in 7.1 seconds; both are quick performances for full-size SUVs. The EPA’s estimated fuel economy is also very good for a full-size SUV at 18 miles per gallon combined regardless of driveline (16 city/23 highway for 2WD models and 16/22 for 4WD).
Strong V8 power; stout towing capacity; available nine-person seating capacity; quiet highway ride; extraordinary interior quality.
The 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe deserves consideration if you’re shopping for a large, truck-based SUV with three rows of seating and extraordinary towing capacity. But for everyday passenger and cargo use, a large crossover SUV might be a better choice.