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Chevrolet Tahoe review: It ain't heavy, it's the Tahoe

Quick steering response makes Chevy SUV feel much smaller

For those in the market for a full-size SUV, Chevrolet’s redesigned version of the Tahoe is worthy of a look, Jil McIntosh says.

Courtesy GM

For those in the market for a full-size SUV, Chevrolet’s redesigned version of the Tahoe is worthy of a look, Jil McIntosh says.

Between gas prices, congestion and parking woes, full-size SUVs don’t have the cachet they once did. But there’s still a place for them, and so GM has completely redesigned its Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban.

The two are essentially the same, but the Suburban rides on a longer wheelbase, with more legroom and cargo space. The 2015 models got the update, while the 2016 versions are unchanged except for some trim items.

I drove the Tahoe. Like the Suburban, it uses a 5.3-litre V8 as before, but this is a new version that, at 355 horsepower, is more powerful than the 320-horse version it replaces. It comes in two- or four-wheel drive, and when properly equipped, it can tow up to 3,856 kg (8,500 lbs), an important factor in a vehicle that many people buy in place of a truck.

For all its bulk, and it is big, the Tahoe doesn’t feel heavy. Much of that has to do with its quick steering response, which makes it feel like you’re piloting something much smaller. The cabin is extremely quiet, and the strong engine accelerates swiftly and smoothly when power is needed. Its fuel economy will seem high if you’re accustomed to a smaller crossover, but its published figures are the best of its competitors.

The interior is handsome, and the first- and second-row seats are comfortable, but the third row is another story. Perched above the rear axle, these flat-cushioned chairs are close to the floor and leave you sitting with your chin on your knees. Unless you have small children, or friends desperate for a ride, you’ll probably keep them folded down to give you more cargo space.

Available in three trim lines, the Tahoe also offers a number of option packages that add some nice features but also can get pricey. My mid-range LT trim was optioned to more than $68,400, but still didn’t have a navigation system. That said, for those in the market for a full-size SUV, Chevrolet’s redesigned version is very well done and worthy of a look.

The checklist: 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe

THE BASICS
Type. Four-door, 7- or 8-passenger full-size SUV
Engine (hp/torque). 5.3-litre V8 (355/383)
Transmission. Six-speed automatic
Price. $52,740 (base), $68,435 (tested), plus destination

COOL FEATURES
• Wireless phone charging
• Heated steering wheel
• Heated and cooled front seats
• Rain-sensing wipers
• Adaptive cruise control
• Front collision warning with automatic braking
• Tri-zone automatic climate control

POINTS
• The GMC Yukon and Yukon XL are the mechanical twins to the Tahoe and Suburban, but slightly more upscale and pricier.
• The 5.3-litre V8 uses active fuel management, which shuts off fuel to half the cylinders when full power isn’t needed for better efficiency.
• If the lane departure system notices you drifting out of your lane, it vibrates the seat as a warning.

MARKET POSITION
Large SUVs are a niche market, but can be popular with those who need passenger and cargo space while towing boats or trailers. GM and Ford are the only mainstream companies to offer one model in two different lengths.

THE COMPETITION
Ford Expedition — Base price: $52,399
Dodge Durango — Base price: $41,895
Toyota Sequoia — Base price: $54,535

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