General Motors recently announced that the redesigned 2015 Tahoe (and Suburban), which was introduced earlier this year, would receive a couple of significant running changes, such as OnStar 4G LTE with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, a hands-free liftgate and wireless charging. At that same announcement they hinted that a Z71 trim package could also be doable for the full-size SUV duo. GM went on to confirm that these SUVs would get indeed receive the option, saying more precise details would follow later in September.
It’s still unknown what the new Z71 option will include, but the package for the Silverado pickup comes with an off-road-style lower bumper and unique grille and grille badge, along with off-road suspension components like a limited-slip differential and package-specific interior appointments. With similar set of improvements, the Z71 package for the Silverado adds about $1,600 in LT trim while the LTZ adds only $680. Expect a similar pricing structure.
2015 Chevrolet Tahoe: the differences
The redesigned 2015 Tahoe’s ride and handling have been enhanced thanks to a number of engineering refinements which include a wider rear track and revised suspension geometry that includes a new cross-axis ball joint, more high-strength steel, shear-style body mounts and available Magneride magnetic ride control.
Like its platform brethrens, the GMC Yukon/Denali and Cadillac Escalade, the 2015 Tahoe inherits the many structural enhancements that GM bestowed upon its redesigned 2014 pickups.
The GM trio dominates the full-size SUV class with about a 70 percent market share, outselling Ford/Lincoln combo 5 to1, and Toyota/Lexus 10 to1. GM went all out with the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, giving it an all-new chassis, all-new styling, yet retaining its exterior signature, along with an upgraded suspension and engine, and an interior. In LTZ guise the Tahoe now appears more luxurious than the last-generation (2007-2013) Cadillac Escalade.
Most of these upgrades are inherited from GM’s redesigned 2014 full-size pickup trucks, but the magneto-rheological shocks, which is standard affair on the LTZ and High Country trim levels, is worthy of mention. The technology, which is used on the C7 Corvette and various Cadillac models, is capable of adapting its damping characteristics in as little as 10 milliseconds in response to changing road conditions. Suffice it to say the technology works as advertised, offering a smooth ride and responsive handling in one package with no extra work required of the driver.
The designs of the all-new Tahoe and Suburban reflect their greater functionality, technology and refinement, forging a new presence for Chevrolet SUVs that’s conveyed with unmistakable brand heritage.
New inlaid doors fit into the body side openings instead of over the top of the body, significantly improving the quietness of the interior cabin and contributing to improved aerodynamics – an attribute that helps the vehicles slip through the air on the highway with less drag for greater efficiency. Lightweight aluminum hood and lift gate panels also enhance efficiency through reduced overall mass.
Projector-beam headlamps flank the Chevrolet-signature dual-port grille – chrome on all models – and sweep into the front fenders. High-intensity discharge headlamps and light-emitting diode daytime running lamps are included on the up level LTZ model.
Inside, premium materials and enhanced ergonomics demonstrate the Tahoe and Suburban’s blend of sophistication, craftsmanship and function. A new instrument panel houses an available eight-inch color touch screen radio with a secured storage bin behind the motorized screen. The compartmentalized center console is large enough to store a laptop or iPad.
Our course you would have to live under a rock to not know that the Tahoe pulls double duty as both a civilian and governmental workhorse, especially for the law enforcement industry. For this application Chevrolet offers a PPV (Police Pursuit Vehicle) package not available to the general public, much the same way the Caprice PPV is not offer for consumer consumption.
Pricing begins at $45,595 for the RWD Tahoe LS, $50,995 for the mid-level LT and $59,995 for the top-tier LTZ. Adding 4-wheel-drive to any of the three trim levels is a across the board $3,000 up charge. Tow ratings for two-wheel drive mode is 8,600 pounds, and 8,400 pounds for four-wheel-drive. Three suspension packages are offered:
- ZW7 – Premium Smooth Ride, incorporating revised twin-tube shocks that offer greater damping at low speeds, a premium suspension. It is standard on LS and LT.
- Z85 – Premium Smooth Ride with Air Control, which constantly senses and adjusts the rear suspension height until it is level. It is part of the $300 Maximum Trailer Package available on LS and LT. It includes a 3.42 rear axle ratio, trailer brake controller, and in 4×4 models includes a 2-speed active transfer case. The LS and LT models include a Z85 Premium Smooth Ride Suspension Package with Air leveler.
- Z95 – Third-Generation Magnetic Ride Control. Standard on LTZ, it’s the world’s fastest-acting suspension – a real-time damping system that delivers more precise body motion control. It reads the road every millisecond and changes damping in just 10-15 milliseconds in shocks filled with a magneto-rheological (MR) fluid containing minute iron particles. Under the presence of magnetic charge, the iron particles align to provide damping resistance almost instantly.
All models come with a single powertrain choice; a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 engine mated to a Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic transmission, featuring TapShift control, Tow/Haul mode and Auto Grade Braking. While this setup may sound familiar to Tahoe aficionados, this powertrain is significantly different from its predecessor, featuring an aluminum block, direct injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation, and which all combine helps improve fuel economy while enhancing power and torque. Fuel economy is rated at 16/23 city/hwy for the 2-WD and 16/22 city/hwy for the 4-WD. In my week of driving I recorded an average of 15 mpg in city/freeway driving.
The revised engine also features GM’s Active Cylinder Management, which imperceptibly shuts off half of the cylinders under steady cruise to help preserve fuel. Of course there’s an available 4-wheel drive model with a proper off-road-ready low range, which could only be enhanced with the above mentioned Z71 package.
New body and boxed-frame designs improve structural rigidity, and a higher percentage of high-strength steel helps keep the weight in check. Up front is an independent front suspension, while a live rear axle with coil springs benefits from the Silverado’s slightly wider track.
However unlike the Silverado, the Tahoe offers constantly adjusting magnetorheological shocks. Now in its third generation, Magnetic Ride Control is standard on and exclusive to the top-level LTZ trim. These dampers help round off bumps and keep the body from bobbing excessively.
Electrically assisted steering is also a new feature, chosen for its simplicity and added benefit in fuel-economy. Lighter steering response helps make the Tahoe wieldier than its mass might suggest, and a 39-foot turning radius makes it more maneuverable than expected. Proof of that was my week of shuttling from various parking structures. With the use of the Tahoe’s back up camera, blind spot monitoring and various sensors, it was actually easier for me to maneuver this big rig than our own family mid-size sedan, which incidentally predates this technology.
The driving experience of the all-new 2015 Tahoe is further enhanced with a stronger frame and a wider rear track that contributes to a more planted stance. LTZ models include third-generation magnetic ride control, a real-time damping system that delivers more precise body motion control by “reading” the road every millisecond and changing damping in just five milliseconds.
Eighteen-inch standard wheels that are a half-inch wider, reducing tire flex for improved cornering performance. Twenty- and 22-inch wheels are available. New, electric variable-assist power steering system enhances fuel economy and tailors steering assist to vehicle speed. New four-wheel-disc brake system with Duralife™ brake rotors that offer up to double the service life, along with brake pedal revisions that improve pedal feel for stronger-feeling, more-confident braking performance.
The first-generation Tahoe (1995-1999) was a virtual knock-off of the then current C/K pickup, followed by its MY 2000 update. By the time of the 2007 redesign, the Tahoe and Suburban SUV’s begin to cosmetically separate themselves from the pickup trucks. For 2015, the separation is far more evident, where for the very first time no body components are shared. Opening those front doors reveals a redesigned interior. A tall center console borrows some of the Silverado’s switchgear and easy-to-read analog instruments, but the Tahoe earns its own design. A 4.2-inch digital display between the gauges can show speed, trip-computer, or infotainment data, and it can be used to adjust settings. A vinyl-wrapped instrument panel looks nice, but the imitation wood trim is a bit disappointing. If you desire real veneer, you’ll have to go up slightly market by choosing the GMC Denali.
The Tahoe’s wheelbase remains the same at 116-inch, so second-row legroom is unchanged from the previous generation. But by moving the B-pillars forward, the new Tahoe benefits from longer rear doors, which make ingress/egress to the rear seat(s) a lot easier. The third-row seating, not much has change from the previous generation Tahoe, where the floor is high to clear the live axle at the expense of legroom. Thus rear seat has a fixed seatback angle that will have larger adults squirming after some time.
Our LTZ example did come with a power auto-folding third row and flip-and-fold second-row captain’s chairs Better late than never, they say. While much of the Tahoe’s competition embraced fold-flat seats more than a decade, 2015 is the first time you don’t have to remove this big Chevy’s third row to maximize cargo room. This also eliminates one of the biggest thief issues, which were perpetrators breaking the back window glass to confiscate with the third row seat.
The power fold mechanism even works quickly. Fold away those rows and the Tahoe will take 95 cubic feet of your hoard. But getting all that stuff inside will require lifting it above a high (and newly flat) cargo floor, which accommodates the full-size spare tire carried underneath.
The base LS trim level comes with cloth interior, Bluetooth for phone and audio, automatic climate control, and rear parking sensors. The Tahoe LT trims receives forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning, Chevrolet MyLink infotainment, and Bose audio as standard equipment. The top-tier LTZ trims add rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot alerts, Magnetic Ride Control, and 20-inch wheels.
If eight-passenger seating is required, the LS is the vehicle of choice, since the LT since LTZ come exclusively with two captain’s chairs in the middle row. If you also miss the utilitarian nature of a front bench seat, the LS is your dream ride, since one can still be ordered.
A $3,255 Sun, Entertainment and Destinations package bundles navigation, a rear-seat entertainment system with Blu-ray, and a power sunroof on LT and LTZ models. A security package adds a vehicle tilt sensor – say in case someone tries to steal your wheels – plus an interior motion sensor, for a relative bargain of only $395. If you desire LTZ-like amenities without wishing to fork over the higher ticket price, that can be ordered on the LT thanks to a $2,705 Luxury Package.
The vehicle featured for this review was delivered in a Silver Ice Metallic with Cocoa / Mahogany, perforated leather-appointed seat trim. It included the Sun, Entertainment and Destinations package, producing a window sticker in the high $60,000. That’s a lot to bit off for a truck-based vehicle with a bowtie badge. In fact that puts it up in Corvette pricepoint territory
Despite their lofty price tags and the still unstable fuel prices, the market for full-size SUV remains in high demand, especially in the Lone Star State where these trucks are built. The only real domestic apples-to-apples competition comes from Ford, as the Expedition (Dodge never played this game with a Ram spin-off, though it does offer the competent Durango). Other less profile vehicles come as the Toyota Sequoia and Nissan Armada.
From K Blazer to LTZ; tracing the Tahoe’s 46 year ancestry
Back in 1969 General Motors created a new niche vehicle, it was soon copied by others, the K5-Series. It was one of the very first genuine SUV’s to compete directly with the trail-rated line of Jeep models, especially the soon to follow 1970’s Cherokee, which was based off the mighty Wagoneer. The K5 set the precedent by being a shorten wheelbase version of GM’s C/K pickup. Offered as both the Chevrolet Blazer and GMC Jimmy both came in either 2- or 4-wheel drive.
With the popularity of smaller truck-based vehicles during the height of the global fuel crisis the Blazer and Jimmy received junior versions in 1985, based on the previous year all-new S10 and S15 compact pickups. As years progressed this compact SUV would spawn a more family oriented 4-door version while its K5 big brother would remain a 2-door.
However that all changed for 1995 when the K5 became more mainstream, becoming a shorten alternative to GM’s iconic Suburban, which at the time came either as a Chevrolet and GMC. With that, the K5 Blazer and Jimmy received a name swap to Tahoe and Yukon respectively. MY 1997 was the last year for the 2-door body style, which has received cult status among its admirers.
So 20 years later we have the fourth generation of the Tahoe as we know and love it. Built in Arlington, Texas the Tahoe is assembled along with its platform mates, the GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade, along with their extended “Suburban” versions. This ginormus factory, built in the early 1950’s, and has defied the death nail multitude of times, and now remains the only plant that feeds the entire planet.