It’s why we love high heels.
They put us at eye level with the world and make us look great. And while a stunning pair of Saint Laurent’s are not as practical as an SUV, they help us to accomplish the same thing: conquering our world, one step at a time. So, we don’t mind the compromises we have to make in a full size SUV so we can haul a lot of cargo or people. But no more; SUVs now all come outfitted with luxury features, even if they can carry a hefty price tag. In testing out the 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD LTZ, priced at about $71,000, we found this full size SUV to be loaded with amenities, from heated and cooled seats to a dual rear entertainment system to WiFi hot spot and head-up display (HUD), with room to spare in a real third row.
Who this car is for:
- Families that need a third row
- Adventurers who require flexible space
- Drivers who like to feel powerful on the road
- Drivers of average or taller height;
- Short drivers who don’t mind having to climb into an SUV
- Boat or RV owners who need the towing capacity
- Owners who like luxury but not the luxury marque
- Buyers who are not focused on fuel efficiency; the Tahoe got about 18MPG during our test drive
- Buyers who will spend $70,000 to get what they want
Other SUVs you might consider:
- Ford Explorer
- Cadillac Escalade
- GMC Yukon
- Infinity QX80
- Volvo XC90
- Toyota Land Cruiser
- Dodge Durango
- Nissan Armada
- Lexus LX 570
Large but agile, on the road and in parking lots
When I first started driving large SUVs, I was somewhat intimidated by parking lots and narrow lanes on highways. But unless you are driving through medieval European cities, most roads can handle the Tahoe. I drove on the Bronx River Parkway in Westchester, New York and the Jackie Robinson Parkway, in Brooklyn, both winding roads with narrow lanes, but I never felt too close to the other cars. If I started to cross the dotted line and drift into the other lane, the lane departure warning kicked in: the seat vibrated madly to let me know.
Push button seats mean flexibility and access
The third row, which has a 60/40 split, has a power fold button that is easy to use and spot on; the engineer who dreamed this up must have been struggling to fold a seat while containing a squirming toddler and had this “Aha” moment. You can fold with seats with one finger. Not only that, you can pop them back UP with one finger. And the second row bucket seats have a power release as well.
There’s also a handsfree power lift gate that you can open or close by pushing a button on the gate or on the key fob.
Those same engineers must have also realized that for shorter drivers who like larger cars –or drivers who need to open the lift gate inside a garage– lift gates that open to their full potential can also be troublesome. So, they added a lift gate height adjustment so you can set the height that it opens to, making it easy to close even if you’re 5’1″.
Lots of space = happy passengers
Ample room in the Tahoe means everyone has their own space: center row captains chairs in the center row give breathing room and comfortable seats; a third (or fourth) rear passenger can climb into the third row. The captains chairs are an option; a center row bench, which seats 3, is standard, bringing total seating to 7 passengers.
The Tahoe’s height means there is plenty of head room, though the floor in the third row is a little high (due to suspension and mechanics for the four wheel drive, which is housed underneath). This means tall passengers in the third row may spend the ride looking at their knees.
All rear seat passengers, though, will be entertained by the optional rear seat entertainment Blu-ray system, which comes with wireless headphones an a remote control. The system can be set to play a DVD’s sound through the car’s speakers, or you can set it to use the headphones, freeing the sound system for SiriusXM or your favorite Spotify playlist.
Safety technology keeps every passenger safe
One of the advantages of a full size SUV is that you can see–above the traffic with clear views all around. But the height also creates blind spots beside and behind the car, and things immediately around you such as the lines on the road, can sometimes be hard to see. The 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe we tested had a full suite of safety features that eliminated these safety gaps. Lane departure warning, which has a setting that vibrates the driver’s seat seat if you drift out of your lane, blind-spot monitors on the rear and side-view mirrors, a collision alert that flashes if the car senses objects ahead may pose an eminent danger, and front and rear parking sensors, great for getting in and out of tight parking spots. All this sensors made the full size Tahoe easy to drive.
Caution for less mobile passengers
My nimble family was able to easily climb in and out of the Tahoe using the running boards, but my mother felt very uncomfortable getting in and out of the SUV. True, she’s 85, but caring for aging parents means thinking about their comfort and accessibility, too. The Tahoe was too daunting for my cousin, who uses a walker; she was unwilling to even attempt getting it.
The latest technology entertains, informs and connects
All Chevrolet vehicles have OnStar with four years of basic service included in the purchase price (you can buy upgraded services such as road side assistance, remote start and more), which is a snap to use for directions and peace of mind for emergencies. The Tahoe also has a Qi wireless charging pad (some phones are enabled by their manufacturer, others require a charging case), Apple CarPlay and MyLink 8-inch color touchscreen. There are also rain sensing wipers (set it and forget it!), and remote keyless entry.
Not enough luxury? OK, here’s a little more
Sure, you might expect heated and cooled seats, premium leather, a kick-ass Bose surround sound audio system and a WiFi hotspot (which does require a data contract). But we found a few unexpected extras, too: the head-up display projects important information onto the windshield in front of the driver (no one else can see this); there is a bug screen on the power sunroof to keep debris out of the car, and there are premium details such as stitched leather panels on the doors and dash, chrome accents and those running boards (not all full size trucks and SUVs have them).
Spending a week in the Chevrolet Tahoe was like spending a week in Saint Laurent pumps: I felt powerful on the road, pampered in the car and it felt great to know that I can master challenging roads and parking spots like a pro.
What we loved
- WiFi hotspot with 4G LTE
- Apple CarPlay
- Heated and cooled seats in the front row
- Heated seats in the second row
- Heated steering wheel
- Seats seven comfortably
- Power fold third row
- Power sunroof with bug screen
- 110 volt AC plug (i.e., standard household plug)
What you need to know
- Base price: $64,740; price for the model we drove, with power sunroof and rear entertainment, $71,565
- Fuel economy: 16 miles per gallon in the city, 22 on the highway; 18 combined
- Uses regular gas
- 5 year / 60,000 mile powertrain warranty
Note: General Motors provided the 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe for the purposes of this review; opinions expressed are my own.