Being a ski family means that we spend a good amount of time on the road in the winter. Each season, we make several pilgrimages north from our home just outside of New York City to the snow-covered hills of Vermont. Depending upon our destination, the trip to the mountain can take anywhere from three to seven or even eight hours. With three kids, sometimes a dog, and a serious amount of groceries, luggage, and ski gear, we need a vehicle with room to spare. At the same time, with winter travel comes winter driving conditions and that means a car that handles well on potentially slippery roadways is a must.
Presently, I drive a 2006 Honda Odyssey and my husband drives a 2001 Subaru Outback. My van, while super comfortable on long road trips, doesn’t do well in the snow. Because of that, we’ve come to rely on my husband’s all-wheel drive wagon to get us to and from the mountains. We’re safe and sound, but no one is comfortable, especially the three kids crammed in the backseat together. Needless to say, we’re in the market for something new given the age and limitations of our current vehicles. One of the cars on our list is the Chevy Tahoe and a recent trip up to Vermont’s Jay Peak, way north on the Canadian border, was the perfect time to give it a try.
Plenty of Space for People, Gear, and Even Lasagna!
A ski trip requires a lot of stuff, and our family has plenty of it. There are suitcases for each of us, skis, ski boots, helmets, a big bag with the snow pants, and another with all our goggles, mittens, and balaclavas. We were staying in a condo with a full kitchen, so I also had three bags of groceries—plus a lasagna!
The Tahoe offers three rows of seating, with comfortable captain’s chairs in the front and middle rows and a 60/40 bench in the back. The first two rows feature a ton of legroom—a whopping 45-inches in the front and 39-inches in the middle—making the third row best for younger kids, especially given the fact that the second row captain’s chairs are fixed, making it impossible to slide them forward.
In order to fit all our gear, we needed to collapse two of the back row seats—a breeze to do with the Tahoe’s power release—leaving the single seat available for our nine-year-old daughter who spent the trip happily ensconced in her own little area. If we purchased the Tahoe, we’d make sure it was equipped with a roof rack so that we could use our roof box for additional cargo—whether it’s a trip to the mountains or to the beach. Our family rarely travels light and it would be nice to have the additional interior space to spread out. Still, even though we packed the Tahoe to the gills, we were all very comfortable.
I like to go old-school on road-trips, opting for games like the alphabet hunt, car bingo, or “I’m going on a ski trip and I brought..,” instead of relying on our electronic devices for entertainment. But in the Tahoe my kids were in tech-heaven and I have to admit that even I enjoyed being part of the 21st century for the weekend.
The 2016 model we drove had it all—from Sirius XM radio, to multiple USB ports, 110-volt and 12-volt outlets, a rear-seat BlueRay/DVD player, and dynamic sound courtesy of a Bose ten speaker counterpoint system. Coming from driving a vehicle that doesn’t even have Bluetooth technology or an auxiliary jack, the Tahoe’s advances blew us away.
But the best part was Tahoe’s 4G LTE built-in Wi-Fi hotspot provided by On-Star. The kids didn’t have to limit their data use, enjoying their music apps during the long drive. I loved being able to work on my laptop while having access to the internet without having to pull data from my phone’s personal hotspot to do so.
To control all this fabulous tech, the Tahoe features Chevrolet’s MyLink 8-inch color touch screen display on the dashboard, making it a breeze to manipulate everything from the radio and video systems, to smartphone use via Bluetooth and On-Star’s split-screen navigation system. The display also provides the driver with the view from the vehicle’s rear-vision camera.
Finally, the Tahoe is also equipped with a customizable driver information center right in front of the steering wheel. Arrows on the steering wheel allow you to cycle through the available digital displays including speedometer, trip calculators, navigation system, radio/media options, connected smartphone, and more. It also warns you of possible inclement driving conditions. It’s pretty amazing.
A Safe, Comfortable Ride
The 2016 Chevy Tahoe is really the ultimate in creature comforts and we got spoiled very quickly! I once told my husband that I wanted a car with a heated steering wheel. His reply? “That’s called gloves.” But with the Tahoe, starting the car on a cold winter morning meant toasty mitten-free hands! Heated seats in the front and second rows are another cold-weather perk, and the front row seats are also cooled—a treat during the summer months for sure. And with individual climate control, everyone was comfortable.
Given that we were headed to the mountains, it was a pleasure to know that it would be smooth sailing regardless of weather in the Tahoe. With four-wheel anti-lock brakes and a the ability to slip into four-wheel drive, navigating snowy roads would be no problem.
My husband couldn’t get over the Tahoe’s smooth, quiet the ride—for a large crossover, the Tahoe has great pickup and handles like a dream. I did feel like it was a bit big for me driving around our small town, given the narrow streets and street parking down in the village.
As a parent, safety is obviously a big concern and the Tahoe scored big marks for us in that department. With seat-mounted sensors vibrate if you drift out of your lane, blind-spot monitors on rear and side-view mirrors, collision alerts, and front and rear parking sensors, Chevy’s got you covered.
And I would be remiss not to mention how user-friendly the Tahoe is, offering power everything—from windows and sunroof, to tailgate, seat configurations, and remote keyless entry and ignition. There are also several smaller cargo bins located throughout the vehicle making it easy to stash items like your purse, a laptop, books and games for the kids, or that all-important cup of joe.
- What We Loved
• Very spacious and extremely comfortable for everyone
• Fabulous technology including charging ports, incredible sound, and hands-free phone capability
• On-Star option offering 4G LTE wireless connectivity, emergency support, and GPS navigation
• Smooth, quiet ride and excellent handling—even in adverse weather conditions
• Keyless entry and start is a great perk and remote start is fantastic, especially knowing you can warm up the vehicle during the depths of winter
What You Need to Know
- When the third row is in use, the Tahoe’s cargo space is dramatically reduced. Without a roof box, this car is best for families who won’t need the third row plus a lot of cargo room.
- The Tahoe isn’t small. While it handles beautifully, especially on the highway, I found it a bit large for around-town driving and street parking in my small village.
- Base price: $64,610; price for one I drove with entertainment option and power sunroof: $70,435