- Seating for up to nine passengers
- Standard V8 engine assures plenty of passing power and a substantial tow rating
- Nicely trimmed cabin is one of the best in the class
- Available two-speed transfer case gives the Tahoe better than average off-road capabilities
- Maneuvering in tight spaces is challenging
- Loading cargo is difficult due to high floor
- Less overall cargo capacity that many other full-size utility vehicles
- Engine doesn't respond to gas pedal inputs quickly enough
- Maximum passenger capacity is available only in the base model
The 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe is a throwback to the not-so-distant past when SUVs were based on trucks and the "utility" in SUV was paramount. So if you need a vehicle that can haul up to nine people and tow as much as 8,600 pounds, the Tahoe is the right kind of SUV. Most shoppers nowadays, however, are more concerned with comfort and everyday drivability, which are a couple of the Tahoe's weaknesses.
It comes as no surprise that the truck-based Tahoe drives much like a truck. Handling, comfort and maneuverability all take a hit from the emphasis on durability and utility. More modern crossover SUVs are based on passenger cars, which often makes them drive more comfortably and get better fuel economy.
Even among other body-on-frame, full-sized SUVs, the Tahoe falls short, achieving only middling scores overall. As a result, we encourage shoppers to check out the Tahoe's competition before fully committing. Rivals include the Toyota Sequoia and Ford Expedition, both of which offer similar levels of capability along with a few other unique features.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
For 2017, the top trim level is now called Premier instead of LTZ. New features include low-speed automatic braking paired with the existing forward collision warning system, a teen-driver management system and a reminder to check the backseats for child occupants. Cooled seats have now been replaced with ventilated seats, and the rear entertainment system input has been updated.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe is a full-size SUV with seating for eight passengers in most configurations. It is offered in LS, LT and Premier trim levels. An optional 40/20/40-split front bench seat increases passenger capacity to nine but is only available on the base LS trim.
Standard features for the LS include 18-inch alloy wheels, active grille shutters for improved aerodynamics, heated mirrors, automatic wipers, cruise control, remote keyless entry, remote ignition, rear parking sensors, a trailer hitch receiver with wiring harness, side assist steps and roof rails.
On the inside, you get tri-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable driver seat (six-way front passenger seat), 60/40-split folding second- and third-row bench seats, a tilt-only, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a teen-driver monitoring system, a convex mirror to monitor rear seat passengers, OnStar emergency telematics with navigation, a Wi-Fi hot spot, a household power outlet, the MyLink infotainment system, an 8-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, a six-speaker CD player with mobile apps, HD radio, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, five USB ports and auxiliary audio input.
The optional Enhanced Driver Alert package adds forward collision warning with low-speed automatic braking, a vibrating safety-alert driver seat, automatic high beams, lane keeping assist and power-adjustable pedals.
The LT trim includes all of the above, along with a power liftgate, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a 10-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, a telescoping steering wheel, driver-seat memory functions, an auto-dimming rearview camera, a universal garage door opener and a nine-speaker Bose audio system.
The optional Luxury package adds a hands-free tailgate opener, power-folding mirrors, an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, foglights, front parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, keyless entry and ignition, heated second-row seats, power-folding second- and third-row seats, a heated, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a wireless charging pad. The Texas Edition package is equipped identically but adds unique badging and crossbars to the roof rails.
The Premier trim includes the Luxury package and adds 20-inch wheels, xenon headlights, an adaptive Magnetic Ride Control suspension, ventilated front seats, second-row bucket seats (reducing seating capacity to seven), a navigation system with real-time traffic, 12-way power front seats and a 10-speaker Bose premium surround-sound upgrade.
The LT and Premier trims are eligible for the Sun, Entertainment and Destinations package that includes a sunroof, navigation for the LT trim, extended satellite radio and traffic service, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. Adaptive cruise control, power-retractable side steps and a head-up display are also available on the Premier trim.
Offered on all trims are 22-inch wheels as well as the Max Trailering package that includes a different rear axle ratio, an electronic two-speed transfer case (on 4WD models), a trailer brake controller and an auto-leveling suspension for non-magnetic suspension vehicles. The Z71 Off-Road package is available only on the LT trim and adds all-terrain tires, unique cosmetic elements, tubular side steps, underbody skid plates, an off-road suspension, an electronic two-speed transfer case, hill descent control, front parking sensors and rubber floor mats.
Many features offered on higher-trim models are available on supporting trims as options.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Inside the 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe, there's a wealth of space for passengers in the first two rows of seats, and materials quality is above average for the class. Despite its size, visibility is decent, and the standard rear parking sensors and rearview camera reduce the stress of maneuvering in tight spaces.
Taller drivers will easily fit, but the base LS trim's lack of a telescoping steering wheel might extend their reach more than they'd prefer. The second-row seats, whether a bench or the optional buckets, are just as roomy, but the folding mechanisms limit the range of adjustments. The third-row seats are flat with thin cushioning by comparison, and the high floor significantly reduces legroom.
Cargo capacity isn't great for a vehicle in this class — there's only 15.3 cubic feet available behind the third row, 51.6 cubic feet behind the second row and a maximum of 94.7 cubic feet with both rows folded flat. Not only is the space limited compared to the competition, but the load floor itself is inconveniently high in order to house the folding third-row bench seats. This makes loading bulky cargo more strenuous, especially for smaller people.
Standard safety equipment for all 2017 Chevy Tahoes include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control (with trailer sway control), front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. An airbag between the front bucket seats (when so equipped) offers additional protection in side-impact crashes. Also standard is a teen-driver management system, a reminder to check the backseats for child occupants, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera and the subscription-based OnStar system, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation.
Optional safety equipment includes front parking sensors, forward collision warning with low-speed automatic braking, lane departure warning and intervention, a safety-alert driver seat (which vibrates on either the right, left or both sides to warn drivers of danger), rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring.
In government crash tests, the Chevrolet Tahoe received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, five stars for front- and side-impact protection and three stars for rollover protection. In Edmunds brake testing, a four-wheel-drive Tahoe LTZ came to a stop from 60 mph in 126 feet, and a two-wheel-drive LT stopped in 121 feet. Both are short distances for this class.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Powering the 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe is a 5.3-liter V8 engine that produces 355 hp and 383 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only available transmission. Rear-wheel drive with a locking rear differential is standard, and four-wheel drive with a single-speed transfer case is available as an option. A two-speed transfer case comes with the Max Trailering and Z71 Off-Road packages.
Properly equipped, a rear-wheel-drive Tahoe can tow up to 8,600 pounds. Four-wheel-drive models top out at 8,400 pounds.
In Edmunds testing, a four-wheel-drive Tahoe in Premier trim accelerated to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, and a two-wheel-drive LT reached 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. These times are strong, but other SUVs in the class are even quicker. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 19 mpg combined (16 city/23 highway) for two-wheel-drive models and 18 mpg combined (16 city/22 highway) for four-wheel drive. These estimates are better than its primary competitors.
The 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe's 5.3-liter V8 is certainly capable when it comes to hauling a full load of people and cargo. It has the potential to deliver authoritative acceleration, too, but the delayed responses from the gas pedal often make the Tahoe feel slower than its horsepower suggests.
At a time when car-based crossovers have taken over the SUV market, the Tahoe clings to its truck-based underpinnings, which is good for those who intend to tow trailers and boats. But anyone using the Tahoe as a daily driver will face trade-offs in comfort and drivability. The suspension ably smooths over larger road imperfections and undulations, but shakes and shudders are noticeable over smaller ripples and bumps. The available adaptive Magnetic Ride Control suspension might improve things a bit, but only marginally. On the plus side, the cabin does remain pleasantly quiet on the highway.
The Tahoe's truck origins are even more apparent when it comes to handling and maneuverability. It's best to take it slow around turns because there's simply no way to mask the size and weight of this vehicle. It's not very maneuverable in tight spaces either, so multiple-point turns are common.
The 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe is a truck-based SUV that can hold up to nine passengers and tow your average boat with ease. As a daily driver, however, it lags behind more modern car-based utility vehicles when it comes to ride quality, interior space and efficiency.