2007 Chevrolet TahoePosted on December 20th, 2006
Newest full-sized sport-utility vehicle is a leaner, tighter package
By Nina Russin
Chevrolet’s newest full-sized sport-utility vehicle that goes on sale this spring is quieter, safer, and more powerful, with a towing capacity of over 7,000 pounds.
While the latest fuel crunch is bound to impact the full-sized truck market, the Chevrolet Tahoe remains a core vehicle for General Motors. General Motors owns the full-sized sport-utility segment, carrying 62 percent of the market. The automaker hopes that its 2007 models will excite current owners looking to trade up, and make some conquest sales as well.
Of all the full-sized sport-utilities that carry the GM moniker, the Chevrolet Tahoe is the biggest player. The current model accounts for 26 percent of all full-sized sport-utility registrations in the U.S. since 2001.
The 2007 models, that go on sale next spring, offer buyers an edgier, more stylish and fuel-economical package, with a wider track, better safety features, a more luxurious interior, and improved aerodynamics.
A feature that should appeal to ALV buyers is the new second-row, power fold-and-tumble seat. The idea is similar to the stow-and-go seats in the current Chrysler minivans, except that these seats fold away automatically, by depressing a button on the overhead console or on the rear door pillar. Third-row seats can also be removed using mechanical levers on the back of the seat.
Geared towards active families with big cargo
The Chevy Tahoe is geared towards buyers who regularly carry up to seven passengers, tow large trailers, and who may want true-off road capability. The 2007 models come in two- or four-wheel drive configurations with a choice of three V-8 engines, all mated to a four-speed automatic transmissions.
All trucks at the start of production come equipped with a 5.3-liter aluminum block engine rated at 320-horsepower. There is also a flex-fuel version of that engine that runs on E85: a mixture if ethanol and gasoline. Towing capacity for the four-wheel drive models is 7,700 pounds: enough to pull a very large boat or trailer.
A new displacement-on-demand technology improves fuel economy by automatically cutting power to half the cylinders when engine demands are low. Estimated fuel economy for the four-wheel drive Tahoe is just over 20 miles-per-gallon combined city and highway driving, for the four-wheel drive truck. While it’s no gas miser, that’s not a bad number for a truck weighing over 5,500 pounds.
A wider track for a more stable ride
The new Tahoe has a wider track and bigger wheels and tires than the outgoing models, for a tighter, more car-like ride. Engineers used more aluminum in the suspension to reduce the amount of unsprung weight, and more high-strength steel in the body structure to improve torsional rigidity for better steering feedback.
The new models come with standard seventeen-inch wheels and tires, and available 20-inch rims. An off-road package that will be introduced later next year comes with 18-inch wheels and all-terrain tires.
Drivers familiar with the current model will be happy to learn that the brakes have improved significantly. Gone is the mushy pedal feel. The new brakes are responsive without being grabby. Four-channel antilock braking is standard equipment on all models.
There are two upgrades to the standard suspension. Autoride, available at the start of production, is a real-time damping control system that responds automatically to road and driving conditions. It adjusts vehicle height at all corners to compensate for imbalances that occur when towing, hard cornering, and braking. It also adjusts the amount of suspension damping according to the road surface, and can raise or lower the vehicle using air bladders at each of the wheels.
A test drive on paved and dirt roads east of Phoenix was a good opportunity to test the technology. On the paved roads at highway speeds, the suspension was firm enough to corner reasonably hard and maintain good steering control.
On the other hand, the suspension was compliant on the dirt part of the Apache Trail, that runs past Roosevelt Dam on the east end and weaves through the Superstition Mountains . The antilock braking and stability control system did a good job of stopping the truck when necessary on the narrow dirt road, which often narrows down to a single lane.
The engine has plenty of torque to accelerate from a stop up to highway speeds, although our test did not include acceleration when towing a trailer. The steering feels tight and responsive, and despite its size, visibility is good all the way around the vehicle. A back-up warning system and rearview camera are available on the top two grades equipped with optional navigation systems.
Better fit and finish inside and out
Improving fit and finish throughout the truck was a primary goal of the engineering team. On the outside, the fascias wrap around the front and sides of the vehicle to eliminate gaps, and the doors srap over the rocker panels in similar fashion. The antenna has been relocated to the rear window and the fuel filler cap lip eliminated to improve the coefficient of drag. While the 2007 Tahoe is quieter than the current model, there is still some wind noise from the outside mirrors.
Inside, the headliner is made of a nicer fabric, and hardware for the seatbelts is well hidden in the seat upholstery. A huge storage cubby inside the center console will hold a medium size pack. The glove box has also been made larger.
Seats are nicely finished. A denser foam and improved seat design provide good lower back support. Adjustable pedals are available as an option. All models come with tri-zone temperature controls, allowing the driver, front and rear passengers to have up to thirty degrees of variation in their settings. The heated seat option now includes the first two rows of seats.
While the cargo area behind the third-row seats is larger than the current model, drivers who want to stow large items in back should either order the vehicle without the optional third row, or plan to remove it frequently. Overhead racks are optional on all models.
New side curtain airbags protect three rows of passengers
A new optional side curtain airbag system protects all three rows of passengers. The airbags deploy in the event of a side-impact collision, or when special sensors determine that a rollover is imminent.
A well-conceived product
While the Chevy Tahoe isn’t a truck for everyone, the 2007 model is a well-evolved vehicle, with some important improvements in handling, performance and ergonomics.
Base price: $33,900
Price as tested: N/A
Horsepower: 320 @ 5300 r.p.m.
Torque: 335 @ 4200 r.p.m.
0 to 60: N/A
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: No
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 15/21 m.p.g. city/highway
Comments: Side curtain airbags are standard on the LT-3 grade only.
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