2007 Chevrolet Tahoe Review / Road Test

Chevy Tahoe's imposing wraparound grille

High-riding a  2007 Chevy Tahoe into the rough stuff of the Arizona desert is something that everybody should do at least once in their lifetime.

Failing that, a trip to your local dealership to test-drive the next generation of the industry's best-selling full-size SUV should suffice - for as you'll find out the Tahoe is uncompromisingly good on every surface, from desert dust trails to LA's freeways.     

And this massively improved vehicle is so good in so many ways that at times you could be forgiven for thinking you'd been driving an SUV upwards of twice the asking price.  There's still no final word  on what that price will be - understandable given that the full-size SUV sector is perhaps the most competitive of them all, and vital for GM's bottom line.

But after a 20-mile white-knuckle thrash around a rocky horse-shoe-shaped trail surrounded by dams and cactus and some serious off-roading territory, it was clear that GM has produced a formidable challenger in its class, in  quality and almost inevitably in the number of units that roll off its Arlington assembly plant in Texas.

Soon to hit the desert

Built on GM's new GMT-900  platform - the most significant improvement from the previous models  - the Tahoe's chassis is stronger and therefore stiffer, with wider front and rear tracks providing outstanding road-holding for a vehicle of this size on both rough and smooth. In fact, the handling and feel was so good that I wondered whether I'd stepped into an Escalade by mistake.

Same goes for the plush new all-leather interior-designed cabin, which was superbly comfortable and quiet, but more about that later.

The Tahoe's powertrain - GM's fourth-generation small-block V8, 5.3-liter Vortec - cranks out more than 320 brake-horsepower and 335lb-ft of torque, while its advanced Displacement on Demand technology - which allows the car to optimize use of its cylinders -  keeps fuel efficiency to a class-leading 20.5mpg, combined.  Hybridized Tahoes  will become available by year's end.

A reworking of the Tahoe's aerodynamics - including a steeper windshield and smoother roofline - also contributed to fuel economy, and cabin-quietness, for which GM tightened fascia gaps and strengthened sealing, and added an acoustically-tuned engine cover.

Chevy in the mountains near Scottsdale, Az

Three trim levels - the LS, LT and LTZ - offer both two and four-wheel drive, with GM's heralded Autoride suspension system standard on the LTZ, several of which shelacked their way through the deeper stuff on desert trails, and gave a refined ride on the 100-mile or so round trip from Scottsdale.

Outside, larger wheels - in 17 and 20-inch variants - and a its wider track offer a more imposing  facade, with wraparound headlights behind Chevy's gold bow-tie mounted on a twin-port horizontal grille, under which sits the licence plate, a perhaps the most noticeable difference from previous Tahoes.

Getting dirty and dusty

Tahoe's fold and-tumble seats

All-important safety features include ultrasonic rear-parking assist, roof-mounted head curtain side airbags with rollover protection for all seats, front safety belt pre-tensioners, and front airbags with passenger-sensing system.

Inside, GM's hiring of a cabin-design specialist, who talked us through the trim improvement, will impact any prospective buyer as soon as they climb into the cabin.  Double-seemed leather seats are surrounded by lots of wood trim alongside brushed aluminum and chrome accents.  Dual-cabin heat and AC, and a 8-inch screen DVD player, will keep kids large and small quiet in the back.

Happy trails, as they say.  What are you waiting for?

Chevy's new streamlined shape

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