No company did more to popularize the full-size sport utility vehicle than General Motors. From Chevrolet’s Tahoe, Suburban, and Avalanche, to a family of GMC Yukons and Cadillac Escalades, big utilities are now a part of the American lifestyle. Yet today that lifestyle is under pressure from volatile gas prices. Now GM is pushing back with an all-new generation of big-utes, generically known as the GMT900. This 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe is the first one to the market, and it just might save the species, and the company.
The survival of any species depends on evolving and adapting to an ever changing environment. No where in the auto world is that more true than with full-size SUVs. With fluctuating gas prices, plus a general lessening of public desire for big utilities, the total redesign of the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe could not have come at a better time.
The Tahoe’s transformation starts with an all-new body on frame architecture, which stretches over the same 116-inch wheelbase, but with 5 inches added to overall length.
The fully boxed frame is torsionally 49% stiffer, with added cornering stability from 3-inch wider front and 1-inch wider rear tracks
Though recognizably Tahoe, the ‘07 wears vastly improved aerodynamics, style, and fit and finish, with a power dome hood and seamless wrap-around front fascia with jewel-like headlamp clusters.
Around back, a less chiseled look is completed by elegant taillights and a large liftgate with separate opening glass, and for the first time, power assist.
For overall power, the Tahoe relies on a thoroughly revised 5.3-liter Vortec V8 with best-in-class 320 horsepower, and 340 pound feet of torque.
The only transmission is a 4-speed automatic. Traction control is standard and the available on-demand four-wheel drive system has a rugged two-speed transfer case.
But it’s the 5.3 V8’s Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation that is the drivetrain eye-opener. By shutting down 4 of 8 cylinders at cruise, AFM provides the new Tahoe with class-best EPA fuel economy ratings of 16 City/22 Highway for the 4x2 and 15 City/21 Highway for the 4x4. That’s better than many mid-size V6 SUVs. As was our 4x4’s mixed test loop result of 17 miles per gallon. The 5.3 4x4 can also be fueled with E85, and in the fall of 2007 a full-hybrid Tahoe arrives with promised highway economy in the mid-20s. Later in this model year a 290-horsepower 4.8-liter V8 will become the base 4x2 engine.
Inside, the Tahoe is clearly larger, and also a revelation. Far more upscale, with two and three row models offering up to 8-passenger capacity. An almost elegant new dash with flush mounted controls, nearly invisible seams, quality plastics, and brushed metal or realistic faux woodgrain really brings this cabin to life.
To protect family lives, all-row head curtain airbags with rollover protection are either available or standard on all Tahoe trims.
Seats are wider, with high-grade cloth or optional leather. And you can add heat for both the first and second rows, another class first.
There is a novel power-release fold-and-tumble second row seat available. And while the child-size third row seats don’t fold into the floor, they are much easier to remove than before. Chevy chose removable seats over disappearing ones to maintain a tall cargo bay. It is, and 109 cubic feet big as well.
During a wickedly cold December we put our 5.3 4x4 to the test and it laid the power down quite well; 0 to 60 in a most respectable 8.5 seconds. The 5.3 also makes possible a maximum 1,867-pound payload, and 7,700-pound tow ratings.
Out on the highway with the 5.3, cruising is amazingly quiet. Complementing the new frame is a new coil-over shock front suspension and heavily revised five-link, coil spring solid axle rear.
Steering feel is impressive with first-time rack-and-pinion steering. The tight spot maneuverability of this still large SUV is simply amazingly. As is the solid high speed handling. StabiliTrak electronic stability control is standard with rollover sensor. It’s paired with the all-new Bosch 4-channel ABS system. With all-vented discs and stiffer dual-piston calipers, the Tahoe also stops like a much smaller utility.
All this plus lower prices. Base sticker for the Tahoe 4x2 is $33,990. That’s about a $2,000 reduction. While the 4x4 begins at an also trimmer $37,790.
The 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe is more than just an evolution of a familiar full-size sport-ute; it is a whole new strain of the species, one designed to thrive in an SUV market where only the strong survive.
Engine: 5.3-Liter Vortec V8
Torque: 340 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 8.5 Seconds
EPA: 15 MPG City/21 MPG Highway
Mixed Loop: 17 MPG