Auto123 reviews the 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe.
The Tahoe/Yukon/Suburban family of big lugs and even the Cadillac Escalade are getting a makeover for model year 2021. That will make for a lot of refreshed pachyderms. All of those are still months away, however, so in the meantime we got our hands on a 2020 model to see if it's a good buy.
The first Tahoes that appeared starting in 1975 were based on a pickup chassis and the current generation dates to 2015; it hasn’t changed much.
Chevrolet offers the Tahoe in LS, LT and Premier versions. The first two start as a rear-wheel-drive model with an option to get 4-wheel drive, while the Premier is AWD from the get-go.
Power comes from a 355-hp 5.3L V8 and a 6-speed auto transmission. The Premier is available with an optional 420-horsepower 6.2L engine and 10-speed transmission. Our tester was a 2020 Tahoe Premier running on a 6.2L engine. Be warned that this model, with the options thrown in, sells for $89,118 with freight and preparation, but without taxes.
Standard or optional
At this price, you get 20-inch wheels, body-colour side mouldings, hands-free liftgate, HID headlights, 10-speaker audio system, navigation, front and rear parking aids, fog lights, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second row seats, passive remote keyless entry, blind spot monitoring with rear crosswalk alert, power folding seats in the second and third rows, power steering column adjustments and wireless smartphone charging.
Our tester featured 22-inch wheels for $4,100 and GM's $3,595 Sun, Entertainment and Guidance Package that includes a sunroof with rear Blu-Ray entertainment screen.
For $4,730 you get the RST Performance Package, which includes the 6.2L engine, a larger driver information display, brown leather upholstery, an upgraded towing package and an anti-collision system with auto brake. A total of $12,200 worth of options on our $74,898 Tahoe.
Big outside but not inside
Both the Tahoe and the Yukon, just like current-generation Escalade as a matter of fact, are outwardly imposing but relatively small in size inside. Blame it on the truck structure and the rigid rear axle that results in a high floor that severely limits cargo space and forces rear passengers to bend their knees. You only have 433 litres of trunk space, though that increases to 1,464 litres if you fold the third row seats down (which most owners do).
However, for towing, you'll be happy to know that you can pull over 3,600 kg.
The lack of interior space will be corrected with the new generation in 2021, as GM is introducing a flat floor with an independent suspension that will free up a lot of room in the third row as well as in the cargo area.
Comfort and ride
If you buy a Tahoe for the first two rows of seats, you'll be amply satisfied. They are spacious, comfortable and the leather in the Premier version is of high quality. The controls are easy to understand, same for the touchscreen.
Shorter people do have to literally climb aboard, and that's not always practical, especially in winter when the driveway is icy.
Once inside, however your driving position puts you in dominant position on the road, and the seats adjust to you. We would have liked larger outside mirrors given the exterior dimensions of the vehicle.
With 420 hp in its innards, the engine is spirited, but your bank account will have to be well stocked, as it was impossible for us to get under 15.5L/100 km on average, with 80% of our time spent on highways. That means it will cost you over $4,300 in fuel per year.
You have to hit the gas pedal hard to get an engine response, as this beast easily exceeds two metric tons, but once you do, the sound of the V8 doesn't lie. The steering would benefit from being more precise and the steering and braking response is slow with a spongy pedal, so you have to get a head start when you have to brake.
Winding roads at high speeds are ideal for making everyone else in the vehicle nauseous – up to you to decide if that’s a plus or a minus. The suspension is solid but also bouncy due to the rigid axle in the rear.
If you feel like going off-road, it’s worth considering the Z71 package, which includes a low-range transfer case, skid plates, off-road tires and hill descent control. The Performance package makes for a Tahoe more comfortable on the road than off it.
Despite its aging skeleton, Tahoe is fairly up-to-date technologically. With an easy-to-read and fast-reacting touchscreen as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, you feel a certain modernity at play that helps you forget a few flaws.
Also worth mentioning is the quiet ride and exemplary handling of the 10-speed transmission that makes a great team with the 6.2-litre engine. Like many GM products, you get a vibration in your butt if the drive-assist aids detect you’re leaving the proper line on the road.
If you’re in the market to buy or lease a Tahoe, our recommendation is to wait for the next model-year, which promises to be better, more spacious and more modern with a brand new chassis. On the other hand, you might just get a good price on a 2020 when the dealerships can finally open their doors again – in which case you'll have fun with this Tahoe. Just make sure you have the means to feed the beast.
High towing capacity
6.2-litre engine with 10-speed transmission (Premier edition)
Quiet and comfortable cabin
We like less
Floor too high in third row
High fuel consumption