The wraps have now come off of the all-new 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe and its longer-wheelbase Chevy Suburban sibling and while a few blanks have yet to be filled in, the first take on these versatile full-size haulers is extremely positive. Intent on maintaining their dominant position in the full-size sport utility vehicle realm, Chevy's design team spared no effort in executing a comprehensive generational makeover that results in a pair of SUVs that are sleeker, quieter, more comfortable and more efficient than the vehicles they replace and also offer enhanced levels of technology, convenience and safety.
Although retaining plenty of Chevy signature styling cues, the Tahoe and Suburban move into their 2015 incarnations boasting a significantly more streamlined visual presence that also helps increase efficiency while decreasing interior noise levels. Beyond all-new sheetmetal and lighting elements - none common with the new-gen 2014 Silverado pickup - the Tahoe and Suburban benefit from a number of aero-oriented enhancements culled from the now-departed Tahoe Hybrid and also feature inlaid doors in place of the previous over-the-top units as well as tighter overall panel-gap tolerances. Like the hood, the 2-piece rear liftgate on both of these SUVs is made of lightweight aluminum. In addition to available power activation, the generously scaled hatch also features an integrated spoiler that now neatly conceals the rear wiper.
While their cosmetics are unique, the 2015 Tahoe and Suburban do share all of their basic platform architecture with the 2014 Silverado. That includes a greater percentage of high-strength steel, a stouter frame with fully boxed rails, redesigned front/rear suspension components, new electric variable-assist power steering, a wider rear track dimension and a new 4-wheel disc brake system with better feel and longer-lasting rotors. Standard wheels are 18-inch, but 20-inch and 22-inch upgrades will be available. Top-line LTZ models also will come with GM's Magnetic Ride Control damping system.
Sole engine in both the rear-drive and 4-wheel drive LS, LT and LTZ models will be GM's new 5.3-liter EcoTec3 direct-injected V8 that features variable valve timing and cylinder-deactivating Active Fuel Management. It will crank out 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of peak torque - both stouter stats than the current 5.3-liter - and deliver better EPA numbers (no word on those yet, but the engine is rated at 16/23 mpg in the rear-drive Silverado pickup and 16/22 mpg in the 4WD model). Motive force will be shipped to the wheel via a 6-speed Hydra-Matic transmission that features TapShift control, Tow/Haul mode and Auto Grade Braking. Towing capacity remains largely unchanged, with the RWD/4WD Tahoe now rated at 8,500/8,300 pounds and its Suburban counterpart boasting 8,300/8,000-pound comparative numbers. For the record, those stats reflect a 100-pound gain for the 4WD Tahoe and a 200-pound increase for the rear-drive Suburban.
As might be expected, the fully redesigned cabin of the new Tahoe and Suburban also shares much of its basic appearance and improved functionality with the Silverado. That includes an all-new dash with analog instrument cluster, keyless entry/pushbutton starting, a large covered center console that can hold a laptop computer and an available 8-inch color touchscreen radio with MyLink connectivity to oversee various standard and available infotainment elements. Each of these SUVs also comes with OnStar and offers multiple USB ports and power outlets along with a new rear-seat entertainment system (dual-screen in the Suburban) and a Blu-ray DVD player.
While total cargo volume has been reduced modestly in both the Tahoe and Suburban, passenger accommodations have been significantly enhanced regardless of the seating configuration selected. New front buckets offer greater comfort, second-row occupants enjoy nearly two more inches of legroom and entering/exiting the aft quarters is now an easier task. However, most current Tahoe/Suburban owners are likely to find the single biggest improvement on the 2015 models is the presence of fold-flat second- and third-row seats. That change means it's no longer necessary to physically remove those pesky third-row perches when hauling stuff takes precedence over transporting people. And the task can be further simplified thanks to an available power-fold option and a new cargo-management system.
An integral part of the Tahoe/Suburban remake was the fitment of a host of new active and passive safety/security systems. Topping the list of standard/available features are forward collision alert, front park assist, lane departure warning, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert and full speed range adaptive cruise control as well as Chevrolet's Safety Alert Seat and the segment's only front-seat center airbag on models equipped with bucket seats.
The 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe and Chevrolet Suburban will arrive in showrooms during the first quarter of 2014. Pricing and EPA numbers will be released closer to their official on-sale date.
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