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2011 Chevrolet Tahoe

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2011 Chevrolet Tahoe Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 3/4/2011


The 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe continues to be one of the best full-size SUV values on the market. Despite rising fuel costs and sometimes erratic sales, those who simply cannot do without the Tahoe's capability will find much to like, including a hybrid model with city/highway fuel economy ratings in the low to mid 20's. As the bestselling full-size SUV nearly 10 years running, the Tahoe has long had a lot going for it, including top rankings in the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Survey. Despite the slightly conservative exterior styling, the Tahoe is still handsome, and its ride quality and overall responsiveness have never been better.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you have a number of children, tow a boat or horse trailer and like the feel of a substantial V8-powered vehicle, the 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe could be just the ticket. Another plus: The Tahoe's powerful V8 engines offer Active Fuel Management technology and are E85-ready.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Our one quibble with the Tahoe is the necessity to remove and store the third-row seats to gain maximum cargo room. In fairness, the seats are easier to handle than in the past, and come in two- and three-passenger configurations.

What's New for 2011

Changes for 2011 include the addition of integrated trailer brake control to the Trailering package, some new colors and the availability of 20-inch chrome wheels on the LTZ trim. The LS trim gains as standard equipment Bluetooth, rear seat audio controls, premium cloth seats, luggage rack center rails and body color door handles and mirrors.

Driving It Driving Impressions

GM's latest full-size SUV platform gives the 2011 Tahoe a markedly impressive driving character. The fully-boxed frame (for more chassis stiffness), coil-over-shock front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering result in a surprisingly maneuverable and tractable vehicle. We were also struck by the Tahoe's quiet cabin and its inviting, upscale interior. The 5.3-liter V8 with Active Fuel Management puts its 320 horsepower right at your command thanks to a wide torque curve, and you never notice when the engine switches between eight- and four-cylinder operation. By using this technical wizardry, the two-wheel-drive version of the Tahoe achieves a 21-mpg EPA highway mileage rating, which is best in the class. We also give high marks to the standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control system because it is potentially life-saving technology that can significantly reduce single-vehicle accidents. Other important safety features include roof-mounted head-curtain side-impact airbags with rollover protection and front seat thorax side airbags.

Favorite Features

Smooth, Quiet Ride
With its boxed frame, high tech suspension and precise steering system – plus additional sound dampening – the Tahoe offers a luxury-car-like ride.

Active Fuel Management
Helping you have your cake and eat it too; the Active Fuel Management system, which cuts the operation of four cylinders when they are unneeded, enhances fuel economy.

Vehicle Details Interior   photo

The 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe has definitely moved up a notch or two when it comes to interior refinement and luxury, as befitting a vehicle that can cost $40,000 or more. Leading the list of features is the clever power-release fold-and-tumble second-row seat. This makes gaining access to the third row of seating as simple as pushing a button, as the seat immediately folds out of your way. Heated second-row seats are also available (why make the kids second-class citizens?), and other niceties include sonar-based rear parking assist, rearview camera parking assist and touchscreen-operated navigation system. The instrument panel with LED backlighting is fit for a luxury sedan.

Exterior   photo

The face of the Chevrolet Tahoe is its most distinctive exterior feature. The design features a twin-port horizontal grille with a bold Chevrolet "bow tie" in the center. The flared fenders, power bulge on the hood and large wheels and tires (up to 20 inches in diameter) speak to an understated but substantial presence on the road. The steeply-angled windshield, wraparound fascia and faired-in headlights help contribute to a best-in-segment 0.363 coefficient of drag, which translates into enhanced fuel economy. Even though the Tahoe is both long (202 inches) and wide (79 inches), it is still easy to handle and park.

Notable Standard Equipment

The 2011 Tahoe is available in four trim levels – LS, LT, LTZ and Hybrid. Even the LS model includes dual-zone manual air conditioning, anti-lock brakes (ABS), cruise control, front seat-mounted side and head-curtain airbags, six-way power driver's seat, StabiliTrak stability control system, OnStar, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, third-row seat and tire-pressure monitoring system. The LT group adds tri-zone automatic air conditioning, power-adjustable pedals, remote vehicle starter, leather seats, Bose nine-speaker audio system with six-disc CD changer and MP3 capability, ultrasonic rear parking assist, heavy-duty locking rear differential and universal garage door opener. Stepping up to the LTZ trim adds 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, heated and cooled 12-way memory front seats, 10-speaker Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound audio system, heated second-row seats with power release, locking rear differential, power liftgate, power folding mirrors and Autoride rear air-assisted load-leveling.

Notable Optional Equipment

The three trim levels should allow you to get the equipment level you need, but the 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe can also be "optioned up" in a wide variety of ways. Among key options are an engine-block heater, rear-seat entertainment center with DVD player, Z71 Off-Road Package, Bose premium nine-speaker sound system (LS), Side Blind Zone Alert System, 20-inch chrome wheels, rearview camera system and a navigation system and radio that includes CD, MP3 and XM NavTraffic compatibility. A choice of two- and four-wheel-drive models and a variety of axle ratios are also offered.

Under the Hood

Chevrolet has simplified the Tahoe's engine choices to just two: A 5.3-liter V8 with your choice of aluminum or cast iron block. Both engines feature variable valve timing and can run on E85 (a blend of gasoline and 15 percent ethanol). They offer significant power and torque (pulling force) with very little penalty in fuel economy. When running on E85, however, fuel economy drops measurably, although both horsepower and torque see a modest increase.

5.3-liter V8 FlexFuel, iron block
320 horsepower @ 5400 rpm
326 horsepower @ 5300 rpm (E85)
335 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
348 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm (E85)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 (2WD, gasoline), 11/16 (2WD, E85), 15/21 (4WD, gasoline), 11/16 (4WD, E85)

5.3-liter V8 FlexFuel, aluminum block
320 horsepower @ 5400 rpm
326 horsepower @ 5300 rpm (E85)
335 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
348 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm (E85)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 (2WD, gasoline), 11/16 (2WD, E85), 15/21 (4WD, gasoline), 11/16 (4WD, E85)

6.0-liter V8 Hybrid
332 horsepower @ 5100 rpm
367 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/23

Pricing Notes

The Chevrolet Tahoe LS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts just under $39,000, which includes a long list of standard equipment. The Hybrid Tahoe starts in the low-$50,000 range, with the top-of-the-line four-wheel-drive LTZ model starting slightly above that. We advise that you check the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com to see the typical price consumers in your area are paying now for their own 2011 Chevy Tahoe, to make sure you get the best deal. As the segment sales leader, the Tahoe offers good projected residual values, better than those of the new Dodge Durango, Ford Expedition and Nissan Armada, on par with the Toyota Sequoia.

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