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2012 Chevrolet Tahoe

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2012 Chevrolet Tahoe Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/14/2011


America's favorite full-size SUV, the 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe, continues to impress with its power, its capabilities and its reputation for reliability and owner satisfaction. Slightly shorter than the big Suburban, the 2012 Chevy Tahoe SUV can still seat up to nine passengers, although there is considerably less cargo space behind the Tahoe's third-row seat than the Suburban's. Delivering EPA highway fuel economy figures in the low 20-mpg range (something unheard of in a full-size SUV just 10 years ago), and offering the only full-size hybrid SUV in the segment, the 2012 Chevy Tahoe SUV is about as efficient as a 5,900-pound vehicle is going to get. And, with its only real competition being the Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia, Dodge Durango, and Nissan Armanda, the 2012 Tahoe shouldn't have too much trouble growing its fan base and holding onto its title.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you like the feel of a big, heavy vehicle and you have the need to transport hordes of kids plus the camper trailer to put them in, the 2012 Chevy Tahoe SUV makes a great choice. Not as long (or expensive) as a Suburban, the Tahoe's smaller size makes it a bit easier to park, and its E85-compatible V8 engine gives greater flexibility come fill-up time.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you don't have the need to tow more than 6,500 pounds, you can get 8-passenger seating and better fuel economy (and maneuverability) in the Chevy Traverse. Also, the Tahoe's rear-most seats must be removed and stored to form a level load floor, which may prove an inconvenience for many.

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV gains a new navigation radio as well as adds trailer sway control and hill start assist to its standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control. The LTZ trim gains a heated steering wheel, side blind zone alert and heated and cooling front seats, while the LT trim gains heated front seats.

Driving It Driving Impressions

Chevrolet has pushed the 2012 Tahoe SUV's full-size body-on-frame platform to limits of what such a design can do, and the results are quite impressive. The fully-boxed frame creates a more rigid chassis, which in turn helps improve handling and reduces interior rattles. The coil-over-shock front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering result in a surprisingly maneuverable and tractable vehicle. 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. With 320 horses on tap, the Tahoe's 5.3-liter V8 is more than capable of moving the fully-loaded vehicle without bogging down, and the Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation seamlessly switches among 4-, 6- or 8-cylinder operation as needed for improved fuel economy. So good is this technology that the 2WD Tahoe earns an estimated 21 mpg on the highway.

Favorite Features

Smooth, Quiet Ride
With its boxed frame, high-tech suspension and precise steering system - plus additional sound dampening - the 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe offers a luxury-car-like ride.

Active Fuel Management
Helping you have your cake and eat it too; the 2012 Chevy Tahoe SUV's Active Fuel Management system, which cuts the operation of four cylinders when they are unneeded, enhances fuel economy.

Vehicle Details Interior

The 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe may be GM's least-expensive SUV, but its interior sure didn't get the memo. While it's true there are more hard plastic surfaces than we'd care for, given the Tahoe's vast interior expanse it's kind of hard to avoid. We like the seat sew patterns, the soft leather seating option and the elegant dash with its blue-backlit controls and white-backlit instruments with glowing red indicator needles. Accessing the Tahoe's third-row seats is made simple, either via the pass-through walkway between the available captain's chair seats, or by activating the power release fold-and-tumble mechanism on the second-row seats. Heated second-row seats are also available, as well as driver aides, such as sonar-based rear parking assist, rearview camera parking assist and a touch-screen-operated navigation system.

Exterior

With its somewhat conservative but stylish slab sides, the brightest spot on the 2012 Chevy Tahoe SUV is its expressive twin-port split grille separated by a big gold Chevy "bow-tie" badge. The power-bulge hood and big wheel and tire combo (up to 20 inches in diameter) give the 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV a substantial road presence, an attitude that becomes particularly CIA-like when covered in gloss black paint. The Tahoe's flush headlamps, smooth wrap-around bumper and lower air dam, and steeply-raked windshield all contribute to its low 0.363 coefficient of drag, a number that lets this big rolling brick of a vehicle slip through the wind almost like a streamlined jet.

Notable Standard Equipment

The 2012 Chevy Tahoe SUV 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 and front-seat thorax side airbags, 6-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, heated front seats, power-adjustable pedals, remote vehicle starter, leather seats, Bose 9-speaker audio system with 6-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, a heated steering wheel, 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 four trim levels should allow you to get the equipment level you need, but the 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV 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 9-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 2- and 4-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 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. The 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid has a 6.0-liter V8 attached to a 2-mode electric motor/generator transmission.


5.3-liter V8 FlexFuel, iron block
320 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm
326 horsepower @ 5,300 rpm (E85)
335 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
348 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 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 @ 5,400 rpm
326 horsepower @ 5,300 rpm (E85)
335 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
348 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 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 @ 5,100 rpm
367 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/23

Pricing Notes

The 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe LS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $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 the 2012 Chevy Tahoe, to make sure you get the best deal. As the segment sales leader, the Tahoe offers good projected residual values, slightly better than those of the Dodge Durango, Ford Expedition and Nissan Armada, but below the values held by the Toyota Sequoia.

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