By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 9.4
While the 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe may remain king of the full-size SUVs, its Chevrolet badge no longer means it’s guaranteed to be the most affordable choice. Fresh from a complete overhaul last year, Chevrolet’s mammoth family hauler is the best it’s ever been, with an impressive array of safety, luxury and technology features that makes it feel more Caddy than Chevy. However, if you don’t need the towing power of the Tahoe, most families can get by in a less expensive and more efficient 7-passenger crossover SUV like the Chevrolet Traverse. For those who do need a full-size V8-powered SUV, a base-model Nissan Armada offers similar power and towing for about $9,000 less.
If you’re looking for a powerful and safe full-size SUV, the 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe is about as good as it gets. Loaded with advanced safety and technology features, the Tahoe is as skilled at protecting its occupants as it is towing, hauling and venturing off-road.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV’s Enhanced Driver Alert package for the LS trim adds new safety features, including power-adjustable pedals, forward-collision alert, lane-keep assist, safety-alert seat and IntelliBeam auto high-beam headlights. LTZ trims offer a new head-up system and an 8-inch configurable color display.
GM has pulled out all the stops with the 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe, pushing the limits of what is possible with this type of architecture while enhancing fuel efficiency, occupant safety...
... and all-weather capability. Instrumental to the Tahoe’s driving dynamics is the available Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) that continually adjusts the stiffness of the shocks based upon changing road conditions. Despite a somewhat antiquated solid rear axle, body lean and roll are kept in check, while the ride remains smooth even over harsh and rutted surfaces. The Tahoe’s steering is responsive but still nicely weighted for easy use at low speeds, and its potent 355-horsepower V8 is always up to whatever task is asked of it. However, even the best technology can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, which is why we were not surprised that our fuel economy never broke the high-teens, even with the cylinder deactivation in play.
In LTZ trim, the 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe has one of the nicest interior treatments money can buy. We’re not joking when we say it compares to Cadillac, Lexus and even Land Rover.
FOLD FLAT THIRD ROW
The Tahoe finally has a set of 3rd-row seats that fold flat rather than having to be physically removed. However, unlike the Ford Expedition, the seats do not fold flush into the floor but instead fold flat into a compartment that slightly elevates the cargo floor’s lift height.
The 2016 Chevy Tahoe's driver's seat features multiple adjustments, so it's easy to get comfortable. The materials feel upscale, and we liked the easy-to-understand control layout. Adults will wish the 2nd-row captain's chairs adjusted forward and back, not just for seatback angle, but that's better than the tiny third row – its poor foot room and legroom make it for kids only. There's not much space behind the third row for cargo, but the new raised floor – there to help make a flat cargo floor when the third row is folded – features a handy storage area beneath it.
With the 2016 Tahoe full-size sport-utility vehicle, Chevrolet continues to put daylight between its pickup trucks and the SUVs based on them. The new Tahoe shares no exterior panels with the truck it's based on, giving designers unprecedented freedom. The silhouette is familiar, but the sharp-edged styling, sculpted flanks, and cool LED-accented headlights strike a bold look for this big brute. Parked side by side, the Tahoe looks wider than its GMC Yukon cousin – credit the wide grille, which blends into the headlights. We also liked the optional power running boards.
Every 2016 Chevy Tahoe comes with the 5.3-liter V8 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. Base LS trims get cloth seats, Bluetooth for phone and audio, automatic climate control and rear parking sensors. Mid-range Tahoe LT trims get forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning, Chevrolet MyLink infotainment, and Bose audio as standard equipment. The top-line LTZ trims add rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot alerts, Magnetic Ride Control and 20-inch wheels. Note that if you want to seat eight passengers, you can't go higher than the LT since LTZ trims come only with two captain's chairs in the middle row.
If you miss the old-time feel of a front bench, the 2016 Tahoe LS is your dream vehicle, since you can still order one. The LTZ's luxury touches – most of them anyhow – can be had on the LT thanks to the $3,110 Luxury Package. The $2,755 Sun, Entertainment and Destinations package bundles navigation, a rear-seat entertainment system with Blu-ray, and a power sunroof on LT and LTZ trims. The theft-protection package adds a vehicle tilt sensor – in case someone tries to steal your wheels – and an interior motion sensor, a relative bargain at only $410.
The 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV comes with one engine: a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8. That sounds familiar to Tahoe fans, but this engine is significantly different from its predecessor. It features direct injection, which helps improve fuel economy while also increasing power and torque, a nice trick. It also features GM's Active Cylinder Management, which imperceptibly shuts off half of the cylinders under steady cruise to help preserve fuel. The engine comes connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission. And of course, you can get 4-wheel drive (4WD) with a proper off-road-ready low range.
355 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
383 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg (2WD), 15/22 mpg (4WD)
The 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe LS 2-wheel drive (2WD) carries a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at about $48,000, while the mid-range LT pushes the price just over the $53,000 mark. If you want as much chrome and leather possible on your Tahoe, the LTZ trim starts close to $63,000. Add $3,000 if you want 4WD on your Tahoe. That's significantly more expensive than a Nissan Armada, and even more than the Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia. However, keep in mind that the Tahoe is a big step up in equipment and refinement. Historically, the Tahoe's resale value is slightly better than its Ford and Nissan rivals, but still trails the Toyota Sequoia. The Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price tells you what other buyers in your area are paying for their 2016 Tahoe, so check it out before you make your purchase.