2016 Chevy Tahoe: Changed and, blessedly, not (CNET On Cars, Episode 96)
[SOUND] New Chevy Tahoe, how it's changed and how it hasn't.
The lowly rear view mirror, now a focus of tech innovation.
And what to do if airbags have basically sidelined your car.
It's time to check the tech.
[SOUND] We see cars differently.
We love on the road, and under the hood, but also check the tech.
Are known for telling it like it is.
Ugly is included at no extra cost.
The good, the bad, the bottom line, this is CNET on Cars.
Welcome to CNET on Cars, the show all about
About high tech cars in modern driving.
I'm Brian Cooley.
While a lot of folks love the Chevy Tahoe, because it's the Chevy Taho, others think of it like it's an acronym.
Too truck like, too big, too non urban.
Let's see what they've done with the admittedly freshened 216 Chevy Taho with a nice new injection of cabin electronics.
And check all the tech.
Now, Tahoe's competitors are Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada, and Toyota Sequoia, all the vehicles that have something big as their name.
But perhaps the most interesting comparison question is actually Tahoe to Suburban, its longer but very similar looking brother.
They are like peas in a pod but let's lay out the numbers, they're pretty stark.
Tahoe is 20" shorter overall, that's huge.
14" shorter wheelbase, that's from front to rear axle.
10" less 3rd row leg room, that makes a world of difference.
And when you fold down the 3rd row, compared to Suburban, this guy has 25 cubic feet less rear cargo space.
On the other hand, this guy weighs A few hundred pounds less than a Suburban.
About 200 plus and picks up more than that in towing capacity, 300 to 400 pounds more than the bigger Suburban.
Because this vehicle isn't saddled with so much of it's own weight and can devote that to towing capacity.
Outback you've got a lift gate and separate lift glass.
A lot of folks like that.
When you lower the seat the load floor is flat but it is high.
Now the first thing you notice when you get into the new Tahoe of this generation, any Chevy, is there's a lot of garish in that instrument panel and you're not gonna think you're in a BMW.
Now when you head over here to the Chevy MyLink system The interface looks very similar like you've seen before.
The response is really good.
I mean, this thing moves fast now.
We've got Android, auto and Apple carplayer.
I'm showing you Android Auto right now.
That's what music looks like, your calling interface, your turn by turn navigation, all very clean and consistent.
If the supported phone is not connected, when the cryptic projection icon, that's new but all that means is AA or CP can be there instead.
It does not, you techies who want this, mean it has mirror lengths.
Now, notice what's missing here.
Stare at it for a second.
There's no traditional navigation.
There is OnStar navigation.
That's when it's downloaded to you from the OnStar service center.
No, thank you.
The only navigation in this particular Tahoe is coming through my phone when I am connected to Android Auto.
That's a very progressive approach for a vehicle like this that has a lot of technology but says hey sometime I understand.
You want your nav to come from your phone.
I don't need to duplicate that.
Now onto the on start menu, you've got the WiFi settings, and that gets you to the 4G powered WiFi hotspot in the vehicle.
Now whatever device you're using, 4G or WiFi, you're still going to have to charge it once in a while, and that's where this comes in handy.
Very slick integrated charging pad, part of an option package, by the way, and it's compatible with both the PMA, or or power mat standard, as well as the Chi charging standard.
Now, I can't test it, cuz I have neither on my phone, probably like you.
But even if I did have a compatible phone, it looks like I might need a smaller one.
Now drive controls in this guy are a good ol standard column shifter up here.
You do have paddles on the wheel but they have nothing to do with the power train.
These paddles on the right back here, these are for volume up and down.
The paddles on the left are for next selection.
Next preset or next track.
Last thing I want to call out while we're in the cabin is a really good sounding satellite radio ring.
You never hear me say that Satellite radio sounds like crap, but here they're processing it well.
I'm not sure if it's on the front end where they're receiving it or on the back end where the Bose amps are spitting it out.
But it was a pleasure to listen to, good work.
Under the hood is 5.3 liters of an all aluminum V8 with modern direct injection and cylinder shutoff.
To make it run on fewer pots.
It's a flex fuel vehicle.
They get quite a bit more on E 85, ditto for the torque number.
But your MPG drops precipitously.
And our sample is rear wheel drive with the one choice only six speed automatic.
Okay, we're on the road and I swear when I was looking to buy one of these back in '92, it drove exactly like this one does.
It's got a slightly disconnected overall driving feel.
We don't have the magnetic rod control, which an LTZ would have.
That would flatten and firm things up, I'm sure.
Now, what I'm missing here most, though, is no kind of responsive drive mode.
No sport mode, if you will.
Which might seem a little silly in a Tahoe, but I want something sharper.
I can put this transmission into manual, now I can shift with this little toggle rocker I showed you here.
Not very sporting, as you can imagine.
There's a certain kind of ride that a body on frame vehicle has that no other vehicle's gonna replicate.
If you've not driven one You've got to do it to know what I'm talking about.
Let's talk about some of the driver assist technologies.
I can turn on or turn off my lane keep.
I get a very well-calibrated nudge back into my lane.
It's not too late, it's not too aggressive, nor is it too light.
Very well done.
We've also got variable distance forward collision warning.
Which I wasn't able to trigger.
It's a bit of a tricky thing to do in real traffic but I'll take their word for it.
Blind spot indicators in the mirror, that's an option by the way.
Part of a package.
And finally new on this generation of [UNKNOWN] is electrically assisted power steering as opposed to hydraulic Something that drives like this, you can't really tell much of a difference.
It's mostly a fuel saving thing to take some parasitic load off the engine.
I'll tell you a couple of folks have walked up to me and said, you know, I'm glad the Tahoe is still a Tahoe.
There's something about this vehicle that's a touchstone in American automotive culture, and it still is what it was.
Okay Tahoe's not a cheap date but you get a lot of vehicle here.
$53,000 for an LT, this is the middle trim.
One of the first options you might want to add is navigation for a paltry $495 because it just is that one module on top of that existing Chevy modeling.
I want a sunroof for $ 995.00.
I also want an option in way down low on the configuration a Borla Cat Back exhaust.
Hel yes sign me up for that for $1300.
It's a dealer install, but like it.
The only package I'm taking is called luxury.
$3100 bucks for keyless entry/ heated second row, that nifty charging pad.
Park assist sensors and blind spot tech.
All in about $59 and change for a well trimmed, midline Tahoe LT, that is, maybe not a cheap vehicle, carries a lot of stuff even though it's not a The suburban, handsome clean urban lines now, and there's something comforting about the fact that a Tahoe will always be a Tahoe
Find our full review on the '16 Tahoe LT over at Roadshow, that's TheRoadShow.com.
Now when I come back we're gonna find out how this unlikely thing has become a hotbed of in car tech innovation.
When CNET On Cars returns.
Over the longest time Your mirror, was just that.
Your rearview mirror.
That's just about all it did.
It was about as innovative as the parking beak pedal.
But then all of a sudden, the last few years.
That has become, kind of a center, of in cabin tech innovation.
If you wanna go see next style.
Of course, the most requested new feature people would like to get, is a rear view camera.
You have to hook that up, of course, to a camera that you have to install at the back of your car.
That's actually the hardest part.
But the nice thing about that admittedly small image is that at least it's in the same place where you should be looking, anyway, as opposed to looking down.
Next up comes dashcam.
Americans are kinda warming up to these.
Many of our viewers in other parts of the world know exactly what I'm talking about.
This mirror, for example's, got a forward looking HD camera on the side that is always looking out and can record on demand.
Or when there's an impact it'll autorecord and save ten seconds back.
Now Bluetooth Handsfree, there's a lot of ways to get this done in your car, but there are Are also mirrors that incorporate that, so this is the microphone, the speaker, and the bluetooth pairing wireless technology.
The upside is it's all very tidy and pretty easy to install.
The downside is it won't integrate with your factory audio, so it won't.
Use the radio for example, when a call comes in.
You've got to do that manually.
Please hold the road for 11 [CROSSTALK].
Now of course, turn by turn navigation is probably the crown prince of in car tech right now, and you can also get that in a rear view mirror.
The downside is it's nowhere near as good as Android, or Google, or Waze, or Apple maps navigation.
It's a big step down but it's tidy, and maybe you're one of those [INAUDIBLE] who doesn't have a smart phone, in which case, it'll be a miracle.
Connecting to On star.
Those guys used to offer a dedicated mirror called ON star FMV, that would have on star features built in.
Many of them, not all.
It was missing some key things Like remote door unlock, or stolen vehicle location and slow down.
So it didn't sell real well, but if you want the smaller subset of features that it does support, they're still out there for sale.
Quite a few stocked new at different retailers.
And On Star will still activate at their usual service rates.
And of course, General Motors recently rolled out the first full video rearview mirror on the Cadillac CT 6. It is amazing.
I have no doubt that becomes the default technology on all new cars in the next few years.
But in the meantime, the only way you can get it is buying a new car There's no aftermarket model that I know of.
Now if you buy a mirror that has any or all of these available features like I'm talking about, make sure you find out if it's an all new mirror, that mounts on the stud on the windshield.
Or if it's a clip on that goes on your existing mirror, I find that to be an [UNKNOWN] mess but that's just me.
The good news is a lot of these mirrors are very inexpensive.
$100-$200, it's amazing for what they do.
The downside is that's because none of them are major brand names.
They're all second tier companies.
So you're gonna have to sift a lot of reviews and a lot of user feedback to find the good ones But I believe there are such out there, in my experience, it's just not drop dead simple.
Okay, let's get to some of your emails, favorite part of the show.
You have questions, I hopefully will have answers.
First one comes in from Avi, he's in Houston, and he says, I've got a 2010 Toyota Corolla And he got one of those letters from the company saying, you've got bad, dangerous Takata airbags.
Why is it taking, he asks, such a long time to find a solution for the issue?
He notes, I live in Houston, which is hot and humid, which are the ideal conditions They tell us to cause those airbags to fail.
Heat and humidity was related to their issues.
He says, how do I drive my car or even take my newborn son in it knowing that I'm sitting in a ticking time bomb?
Oddly, a lot of issues around the Takata airbag reissue.
Toyota is just one of Just about every manufacturer out there has been caught with these things and caught with their pants down.
Here's what I can tell you.
The biggest problem behind the delay is the fact that it's the biggest recall ever, by far.
There are just too many cars to be fixed And there is nowhere near the supply of airbags they need.
Takata and just about every other airbag manufacturer in the world are all chipping in with capacity.
It is still going to take years to get the back log cleared, cars like yours as well.
I would assume though your car being Fast track by Toyota, because they will know geographically that you're in the zone that has those environmental conditions.
I can also tell you this, another option is to stop driving your car.
Honda has issued stop drive orders on some cars that are out there.
I was talking to some Subaru owners the other day, who were telling me that their dealer has offered to pay, in fact has demanded that they stop driving their car, and will pay for three to four months Of rental car to keep them out of their dangerous Subarus.
Dangerous only because they have these defective Takata Airbags.
And another possibility, this is very controversial by the way, is to deactivate one or more of the airbags in your car.
I know that Toyota has authorised dealers to do this in some cases.
I don't know if your car is eligible for that.
I don't know if you wanna do that, but it is an option out there.
The Takata airbag scandal is like no other.
So I'm sorry, it's gonna be a wait for you and a lot of other people.
[SOUND] When I come back, more of your email, including why speedometer tech is intentionally wrong.
Welcome back to Cnet On Cars coming to you from our home in the Mountain Motor Club north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Our next email comes in from Lane P who says Nissan is reportedly engineering a variable compression engine for its Infiniti line in 2018.
Could you explain how this works And what efficiency we could gain as a result, well Layne variable compression means not just efficiency at some times, it could also mean a lot more performance as well.
And yes, you're right, Nissan for the Infinity line first has rolled out what they call the VC-T, variable compression and it will also be turbocharged, hence the T.
The idea here is that in this engine they've got mechanical linkages that literally in Jules Verne kind of way allow the piston to travel more or less up and down the cylinder depending on engine condition and vehicle load.
Now, that means you can go to compression ratio from eight to one.
All the way up to 14 to one which is very high compression.
Depending on how that's used with other engine systems, fuel and air mixture and such, you can get a much more fuel efficient engine at some moments, and a much more powerful, potent engine at other moments.
That's the rough idea behind having compression variability.
In the past, we had to built engines that had a fixed compression ratio.
And most cars do today.
And you kind of ballpark it.
A little efficient but also with a good dose of power.
Kind of in the middle.
Having a variable compression ratio is gonna unlock a lot of engine personalities.
And I can tell you this, variable compression ratio engines are entirely new.
Hybrids do basically variable compression in every single one out there using what's called an Atkinson Cycle.
In this case, they use the valves to basically leak out some of the pressure at a certain moment in the cycle and create a low compression engine that way towards the aim of fuel efficiency.
But in this Nissan tech, they can go way toward power or way toward fuel efficiency.
It's impressive, it's mechanical We'll see how complicated, heavy, and expensive it is, but they've made the decision to go with it.
Our last email for this show comes in from Daniel Van Dee.
He is in Australia.
He says between the speeds of 40 and a hundred kilometers per hour, my 2011 Volkswagen GTI's speedometer and my GPS speedometer on his application show a three to ten kilometer per hour disparity.
With the GPS, he says, usually showing the slower speed.
Which one should I trust, and that matters when you don't want get tickets, doesn't it?
Okay, Daniel, here's the thing.
Speedometers like yours are never accurate.
I've never seen one that reads right and they tend to read higher the faster you go.
An overage, if you will.
They're optimistic, if you want to put it that way.
Here's how it works in the US.
You're allowed to have your speedo read between two and five percent above true speed.
And, again, usually a higher percentage the higher speed you go.
So European standard's a little different.
It's one-tenth of the speed plus four kilometers per hour is the allowable maximum additional that the speedo can show and still be considered Acceptable if not accurate, it's an auto maker tradition that goes way back and part of it is they don't want be on the hook for you getting a speeding ticket because their speedos said you were doing less than your were.
They instead show you doing more than you actually are.
I don't know why they don't just make the damn thing accurate, but they've been doing it this way forever.
By the way if you're concerned about what this all means to the age of a used car you buy and it's true mileage.
Odometers need to be accurate, speedometers are the ones that will run high.
If you do want your VW to read dead on, there is aftermarket software you can get, called VCVS, and it allows you to go and change a bunch of parameters in your engine and automotive computers.
And one of them is the speedometer calibration, 3 to $500.
I'm not sure if it's worth it to you, but you can do a lot more than just tweak your speed If your inclined to do so.
Thanks for watching I hope you enjoyed this episode don't forget it's all based on your emails keep them coming at OnCars@cnet.com I read everyone and reply to as many as I can and shoe as many on the show as we can fit as well.
Ill see you next time with check the tech