Cooley On Cars
On the road: 2016 Chevy Tahoe LTBrian Cooley drives the freshened Chevy Tahoe and tells you how it's changed and how it hasn't.
As much as things are changing convulsively in the auto industry these days, they aren't so much doing so here. Here being in the cabin of a 2016 Chevy Tahoe. This thing's kind of an anachronism but in a freshened way. Let's find out how Chevy walks the very fine line between something modern and new and something that takes you back to the past. As we drive a 16 Tahoe LT. Rear wheel drive with some interesting new cabin 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, it's 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 inches shorter overall, and that's huge. 14 inches shorter wheelbase, that's from front to rear axle. Ten inches less third-row leg room. That makes a world of difference. And when you fold down the third 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. Three to 400 pounds more than the bigger suburban because this vehicle isn't saddled with so much of its own weight and can devote that to towing capacity. Out back you've got a lift gate and separate lift glass. A lot of folks like that. When you lower the seats, 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 going to 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. So we've got Android Auto and Apple Car Play. I'm showing you Android Auto right now. That's what music looks like. You're calling interface, your turn by turn navigation, all very clean and consistent. If a supported phone is not connected, you end up with 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 length. Just FYI. And 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 sometimes I understand you want your Nav. to come from your phone I don't need to duplicate that. Now under the On Star menu you've got the wi-fi settings and that gets you to the 4G powered wi-fi hot spot in the vehicle. Now whatever device you're using, 4G or wi-fi, you're still gonna have to charge it once in a while and that's where this comes in handy. The very slick, integrated charging pad, it's part of an option package by the way, and it's compatible with both the PMA or Powermat standard as well as the Chi charging standard. Now, I can't test it cuz I have neither on my phone, probably like you. And even I did have a compatible phone, it looks like I might need a smaller one. Now drive controls in this guy are good old 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 rig. 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 5.3L of an all aluminum V8 with modern direct injection and cylinder shut off. To make it run on fewer pots. It's a flex fuel vehicle, 355 horsepower, though you get quite a bit more on E-85. Ditto for the torque number, but your MPG drops precipitously. Our sample is rear wheel drive, with a one choice only six speed automatic. Okay, we're on the road and I swear, when I was looking at buying one of these back in 92, it drove exactly like this one. [LAUGH] It's got a slightly disconnected overall driving feel. We don't have the magnetic ride 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 a more 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 toggle rocker I showed you here. It's 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 it. If you haven't driven one You 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 Kind 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 on option by the way, part of a package. And finally, new on this generation of Tahoe is electrically assisted power steering as opposed to hydraulic. In 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. [MUSIC] Okay, Tahoe is not a cheap date, but you get a lot of vehicle here. 53 grand for a LT. This is the middle trim. One of the first options you might want to add is navigation. For a paltry 495 because it is just one module on top of that existing Chevy mile link. I want a sunroof for 995, I also want an option hidden way down low on the configuration a Borla tap back exhaust. Hell yea, sign me up for that for 1300 bucks. It's a dealer install but I like it. And 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 check. 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 Suburban Handsome, clean, urban lines now and there's something comforting about the fact that a Tahoe will always be a Tahoe. More cars driven CNET style, standing by now at CNETOnCars.com, click On The Road. [MUSIC]