Old dog, new tricks. The 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe is due for a redesign, and it’s about to get one. The big SUV will be all-new for 2021, so this is the last model year of the current generation.
But the Chevy Tahoe doesn’t feel as dated as you might think. The exterior is classic SUV boxiness, but it holds up just as well today as it did five years ago. The interior is up to date too. The cabin is large and storage is plentiful. Infotainment is handled by an 8-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
The Tahoe even has a full suite of available active safety tech, which is nice for a truck-based vehicle. It’s not standard, though, which is starting to become a liability for a family-hauler.
Truck frame, truck power. Unlike the crossovers crowding the market, the Chevy Tahoe is an old-fashioned, truck-based SUV. It shares its platform with the Chevy Silverado 1500.
It’s not just the bones, either. The Tahoe’s two V8 engines (5.3 or 6.2 liters) are the same ones you’ll find in Chevy’s pickups.
The upshot is that the Tahoe has more clearance than most crossovers, and it’s a capable off-road warrior. The four-wheel-drive system can come with a two-speed transfer case, and an off-road package adds skid plates and all-terrain tires.
Oddly enough, it’s the smaller engine that gets the better towing capacity: 8,600 pounds. That’s excellent for an SUV, although it’s still bested by the impressive Ford Expedition.
Cargo space is strong as well, with 52 cubic feet behind the second row or 95 cubes with it folded. Capacity is best without the third row, though – with it in place, the Tahoe can fit just 15.3 cubic feet. If that’s an issue, consider the Chevrolet Suburban, which is essentially a stretched out version of the same vehicle.
…Truck handling and efficiency too. But truck virtues come with truck drawbacks, and there’s a reason crossovers are gaining popularity. The most glaring downside is fuel economy, which is dismal across the board. The best the Chevy Tahoe can do is an EPA-estimated 18 miles per gallon combined, which drops to 17 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that opting for the larger engine doesn’t make things worse. Thanks to cylinder deactivation technology that turns the V8 into a V4 on the highway, the 6.2-liter engine also manages 17 mpg combined.
While the Tahoe is more comfortable than its pickup cousins, it still rides like a truck. It’s bumpier than we’d like, especially on larger rims, and handling is far from sporty. This may not be a priority for some SUV buyers, but the Tahoe can’t hang with the crossovers in the corners.
Endless customizability. The Chevrolet Tahoe can keep up on option selection. The Tahoe starts with solid base features and expands into a versatile model range.
The Tahoe comes in three trims, but the price range covers at least $20,000. The top-trim Premier holds up reasonably well against luxury SUVs with features like faux-wood trim and a magnetically damped suspension.
The mid-range LT is our pick, though. It gets luxury features like leather upholstery and Bose audio at decent value, and it includes some of the active safety tech standard.
The Tahoe’s steadfast versatility remains one of its best tricks. It can tow a boat just as well as it can handle family duty, and that’s an impressive trick – as long as you don’t mind stopping at the gas station often.
Final Thoughts. Chevy is proud of the fact that the Tahoe has been America’s best-selling full-size SUV for decades, and the 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe still makes a good case for itself.
The powertrains are good, the cabin is comfortable and modern, and the utility is undeniable. But the Tahoe is starting to show its age here and there. Fuel economy this bad gets less and less excusable, and crossovers are increasingly able to offer just as much space with a better drive.
We anticipate some upgrades with the new generation. With any luck, they’ll bring the Tahoe up to speed.
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