I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a teenager, working at a high-end audio store in tony Old Greenwich, Connecticut, and all of a sudden this quiet downtown formally filled with Volvo’s, BMW’s and the like were suddenly replaced with wealthy stay at home mom’s wielding 2-1/2 ton V-8 full-size Chevy Tahoes. Walking across the street on my lunch break for my favorite hamburger had become a risky proposition. But that was twenty years ago. Fast forward to the present, where I tell my friend at GM I am headed to Pennsylvania with my wife and son in tow for an early Christmas, and I’m going to need something that can haul cargo. GM promptly answered that a 2012 Chevy Tahoe LTZ would be at my disposal.
The Tahoe in its current state has been around since 2007, and has remained true to what it is-a full-size SUV. Yet Chevy has managed to keep the Tahoe looking fresh with clean, crisp lines, and a no-fuss exterior. Finished in Silver Ice Metallic complimented with 20″ polished alloys, the Tahoe looked smart and well-proportioned.
Inside, the Tahoe proved to be a quiet retreat from the maddening traffic we faced just skirting New York City. The quality of trim, fit and finish were both excellent. While not well-bolstered, the seats were very comfortable over the long haul. Chevy’s Nav/infotainment touchscreen was a cinch to use, and we appreciated the quality of the Bose audio for Christmas songs. With the three of us, the Tahoe was a joy to be in, but there was a problem. It being Christmas, we had our own gifts to haul down, and we would need to have seating as well. Not a problem for such a huge SUV you say?
Allow me to explain. Our top-spec Tahoe LTZ seats two up front, with two captain’s chairs in the second row, and a third row that Chevy claims will fit three people. The third row is removable, but because the two front rows had seating for four, I knew I had to keep all three rows. That said, the Tahoe’s cargo bed was loaded to the hilt with the third row folded up, just for a weekend trip. Once in Pennsylvania, with five passengers in this massive SUV could barely contain our grocery shopping. My wife who stands at a towering 5′ tall sat in the third row and was not at all comfortable. For all it’s size, the Tahoe just seemed impossibly impractical for what I needed.
Our Tahoe was powered by a 5.3L V-8 rated at 320hp, paired to a six-speed automatic. With an estimated average EPA fuel economy of 17 MPG the Tahoe is one thirsty girl, but in spite of its truck-heritage, the Tahoe is actually an exceptionally refined ride. The towing limit on the Tahoe was 7,200lbs. Our LTZ had standard Autoride suspension, which I am sure helped, but the truth is the Tahoe was a cinch to eat up mile after mile of interstate. Passing power was never a problem, the V-8 ready and waiting. Yes, the steering feel was dead on arrival in terms of feel, but that’s what you expect on a large SUV. With my wife and son nodding off, I was simply astonished at how the Tahoe remained completely composed as I sliced through traffic.
Our Tahoe LTZ was well equipped, with leather seats that were heated and cooled up front, heated steering wheel, XM Radio, Navigation, three-zone climate control, and power liftgate. Our Tahoe was optioned with the Sun & Entertainment Package, which added rear seat DVD entertainment and sunroof, heavy duty cooling package and trailer brake controller for a total of $59,135USD including delivery.
On our return trip to Connecticut, the Tahoe was positively exceptional, but for nearly $60k there are better options out there for the average family. But if you need to tow, go off-road, and haul folks the Chevy Tahoe more than fits the bill.