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2007 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV Review, Specs, Photos

2007 Chevy Tahoe Review

by Denise McCluggage

Well,” I say to my driving companions, “Whatever they charge for it they’ll have to add an amusement tax.” This delights Gary White in the back seat. He is chief engineer for General Motors full-size trucks. With my fellow journalist Ann Job riding shot-gun we are road testing a product Gary and his small and diligent team have been re-working and kneading and tweaking and smoothing. Not that it’s required that a large SUV be fun to drive, but by golly I’m having a dandy time in this redesigned Chevy Tahoe, current best seller in the large SUV segment with a quarter of the market to itself and looking to more than hang on with this 2007 model. It is now in showrooms.

2007 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV New Car Review, Specs, Photos

We are driving on a sinuous and scenic unpaved road that follows the rim of Lake Roosevelt in the mountains east of Phoenix. The road surface offers tenuous grip at best; think Kitty Litter on a tiled floor. I am playing with the Tahoe’s light but precise steering as we follow the twists holding to just enough variance in slip angles of the front and the rear wheels to approach the sensation of skiing in balance. If that isn’t worth a tax nothing is.

I did not expect the swell of fondness I feel toward this most certainly big machine. Fond is what one feels for big-eyed kittens and flop-eared puppies, but to be honest fond describes my attitude toward this darned truck. And surprise. And stir in a dash of “at last!”

GM has too long replaced adequacy with adequacy and still succeeded. Buyers’ habit and the convenience of many dealerships have managed to keep the GM’s SUV at the top of that market and allowed the General to coast on mere OK-ness. But competition has sharpened and the General had either pull up his socks or sit down. The new Tahoe and other GM SUVs based on the same underpinnings (Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon, Chevy Suburban etc.) are convincingly demonstrating serious intent.

What did the design team do?

Appearance, Exterior
Here, expect a new level of, well, authenticity. Off with the cladding; away with posturing. Yes, the Tahoe is big. It has to be to haul people (seven or eight) and stuff (up to 1867 pound payload in the two-wheel drive, less in the heavier 4x4). And to tow boats and vintage race cars and trailers full of flea market largesse (up to 7700 pounds in the 4x4, less in the 2x4.) But it doesn’t accentuate its size, which is somewhat bigger all around than the previous model. It’s not a body builder with an oiled chest; it’s a sizeable, competent performer in a tailored jacket.

The new Tahoe is a clean package communicating capability and strength without bluster. Its new demeanor has more an affinity with moving air rather than a blatant contest. Designers have pared off the superfluous (even the lip on the fuel filler door) to make this large SUV as slippery to the air stream as a Corvette of a few generations ago. That means using less fuel. This large SUV is rated at 16 mpg city, 22 highway for the two-wheel drive version, but even the 4x4 is stickered at 15/21. And regular, not premium, fuel is recommended.

Appearance, Interior
Open the doors and climb inside. Change is evident, more explicitly: great improvement. GM interiors have long seemed unimaginative, cost-conscious or unevenly conceived.

Materials were chosen without consideration for tactile attributes. My prescription has been sit designers in an Audi or VW for an hour a day. It seems that they may have done it. Anyway, previous monolithic dullness now glows with that corner-office ambiance the Germans are so good at. In this new Tahoe both hand and eye have been catered to. And no fudging the fit with framing or other tricks. A truck this may be but it’s a coolly sophisticated one.

2007 Chevrolet Tahoe Interior

Not that its usefulness as a truck has been compromised. Flexibility is offered for the three-row interior: bench or bucket seats are a choice for all rows. And a unique power system means the second row of seats can flip and fold at the touch of a button. And look good either way. No undergarment hardware shows. And no floor tracks glint when the seats slide. Listen, they actually sweated the details instead of sloganeering about it.

The third row of seats is much easier to get into than in the current Tahoe model. In cargo mode, the seats continue to fold flat and tip forward out of the way as in earlier models. The choice was not to redesign the rear suspension to allow the seats to disappear below floor level as they do in the Ford Expedition. Surveys apparently indicated this wasn’t a deal maker or breaker. That point will be made clearer when the new Expedition arrives later this year.

The Tahoe’s front row seats recline if resting the bod is on the agenda. They’re comfortable and supportive in underway mode.

The Engine and Transmission
So the Tahoe looks good in and out. It moves well, too. Consider the engines. Two V8s are offered. The smaller one is 4.8 liters in displacement producing 290 horsepower (at 5400 rpm) and 290 pounds-feet of torque (at 4000 4pm). This engine will be standard later this year on the two-wheel drive Tahoe.

The bigger V8, 5.3 liters, is rated for 320 hp (5300 rpm) and 340 lbs.-ft. of torque (4200 rpm). The engine has what is sometimes called d.o.d. – displacement on demand. That means the engine under the demand of getting away from a stop sign, climbing a rise or passing a string of 18-wheelers employs all eight cylinders for power. But when effortlessly lazing, cruising the road away, the engine seamlessly shifts to using only four-cylinders with a consequential lighter thirst for fuel. Thus a reasoned driving style can pay off at the pumps despite the Tahoe’s size.

The 5.3 liter engine can also be ordered as a “flex fuel” one, which means it can use fuel that is 85% ethanol as well as gasoline. Coming late next fall, the word “Hybrid” will be written on some Tahoe trunks and a gasoline/electric system, one designed to improve mileage under steady use and not just stop and go regeneration, will be fitted. Some 20% improvement in fuel mileage and cleaner emissions should result. When I asked about the availability of a diesel engine I got that sort of noncommittal reply that I took to mean: “One will come no telling what or when.” What an awesome package a clean diesel in this Tahoe would be: torque, range and great mileage.

The Suspension and Handling
The LTZ model has a suspension system supposed to alter the Tahoe’s ride to best cope with the road surface of the moment, relaxed on smooth highways and stiffening to cope with corners and quick maneuvers.

Some of my colleagues found the changes to be too abrupt. I liked the LT models set-up just fine and too limited experience with the LTZ. Check them both out to find your own preferences.

I was surprised to find that in a market moving toward more and more speeds in automatic transmissions that GM chose to stay with four in the Tahoe, yet in use I can’t say I noticed a short-coming. Perhaps I was too busy being pleased with the vehicle’s look and feel and good manners to notice.

Benchmarking with Anticipation
A common practice in the industry is for manufacturers to dissect their competitors and then at least match them in features and performance. The difficulty with this approach to benchmarking is that the target thus hit is one already being changed. The real competition is moving on. Tahoe’s designers this time played the benchmark game like a good quarterback and factored in a lead. They studied the competition, found the weak spots, assumed that these shortcomings were equally obvious to the competition and thus were apt to be changed in the new models. The Tahoe was thus aimed at the anticipated new target. We’ll see how well this worked as the new models emerge. The Tahoe may not be revolutionary, but it has evolved more than a few stages in one attractive swoop.

Safety and Stars
The decision was made up front to meet certain goals, the over 20 mpg was one and five star ratings (the top) on all safety questions. Single vehicle rollovers is a scourge of any large vehicle that carries it center of gravity high. Clearly expecting drivers to compensate for the obvious has not happened. So the Tahoe has been lowered and widened to keep it more firmly attached to the earth in spite of poor helmsmanship. Without compromising its ground clearance and ability to get fisher folk to their headwaters or skiers to their snowy aeries the Tahoe has earned the five stars it aimed for.

Getting the Job Done
The large SUV market took a quick shrink when gas prices shot upward. Perhaps those who turned to the smaller and more economical were those who were drawn to the big ones in the first place by other than need. Maybe they saw in the size protection and a sense of strength they could borrow. But there are those who really need big. To carry, to haul, to tow. GM has given those who need BIG a big break with its new SUVs like the Tahoe. Enhanced safety enhanced spaciousness, enhanced usefulness, enhanced economy, enhanced esthetics.

And somehow enhanced pleasure in driving it. No wonder Gary White is smiling in the back seat.

2007 Chevy Tahoe
Mid-Size Sedan
Model options:

LS, LT1, LT2, LT3 and LTZ

116.0 inches
Overall length:
202.0 inches
Engine size:

Vortec 5300 V8

Hydra-Matric four-speed automatic
Rack and pinion

4-wheel ventilated disc, ABS

Air bags:
2 (front) 2 (side) 2 (side curtain)
Fuel mileage city/hwy:

2WD: 16/20 mpg
4x4: 15/21 mpg


325i: $ 30,995
330i: $ 36,995