- The Chevy Tahoe is a large-and-in-charge American SUV that’s a great way to haul around a large family.
- Our tester was a $70,000-plus special edition, but the base Tahoe is $47,500.
- Fuel economy is a negative, comfort and power are not.
I have three kids and a dog, which makes me the patriarch of a bigger-than-average American family.
In theory, we can cram everybody in a five-passenger car or SUV. But in practice, doing something that foolish would unleash combat.
So when we take a road trip of any length, I generally look to secure a seven-passenger vehicle. Ideally a large seven-passenger vehicle.
Our lastest jaunt took myself, my lovely wife, and all three kids to the North Fork of Long Island – about a three-hour drive from our home base. Marco the dog didn’t join us this time around, as he did on our last family sojourn in a Tesla Model X SUV.
- Matthew DeBord/BI
Our chariot was a Chevy Tahoe RST – a special, higher-performance version of Chevy’s full-size SUV (and the brand’s second-biggest ride, behind the Suburban). It tipped the cost scales at over $70,000. And it was pretty much perfect, even when you take into account the fuel-economy, which is unlikely to average better than 20 mpg unless you spend 100% of your driving days on the highway.
Seventy grand is a lot to spend for a family transportation platform, but with the Tahoe RST you’re paying for a 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 and some additional performance goodies, such as beefier brakes and aftermarket-type exhaust, to go along with the 6,600-pound towing capacity (8,600 if you set the SUV up specifically to haul stuff) and the general feeling a driving around in an old-school road-ruler.
Compare with a perfectly capable minivan, which can also swallow up a family of five. The Tahoe is simply larger, more powerful, more comfortable, and more commanding. And it’s much, much more expensive.
But you get what you pay for. I’ve owned a minivan, and last year, I surveyed the state of the art for the US minivan market. And while I recommend these oft-stigmatized people-schleppers for families, it is objectively more fun to tool around in a great big old American SUV. It’s also objectively worse for the environment, but everyone needs to make up his or her own mind about such matter. I’ve done my part by avoiding ownership of a Corvette Stingray, favoring a Toyota Prius instead.
The Tahoe, now in its fourth generation (it’s been around since 1992) has genuine offroad credibility, making a good choice for country-dwelling folks with trailers to tow and trails to negotiate. But it’s also a powerful and pleasant freeway cruiser, as we discovered.
With a rear-seat entertainment setup and “Star Wars” box set of DVDs, plus some wireless headphone, we were able to offer timeless space-opera storytelling to our two boys. My teenage daughter chose to sack out in the compact third row and Snapchat away while using the 4G LTE wifi setup.
- Matthew DeBord/BI
My wife and I grooved on the blues as piped through the SiriusXM radio and the Bose sound system. Our gear for a weekend fit nicely in the cargo area. However, for a weeklong trip, space back there would be tight. As it stood, one of the third-row seats was folded down to provide additional room.
The Tahoe RST is crazy fast for a giant SUV: the 0-60mph run have been achieved by some reviewers in under six seconds. I wouldn’t want to go around corners too hard in this 7,000-pound beast, but in a straight line it’s satisfying, at with 460 pound-feet of torque channeled through tidy 10-speed automatic transmission, the Tahoe RST has the oomph to pass freight trains.
The infotainment system is Chevy Intellilink, and it’s dandy. With been impressed with its features across all General Motors’ vehicles. Bluetooth pairing is a snap, the GPS navigation was faultless, and you have both USB and AUX options for devices, as well as numerous USB ports throughout the SUV for charging devices.
The RST upgrade is probably not something most families will need. But it does add something special to this very familiar machine. The thousands of dollars extra on final sticker might mean you’ll put a dent in the college fund. But they’ll also put a smile on your face.