The 2011 Chevy Tahoe is again very likely to be a top pick in the traditional, truck-based large SUV segment due to its comfortable and spacious cabin, powerful engine and robust towing capability, solid build quality and outstanding crash test ratings.
While the Chevrolet Tahoe is perhaps best known for its well-earned reputation for toughness, it also scores high grades for its overall refinement and practicality. Sure, its powerful V8 engine and capable four-wheel-drive system give it a "go anywhere" and "pull anything" demeanor. Yet when it comes to tamer daily transportation needs, the Tahoe provides a smooth and comfortable drive in a roomy and well-appointed interior with three rows of seats. It's a useful and appealing combination. Even its fuel economy is surprisingly decent for a vehicle of this size and muscle.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2011 Chevy Tahoe is offered in a choice of three trims: LS, LT and LTZ (the Hybrid will be reviewed separately).
Standard features on the already well-equipped base Tahoe LS include, power windows, power doorlocks, power and heated mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, 8-passenger seating, power front seats, tri-zone manual climate control, rear audio controls, keyless entry, cruise control, an anti-theft protection system, a 60/40-split second-row seat, a 50/50-split removable third-row seat, tinted glass, a tire pressure monitor, roof rails, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, OnStar, Bluetooth and a 6-speaker stereo system with a CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, an iPod/USB interface and an auxiliary input jack.
There's also an optional Convenience package for the LS that adds remote engine start, rear parking assist, a reaview camera (mirror display) and power-adjustable pedals. In addition, a front split bench seat can replace the bucket seats for 9-passenger seating and 4WD models come with a single-speed transfer case.
Moving up to the Tahoe LT includes most of the available LS features plus tri-zone automatic climate control, foglamps, leather-trimmed 8-passenger seating, a 9-speaker Bose audio system and a locking rear differential.
Additional optional items available for the LT include second-row captain's chairs (reduces passenger seating to seven) and a Luxury package which adds heated front and second-row seats, a power liftgate and power-folding mirrors. There's also a Z71 Off-Road package that adds off-road-tuned springs and shocks, skid plates, 18-inch alloy wheels, all-terrain tires and special front and rear fascias.
The top-of-the-line Tahoe LTZ comes standard with the LT's Luxury package and 7-passenger seating plus 20-inch wheels, perforated leather-trimmed upholstery, power flip-and-fold second-row seats, a suspension system with active damping, heated and ventilated front seats, a navigation system with real-time traffic, exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals and ground lights and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system. In addition, for 8-passenger seating a second-row split bench seat can used in place of the captain's chairs. And 4WD versions come with a two-speed transfer case.
Available optional features for the LTZ include a blind-spot warning system and power-retractable assist steps. Options available on the LTZ and other Tahoe models also include a Trailering package, a rear entertainment system, a sunroof and a number of 20- and 22-inch wheel choices.
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
Powering the 2011 Tahoe is a 5.3-liter V8 that's good for 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission that sends power through the rear wheels on 2WD models and all four wheels on the 4WD models. 4WD Tahoes can be outfitted with either a traditional two-speed transfer case or a single-speed unit without low-range gearing.
In performance tests, a 4WD Tahoe has been timed from a standstill to 60 mph in just 8.5 seconds, a fairly quick time for such a large vehicle. And when properly equipped, the new Tahoe has a towing capacity of 8,500 pounds.
The EPA-estimated gas mileage for the 2011 Chevy Tahoe is a respectable 15 mpg city and 21 mpg on the highway for both 2WD and 4WD models.
Standard safety features for all 2011 Tahoes include OnStar emergency telematics, stability control, antilock brakes (ABS), front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. In addition, all Tahoe models can be outfitted with rear parking sensors and a rearview camera, while a blind-spot warning system is available on the LTZ.
In government crash tests, the Tahoe was awarded the highest possible rating of five stars for all frontal and side-impact occupant protection categories.
The 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe's cabin is attractive, roomy, well-constructed with high quality materials and user-friendly. Seating is comfortable and supportive both front and rear, although some drivers may be impacted by the lack of a telescoping steering wheel.
While up to 9-passenger seating is a big plus for some families, the third-row does not fold flat and must be removed to open up additional cargo space. The removal of the rear seats is not a simple process as they are fairly heavy. That said, once removed, the available storage capacity is a very generous 109 cubic feet.
The acceleration of the 2011 Chevy Tahoe is impressive for a nearly 3-ton vehicle, as is its energetic towing ability. Highway cruising is also effortless, quiet and smooth, while its tight 39-foot turning radius makes it reasonable to maneuver around town. Even so, while the Tahoe drives confidently and easily, it is not surprising that a vehicle of this size suffers somewhat when it comes to overall handling dynamics.
How To Get The Lowest Price:
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Prices: 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe:
LS, RWD: list price: $37,570, invoice price: $34,940
LS. 4WD: list price: $41,630, invoice price: $38,716
LT, RWD: list price: $42,420, invoice price: $39,451
LT, 4WD: list price: $45,270, invoice price: $42,101
LTZ, RWD: list price: $51,055, invoice price: $47,481
LTZ, 4WD: list price: $54,160, invoice price: $50,369