Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon: A Pair of High Tech SUVs
General Motors knows how to make trucks and SUVs better than they know how to do anything else– and it has good motivation. GM calls their trucks/SUVS “profit centers,” which is PR speak for “vehicles that are cheap to build and we can sell a ton.” In other words, the Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban, Silverado, GMC Yukon, Yukon XL, and Sierra are the bread and butter for the General. It is with this in mind that we ventured to Lake Tahoe to test the all-new 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon Denali. All these vehicles may share a similar platform, but they are far from the cookie-cutter vehicles of past generations. The exterior styling is vastly different between the GMC and Chevrolet offerings. PHOTOS: See More of the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe
The Tahoe delivers conservative styling, with straight lines, and a crisp grille design. The headlights have a small “tab” in them, which extends from the rear– as if General Motors focus grouped 100 people, and half of them wanted the headlights to be split (a la Chevrolet Silverado) and the other half did not. The design choice is a confusing one, and is almost a microcosmic bellwether of corporate indecision.
The design of the Yukon is far more defined. This is the vehicle with the swagger, and announces its arrival with a big truck-like hood, imposing grille, and squared headlights with a character mark that reaches back towards the A-pillars. The upscale Yukon Denali adds a revised chrome grille, available 22-inch wheels, and the larger of the two engines.
PHOTOS: See More of the GMC Yukon Denali
The Chevrolet Tahoe ( and Suburban are both equipped with a 5.3-liter V8 engine that makes 355 horsepower and 383 pound feet of torque. It is a stout and capable engine, and with cylinder deactivation and direct injection, it is also surprisingly efficient– returning 23 mpg highway with the rear wheel drive model. (RWD: 16/23, 4x4: 16/23)
PHOTOS: See More of the 2015 Chevrolet Suburban
This engine is also standard in the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL. The 5.3 makes solid power with the shorter wheelbase models, and respectable with the longer Suburban and Yukon XL, but we can see this V8 working pretty hard to tow larger items up a mountain. If you feel the need for more power, only GMC offers the larger 6.2-liter V8. It makes a robust 420 horsepower and 460 pound feet of torque. This engine really moves, and can put down a 0-60 time that’s actually around 6.5 seconds!
The upgrades do not end there for the Yukon Denali. All trims of the Tahoe, Suburban and Yukon feature a refined interior and share a common layout for the climate and audio controls, as well as the center console. This new design is packaged in a far better manner than the outgoing SUVs. A far greater level of attention has been put to how drivers interact with the Tahoe/Yukon on a daily basis, as evidenced by the plethora of cup holders storage cubbies, and USB power points.
The base LS Tahoe ($45,595) features a smaller digital screen in the dash, while upgrading to the LT or LTZ adds the larger digital touch screen for audio and climate controls, as well as navigation. It is all laid out like a tablet device, and icons are customizable. These vehicles also features Chevy MyLink which includes apps for Pandora, Yelp, and more.
PHOTOS: See More of the 2015 GMC Yukon XL
The base Yukon SLE trim ($47,330) comes standard with that digital touch screen, but you’ll need to up the ante to the STL trim ($55,730) to get goodies like navigation and heated seats.
But the Yukon Denali is the SUV riding on rarified air. GMC regards this vehicle so highly that it qualifies it as a separate model on their website. Starting at $62,680, it fills the gap between the SLT and what is sure to be a more expensive Cadillac Escalade when it comes out next year.
So what does both the average consumer AND the enthusiast need to know about the Chevrolet Tahoe? Well, it has to do appease many different types of buyers. From the Secret Service to ski trips to soccer practice, the Tahoe needs to be many things to many people. It might have DNA that is rooted in more traditional trucks, but at its core is one of the most capable, and yet technologically advanced vehicles on the market today. The fact that an automaker can roll out a new SUV and make it this comprehensive speaks to the efforts of General Motors. You might not want or need an SUV, but with cylinder deactivation, a bevy of safety equipment, high-tech goodies and an honest effort at weight reduction, the Chevrolet Tahoe is an SUV for the modern world– and the decades ahead.
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Photo Credit: George Kennedy for BoldRide