Chevrolet introduced the third generation of its garageable, full-size, body-on-frame, 4-door sport utility for 2007. The 2007 to 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe rolls on a stiffer, fully-boxed frame, has rack-and-pinion steering for improved control, and wider front and rear tracks for a lower center of gravity and enhanced road feel. The 2007-2013 Tahoe can seat up to nine passengers or have up to 108 cu ft of cargo with the 2- and 3-row seats folded down. For 2007, the Chevy Tahoe was redesigned with all-new, sleeker sheet metal, more-aerodynamic wraparound fronts and a new, more refined interior with more comfortable seats. Both rear-drive and 4WD models were offered.

Why You Want It

Think of the Tahoe as the Chevy Suburban-Lite. It's more than a foot and a half shorter overall than the big Suburban, so it fits more easily in garages without having to remove the bikes and shelving to make room. Yet, with an 8,400-lb towing capacity in 4WD guise, it'll pull nearly everything that a Suburban will. Three-row passenger space or cargo space with the 3-row seats up isn't as generous as the Suburban's, but the engine/transmission selections, suspension, steering and brakes are identical. 2007-2013 Tahoes come standard with a full suite of safety systems, including OnStar automatic crash notification, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front and side airbags, tire-pressure monitoring and, from 2008-on, roof-mounted head-curtain airbags that deploy in a rollover.

Notable Features and Options

The Chevy Tahoe is available in three trim levels: base LS, mid-level LT and luxury LTZ. LS standard equipment includes a split front bench seat with fold-down armrest and power driver's seat, air conditioning with both front- and rear-seat controls, cruise control, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, OnStar, keyless remote entry, 17-inch alloy wheels and an 8-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with steering-wheel controls. Also standard are a trailer-hitch receiver, a split fold-down rear seat, a security system, a trip computer, a rear defroster, a rear wiper/washer, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a compass, an outside temperature display, intermittent wipers, automatic headlamps and power windows, mirrors and door locks.

Tahoes with the LT trim add standard fog lamps, rear-seat audio controls and power front bucket seats. Also, with the LT trim, many optional features that you cannot select on the LS are available, including a power rear lift gate, turn-signal indicator mirrors, sonar backup sensors, a sunroof, navigation, automatic air-conditioning, a rear-seat entertainment system, heated leather seats with memory, a power front passenger seat, a premium 9-speaker audio system, rain-sensing wipers and 18-in alloy wheels.

Upgrading to the LTZ checks most of the standard-equipment boxes, adding such items as leather seats, 20-in wheels, semi-active real-time adjustable shock-absorber damping, auto air-conditioning, a Homelink garage door opener, heated front seats with memory, adjustable pedals, rain-sensing wipers, ultrasonic reverse sensing and limited-slip differential.

The Z71 Off Road appearance package is a popular option. Its main feature is off-road suspension with high-pressure gas shocks, but it also includes 18-in on/off-road tires, skid plates, a high-capacity air cleaner, auto-locking differential and front recovery hooks. Z71 appearance items consist of large body-color wheel flares, chrome tubular running boards and an aggressive front end with chrome grille insert, plus leather seats and brushed metal trim inside.

The 2007-2009 Chevy Tahoe was available with a Hot Shot windshield washer system that heated the fluid to make cleaning dirty and icy windshields easier, but potential fires due to electrical issues led to a GM-issued recall to have dealers disable the system.

Other popular 2007-2013 Tahoe options included articulated running boards that moved out and down when a door was opened, as well as a remote start system that allowed owners to remotely start and warm up the engine on frigid winter mornings or cool down the interior on a blazing summer day from the comfort of home.

Model Milestones

2008: Head-curtain airbags become standard. The hybrid model introduced. Late introduction of 6.2-liter V8 with 6-speed automatic for the LTZ.

2009: A 6-speed automatic transmission replaces the 4-speed with the 5.3-liter V8. OnStar 8.0 with turn-by-turn navigation, stolen vehicle slowdown and destination download debuts. Bluetooth connectivity with hands-free calling is available. A NavTraffic feature is added to the XM. Side-blind zone alert is now optional on the LTZ. A back-up camera display in the rearview mirror is a new option. A fuel-saving 3.08:1 rear axle is available with the 5.3-liter V8 on 2WD models. There is a new integrated trailer brake controller. The LTZ adds heated and cooled 12-way power leather front seats, Centerpoint Surround-sound Bose audio system, a rear hitch cover and other trim upgrades. The 3-row 3-passenger seat is now standard.

2010: The 6.2-liter V8 is dropped. All 5.3-liter V8s have variable valve timing and are E-85 capable. A USB outlet is added to the console. The LT adds 3-zone air-conditioning, power adjustable pedals, remote start, ultrasonic rear park assist, Bose 9-speaker premium audio and heavy-duty locking rear differential. The 1-speed transfer case is made standard on 4WD models; 2-speed is optional. The gas-saving XFE model is added, which is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at 15 miles per gallon city/21 mpg highway.

2011: Twenty-inch chrome-clad wheels are available on the LTZ.

2012: Heated seats are added to the LT and a heated steering wheel to the LTZ. Electronic trailer sway control and hill-start assist are now standard. Side blind zone alert is now standard on LTZ. There is a new hard-drive navigation radio.

2013: Powertrain grade braking is now available in normal transmission mode.

Engines and Performance

Small-block Chevy V8s power all 2007-2013 Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs. Standard fare on 2007-2009 2WD models is a 295-hp 4.8-liter V8. More common is the 320-hp 5.3-liter V8, standard on 4WD Tahoes and optional on 2WD models. Many 5.3-liter V8s are flex-fuel engines, which means that they can operate on regular unleaded gasoline, clean-burning E85 ethanol or any combination of the two. A yellow fuel filler cap and an E85 sticker inside the fuel-filler door are your clues. However, because E85 has a lower energy content than gasoline, using it will cause fuel mileage to drop by about 25 percent. The 5.3-liter features active fuel management, a cylinder-deactivation system that shuts down four of the eight cylinders when coasting or under a light load to save fuel at highway speeds. Because of that feature, the larger 5.3-liter has about the same EPA-estimated mileage as the smaller 4.8-liter, in the neighborhood of 14-15 mpg city/19-21 mpg hwy.

Briefly during 2008-2009, the Cadillac Escalade's 6.2-liter V8 with 380-395 hp and variable valve timing was an option on LTZ models, but it was dropped for the 2010 model year. The big attraction of the 6.2-liter engine is its 417 lb-ft of torque, but EPA estimates are a dismal 12 mpg city/19 mpg hwy.

All 2007-2013 Tahoes come standard with an automatic transmission. This is a 4-speed unit on 2007-2008 models with the 4.8-liter and 5.3-liter V8s, and on 2009 4.8-liter Tahoes. A more-efficient 6-speed is used on all later models. All feature tap-up/tap-down gear selection on the column shifter as well as a tow/haul mode that the driver can select for better flexibility and control of transmission shift points when dealing with heavy loads.

A hybrid version of the Tahoe was available beginning in mid-2008. Using an electrically variable transmission, it blends the thrust of a 6.0-liter gas V8 and two 60-kw electric motors for a combined 332 hp. At low speeds, the Tahoe hybrid can operate limited distances on electric power alone. EPA-estimated mileage is 21 mpg city/22 mpg hwy for 2WD models, which is impressive considering the SUV's near 6000-lb curb weight.

In a February 2006 test of a 2007 Tahoe LTZ 4WD model with the 5.3-liter V8 and 4-speed automatic, Car and Driver magazine achieved 8.5-second 0-to-60 miles per hour and 16.5-second 1/4-mile times. Observed fuel economy was just 12 mpg. Subsequently, Car and Driver tested a 2008 Tahoe Hybrid, which netted an 8.2-second 0-to-60 mph time and a 16.3-second 1/4-mile run. Observed fuel economy improved to 19 mpg. Truck Trend magazine also tested a 2007 Tahoe LTZ 4WD model with the 5.3-liter V8 and 4-speed automatic and received 8.6-second 0-to-60 mph and 16.6-second 1/4-mile test results.

Recalls, Safety Ratings and Warranties

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following safety recalls on the 2007-2013 Chevrolet Tahoe.

2007-2009: On models equipped with an optional heated windshield washer system or Hot Shot, a short circuit may overheat the washer system's electronics, which can possibly affect other electrical features and create an odor and smoke. The fix is for the dealer to disable the feature.

2009: Improper sealing may allow water to enter the fuel system control module, which causes hard starting and stalling. The dealer is to replace defective modules.

2011: Defective lock pins in the rear axle can fracture and jam, locking up the rear axle. The dealer is to replace them with new, heat-treated pins.

2011: Loose steering shaft bolts may cause loss of vehicle control. The dealer is to inspect and tighten the bolts.

2013: The interlock device between the steering column and transmission may be faulty. Ignition could be turned off without transmission being put into park, which would allow the vehicle to roll away and crash. The dealer is to inspect and replace faulty steering columns.

In NHTSA testing, all 2007-2013 Chevy Tahoes received the top 5-star rating for driver and passenger front-impact performance as well as side-impact performance. Plus, the big SUV garnered a 3-star rollover rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) did not crash test the 2007-2013 Tahoe, thus there are no ratings for impact performance from the IIHS.

All 2007-2013 Tahoes came with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty with free roadside assistance, a 6-year/100,000-mile corrosion perforation warranty and 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage.

Chevrolet Certified Used SUVs must be five years old or less and have no more than 75,000 miles on the odometer. Each Chevy Tahoe undergoes an 172-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty plus whatever remains on the transferable original 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage. Also included is a new 2-year/30,000-mile maintenance plan and roadside assistance.

Word on the Web

Caranddriver.com heaped praise on the 2007 Tahoe for its handsome interior, rolling quiet, improved brake and steering feel, stiffer structure and overall build quality. It criticized the full-size SUV for its cramped 3-row seat, stingy cargo space behind the third row and long stopping distances.

Pickuptrucks.com gave the 2007-2013 Tahoe the thumbs up for its interior quality, number of seats, towing capacity and good fuel economy relative to other full-size SUVs. It took off points for its less-generous cargo space, and a 3-row seat that doesn't fold flat.

Consumerreports.org ranked the Tahoe average for reliability, but it scored too low in testing for CR to give the full-size SUV a recommended rating. The testing organization gave the Tahoe good marks for towing ability, a compliant ride, good interior quality and comfortable seats. It criticized the truck's lackluster fuel economy and skimpy space behind the tiny 3-row seat, while it dubbed the handling and braking mediocre.

Carcomplaints.com reported high incidents of excessive oil consumption with the 5.3-liter V8, dashboard cracking and frequent "Stabilitrak-is-off" messages on 2007 models.

Competitive Set

Ford Expedition: The base Expedition is slightly larger than the Tahoe and offers more 3-row seat space as well as cargo room, while the extended-wheelbase Expedition EL has people and cargo room rivaling the Chevy Suburban. The Expedition's independent rear suspension rides better than the Tahoe's coil-spring live rear axle. However, EPA fuel economy ratings with the sole available 310-hp 5.4-liter V8 run 1-2 mpg lower than the Tahoe's.

Toyota Sequoia: Toyota's biggest SUV stretches longer than the legendary Land Cruiser. Based on the Tundra full-size pickup, the 8-passenger Sequoia can tow up to 7,400 pounds and now comes standard with trailer sway control. While the standard 310-hp 4.6-liter V8 is ample, the optional 381-hp 5.7-liter V8 delivers entertaining performance. Beginning in 2012, adaptive cruise control is available.

Dodge Durango: A half-size smaller than the Tahoe, Expedition or Sequoia, the Dodge is lighter and more maneuverable, while still offering 7-passenger seating and up to 84.5 cu ft of cargo space. A 2011 redesign resulted in a much sportier-looking truck. Both a 290-hp 3.6-liter V6 and a 360-hp 5.7-liter Hemi V8 are available. New options unavailable on the Tahoe include adaptive cruise control, side blind zone alert and rear cross-path alert. Max tow rating is 7,400 pounds.

Auto Trader Recommendations

We recommend sticking to 2009-or-later Tahoes. This is due to reports of excessive oil consumption and dashboard cracking on 2007 models, and the fact that most 2007-2008 models came with the less-efficient 4-speed automatic transmission and not the more flexible 6-speed unit that began in 2009. The long-term durability of the Tahoe hybrid is a question mark, with expensive battery packs and other electronics not something you'd want to replace off-warranty. As always, stay away from customized trucks with a modified suspension or oversized aftermarket wheels. Due to the high step-in height, running boards are a good idea. Always get a car history report before you buy.

author photo

Lee Ronson started out creating new car product training videos and auto repair manuals, along the way penning for Auto, Gear, Car Craft, Exotic Cars Quarterly, Four Wheeler, Auto Hebdo, Bilsport, Travel/Holiday, Open Road, Chevy High Performance, Sport Auto and more. Today, Lee suits up for vintage car road rallies whenever the opportunity strikes.

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