The 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe continues the tradition set down by its 4-wheeled forefathers but adds a new level of refinement and luxury that elevates the entire Chevrolet brand. Long a best seller, the Tahoe is a favorite with American families because of its tough construction, massive interior space and powerful V8 engine, the latter allowing it to tow far greater loads than any car-based crossover.

Chevrolet has given the new Tahoe a solid, rugged exterior with subtle hints of modern design while simultaneously shunning the tendency to add too many chrome embellishments or tacky body side cladding. Inside, more colors and soft-touch materials form a thoroughly modern dash and center console, and the new MyLink color touchscreen is one of the brightest and most user-friendly infotainment systems we've experienced. Less thrilling is the raised cargo floor, designed to accommodate the fold-flat rear seats. It lessens cargo room vertically and increases the lift-over height when loading.

Although the Tahoe shares its platform and mechanicals with the GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade, it is designed to be the most affordable of the trio. With a base price starting around $45,000, however, we think a lot of families may be priced out of the Tahoe and forced to look at less expensive competitors such as the Nissan Armada.

What's New for 2015?

The Chevrolet Tahoe gets a complete overhaul this year, with a new exterior, a new interior, more features and improvements to the vehicle's suspension and engine.

What We Like

Handsome styling; good highway fuel economy; luxurious interior; user-friendly MyLink infotainment

What We Don't

Third-row seats fold flat but not flush into the floor; expensive for the average family; tow ratings not as good as Ford and Nissan SUVs

How Much?

$45,595-$72,380

Fuel Economy

The standard engine for the Chevrolet Tahoe is a 5.3-liter V8, good for 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. Coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission, this engine achieves 16 miles per gallon in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Opt for the 4-wheel-drive (4WD) option and the mileage is nearly identical at 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The Chevrolet Tahoe comes in three trims: LS, LT and LTZ. All three can be outfitted with 4WD.

The Tahoe LS ($45,595) includes a 5.3-liter V8 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, rear park assist, OnStar, an AM/FM/CD radio with HD Radio and SiriusXM, side assist steps, heated outside mirrors, 18-inch alloy wheels, a luggage rack, Bluetooth hands-free cell-phone connectivity, tri-zone automatic climate control, front bucket seats (can be substituted for a 40/20/40-split bench at no extra cost), a 10-way power driver's seat, a power passenger seat with power lumbar and recline, steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, a tilt steering wheel, a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

The Tahoe LT ($50,995) adds forward-collision alert, a heavy-duty locking rear differential, a power rear lift gate, MyLink infotainment with an 8-in color touchscreen and five USB ports, Bose premium audio with nine speakers, leather seating, heated front seats, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, lane-departure warning and power-adjustable pedals with memory for driver's seat and pedal placement.

The Tahoe LTZ ($59,995) adds magnetic ride control, keyless entry and access with push-button start, front and rear park assist, power-folding outside mirrors with memory function, 20-in polished aluminum wheels, HID headlights, fog lights, a Bose Centerpoint surround-sound 10-speaker audio system, heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row seats, power-release second-row seats, remote start, power-folding third-row seats, a power tilt-telescopic and heated steering wheel, rear cross-traffic alert and side blind-zone alert with lane-change alert.

4WD adds about $3,000 to the bottom line of each trim.

Option packages for the LS include the Driver Alert Package (forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, a safety-alert seat warning system and power adjustable pedals), 20-in wheels and a dealer-installed rear-seat entertainment system.

The LT can be equipped with much of the LTZ's standard equipment when ordered with the Luxury Package (blind spot alert, keyless entry and push-button start, a power-folding third-row seat, power-folding outside mirrors, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel and a power tilt-telescopic steering column). The Sun, Entertainment and Destination Package adds a power glass moon roof, navigation and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. Navigation, the power glass moon roof, second-row bucket-style seating and rear-seat entertainment can also be ordered as stand-alone features. The LTZ offers only a few options, including a power glass moon roof, navigation, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, power retractable side steps and adaptive cruise control.

Safety

The Tahoe carries a full complement of airbags, including front-seat side-impact and full-length side-curtain airbags. Also standard is the segment's only front-seat center-mounted airbag (models with bucket seats only), which provides greater protection to the driver and passenger in the event of a side-impact collision. Additional safety equipment includes electronic monitors to warn of items in front of and behind the vehicle, approaching cross traffic when backing up and a radar-based forward-collision warning system.

To date, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has performed crash tests on the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe.

Behind the Wheel

During our extended seat time behind the Tahoe's wheel, we experienced a full-size SUV that handled remarkably well. The steering is precise, with just enough assist to allow easy maneuvers without creating a numb response on twisting back roads. The Tahoe is extremely quiet inside, and its ride is comfortable and controlled. Along our route, we were unfortunate enough to drive into one of the worst blizzards of 2014. Thankfully, the Tahoe's 4WD and numerous electronic driver aids helped us survive nature's wrath and renewed our faith in GM's excellent StabiliTrak stability control system. We were also mildly amused at the clever driver-alert seat that vibrates on either side to warn of objects nearing the vehicle.

Our fully loaded LTZ trim included magnetic ride control, the same system used on such premium GM performance cars as the Corvette and CTS-V. Magnetic ride control can change shock-absorber dampening in milliseconds, responding to changing road conditions and helping to keep the ride stable and controlled at all times. Other than confined city driving, which can be a bit challenging given the Tahoe's size, we found most driving situations to be quite comfortable and drama-free. We were also impressed by our Tahoe's 22 mpg highway fuel economy figure.

For those who need to tow, the Tahoe is rated at up to 8,500 pounds with 2WD and 8,200 with 4WD.

Other Cars to Consider

Nissan Armada -- The Armada starts at about $5,000 less than the Tahoe and has a 9,000-pound tow rating. On the flip side, the Armada's engine isn't as powerful as the Tahoe's, and its fuel economy is much worse.

Ford Expedition -- The Expedition is easily the Tahoe's equal for size and passenger space, but Ford's big SUV can tow more, costs about $2,000 less and has a flush-folding rear seat for improved cargo room and easy loading.

Chevrolet Traverse -- The Traverse can't tow as much as the Tahoe, but its interior is surprisingly roomy and can hold up to eight passengers. The Traverse also rides and handles more like a car, is easy to park and maneuver and gets better gas mileage. Oh, and its starting price is about $15,000 less than the Tahoe.

AutoTrader's Advice

In this Goldilocks scenario, we'd pick the middle LT trim as the best choice. It offers more than enough amenities and can be loaded up with many of the LTZ's standard features should you decide more is better. Those who must deal with winter's worst on an annual basis would be well-advised to get 4WD.

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