Comparison Test: 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid vs. 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI

2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid SUV

(6.0L V8 Hybrid 4-speed Automatic)
  • 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class GL320 CDI Picture

    2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class GL320 CDI Picture

    Buying a large SUV isn't going to be a financially savvy choice, regardless of fuel prices and driving habits. But the psychological impact of driving a vehicle that gets 20 mpg instead of 15 can't be denied. | September 15, 2009

38 Photos

  • Comparison Test
  • Top 9 Features
  • Second Opinion
  • Final Rankings and Scoring Explanation
  • 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Specs and Performance
  • 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Specs and Performance

No one's talking about it, but the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI are the two most fuel-efficient full-size SUVs on the market. We guess that makes Paris Hilton, proud owner of a 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid, the hybrid Tahoe's twin, a forward-thinking early adopter at the vanguard of the green car movement.

Truthfully, calling either of these SUVs "green" might border on an insult to the color, not to mention the movement. These are still large, comfortable vehicles with more torque than the average commuter needs and more seats than most families will use, perfect for vacations but decadent in daily life.

But these vehicles are more reasonable when you consider that the four-wheel-drive 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid earns an EPA rating of 20 mpg city/20 mpg highway, and the all-wheel-drive 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI rates 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway. This works out to a combined rating of 20 mpg for both SUVs — a big achievement for a full-size sport-utility.

When it comes to large sport-utilities, think of this as a practicality test for hybrid and diesel. In other words, if you want to drive something big without feeling bad, this is what it's all about.

Why a Chevy Can Compete With a Benz
Brand prejudice says we're making a big mistake comparing a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid to a 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI. Maybe you're saying this, too. But with a base price of $53,295 for the hybrid Tahoe and $53,775 for the diesel GL, the cost difference is all of $480.

Of course, our test Benz vaporizes this illusion of parity because we've had to use a test vehicle that's equipped with more than $15,000 in options, including the $8,600 Premium II Package, which loads it with everything from a navigation system to adaptive bi-xenon headlights. An expensive dual-screen entertainment system ($2,670) and a nice (but not that nice) set of 19-inch wheels ($1,520) chip away at any remaining value until the GL320 CDI tops out at $69,375.

After reviewing the equipment lists of the Tahoe and GL, though, we've decided the game's still on. Put aside the GL320's leather-upholstered dash and power liftgate, and these two SUVs are comparably equipped. Our Tahoe Hybrid has a navigation system, rearview camera, leather upholstery and simulated maple trim as standard. With the optional single-screen entertainment system ($1,295) and sunroof ($995), it costs $55,585 — or $53,385 after you file your 2008 tax return. With the tax credit included, it's about $5,500 more expensive than a comparably equipped regular Tahoe.

And you could order a 2008 Mercedes GL320 CDI for Tahoe Hybrid money without it feeling like basic transportation. You'd just sit on leatherette seats, learn how to read paper maps and listen to All Things Considered through eight speakers instead of 11.

Tahoe Hybrid: One V8, Two Electric Motors and a Whole Lot of Gear Ratios
Money isn't really what separates the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and the Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI anyway. Rather, these full-size SUVs represent two completely different approaches to cutting fuel consumption.

In the case of Chevy's Tahoe Hybrid, it's a "more is more" argument. You start with a 6.0-liter gasoline-fueled V8. Like the 6.2-liter V8 in the Cadillac Escalade and Yukon Denali, this one uses an aluminum block and variable valve timing, and has a fairly tall 10.8:1 compression ratio. It also has GM's Active Fuel Management, which allows it to run on four cylinders while cruising at light throttle loads.

Like most engines involved in hybrid applications, this 6.0-liter V8 runs on the Atkinson cycle, which keeps the intake valves open during part of the compression stroke. This reduces compression volume, improving fuel economy at the expense of power and torque. This also explains why this V8 makes only 332 horsepower at 5,100 rpm and 367 pound-feet of torque at 4,100 rpm — somewhat tame figures for a GM V8 of this displacement.

To help make up for this, the two-mode hybrid gives you a pair of 60-kilowatt electric motors living in the complicated assembly that makes up the transmission. They draw juice from a 300-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery pack packaged under the second-row bench seat.

Electric motors can deliver instant torque response off idle, provided there's an efficient way of getting it to the wheels. And that's where the Tahoe Hybrid's two-mode transmission design comes in. It has three planetary gearsets, which provide the equivalent of two variable forward "gears" (along with a third for reverse). They're used when this SUV's running on electric power alone or (more commonly) on a combination of electricity and gas. As a result, it sometimes feels like you have a continuously variable transmission (CVT) in your Tahoe Hybrid.

When the Tahoe is being propelled by its V8 engine alone — which is most of the time — the transmission performs like a conventional automatic. This element of the transmission has four forward ratios and they're what you notice once you're up to cruising speed. This unusual combination of planetary gearsets and conventional gearing makes it possible to accommodate a true 4WD system with low-range gearing, something no other production hybrid has.

Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI: The Simple Life
It's funny to think that a Mercedes could be less complex than a Chevrolet, but all we're talking about in the GL320 is a turbocharged, intercooled 3.0-liter V6. Of course, it's got ceramic piezo injectors instead of spark plugs, and it has a 16.5:1 compression ratio that would be unthinkable on a gas engine. That's right, we're talking diesel.

An oxidation catalyst and a particulate filter cut down on the soot emissions that make people think diesels are dirty, while pilot injection (a preheating of the combustion chambers using small amounts of fuel before the primary injection) and exhaust gas recirculation minimize the nitrogen oxides (NOx) coming out the back. Still, these measures are only good enough to certify the Benz for sale in 42 U.S. states. It will take the AdBlue urea tank in the otherwise identical 2009 Mercedes-Benz GL320 Bluetec to clean it up for all 50 states.

Like every other member of the Mercedes GL-Class family, the GL320 CDI uses a seven-speed automatic transmission, which drives all four wheels through full-time all-wheel drive. With only a single power source, this seven-speed usually feels smoother and more responsive than the Tahoe's transmission.

Can They Hit the EPA Ratings?
Once we're on the road, we forgive the odd sounds and sensations from the GM hybrid drivetrain when the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid returns 20.1 mpg during our 120-mile city loop — a stop-and-go diet of surface streets in Southern California through Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Although most strong hybrids do their best work in the city, this Tahoe Hybrid proves more fuel-efficient on the highway. We drive at a 70-mph pace on a 130-mile loop from the coastal plain in Santa Monica to the 3,500-foot pass at the crest of the Tehachapi mountains and back, and the Tahoe averages 21.9 mpg.

This makes sense when you understand the thinking behind GM's hybrid system. It's not so much about electric-only operation, as in the Toyota Prius. Rather the electric motors allow the V8 to stay in its Active Fuel Management V4 mode for longer periods than it might in a regular Chevy Tahoe, and the transmission picks ratios accordingly.

Since we're avoiding rapid acceleration and using cruise control whenever possible on the highway loop, there are fewer changes in throttle position than in city driving — which makes life easier for the transmission.

Our 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI gets 26 mpg on the highway loop, which is a superb figure for a large SUV but not altogether surprising since the diesel carries a 24-mpg EPA highway estimate.

Harder to explain is the Benz's 22.1-mpg average on the city loop, a clear advantage over the Tahoe.

Partly, this might be due to one of the little discussed advantages of the diesel engine. That is, it doesn't require a conventional throttle. Basically, a diesel draws in the same amount of air on every stroke. So during city driving, the Benz turbodiesel V6 gets lots of air even though only small amounts of fuel are being injected. In contrast, a gasoline engine might as well be sucking air through a straw under light acceleration, and this creates more friction, resulting in pumping losses and poorer fuel economy.

However, we suspect lower curb weight is the primary reason for the GL320's mileage advantage. At 5,500 pounds, it's hardly svelte, but the Tahoe Hybrid weighs a monumentally chubby 5,900 pounds.

Equals in a Contest of Speed
In spite of its bulk, the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid forces itself through space with a haste that's comparable to the Mercedes GL. Both SUVs have some off-the-line snap, though neither is particularly exciting when you floor the gas pedal.

At our test track, the Tahoe Hybrid and GL320 CDI hit 60 mph in 8.8 seconds and stay right with each other through the quarter-mile at 16.4 seconds. The Chevy is moving at 86.8 mph at this point, 0.3 mph faster than the Benz.

For perspective, these numbers are on par with a normal Tahoe, which weighs 400 pounds less. Our long-term '07 Tahoe ran to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds and completed the quarter-mile in 16.4 seconds at 85.3 mph. Mercedes doesn't offer a gasoline V6 in the GL-Class line, and as you'd expect, the V8-equipped GL450 is significantly quicker than the diesel, reaching 60 mph in 6.7 seconds and completing the quarter-mile in 15.1 seconds at 91.6 mph.

Although acceleration is a draw, the GL320 can tow more. With its optional $510 tow package, it has a 7,500-pound tow rating compared to a 6,000-pound limit for the Tahoe.

The Agile Benz Pulls Ahead
Start going around corners and the Tahoe Hybrid's 3 tons are harder to hide. GM's hybrid SUV behaves predictably and its steering is surprisingly precise, but it turns in very slowly and braking effort is considerable, even though it stops from 60 mph in a respectable 134 feet, the same distance as our long-term '07 Tahoe.

Hop into the diesel GL and you realize the benefit of not only fewer pounds, but also of unibody construction and four-wheel independent suspension. In fact, the Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI handles phenomenally well for a full-size SUV. Its 60.0-mph speed through our test slalom is the best number we've ever gotten out of a full-size SUV. Compare this to the Tahoe Hybrid's 57.5 mph.

Although the skid-pad numbers are close for these sumo-size SUVs — 0.73g for the Mercedes and 0.69g for the Chevy — the margin would be even more in the GL's favor if you could disable the Benz's stability control.

As on the Tahoe, the GL's brake pedal initially feels soft. As you get into its travel, though, the braking action progressively gets stronger. More important, the GL's braking distances are shorter, as the Mercedes stops from 60 mph in 123 feet.

The Germans Know You Better Than You Think
Although the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid has more hip- and shoulder room in the first two seating rows (as well as more storage space), the 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI is the better packaged vehicle if you're going to use all three rows. Its independent rear suspension allows a lower floor and a more comfortable, higher-mounted third-row bench. Plus, that bench can fold away into the floor, improving cargo capacity.

The ergonomics of the driving position are acceptable in both SUVs, but the Tahoe has an edge here, as its touchscreen navigation interface is easier to use than the GL320's setup, which is the previous generation of the Mercedes-Benz controller-operated COMAND setup.

Diesel Wins This Round
Although the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is more versatile than earlier hybrid SUVs like the Ford Escape and Lexus RX 400h and feels more normal to drive (vastly so, in fact), we prefer the 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI, which feels like even less of a compromise.

The diesel GL also handles and stops better, while offering superior seat comfort and utility. And with its combined fuel-economy average of 23.9 mpg offering a substantial margin over the Tahoe's 20.9 mpg, the Benz easily wins our fuel-economy test, too.

Of course a comparison of fuel prices equalizes the game a little. During this test, we pay $3.579 per gallon for the Chevy's 87-octane gas, while the Benz's diesel costs us $4.179 per gallon. But because of the GL320's lower fuel consumption, we actually spent only a dollar more overall to fill its tank at the end of our test.

Availability is likely to be the bigger issue with both of these vehicles, however.

Until the Bluetec versions arrive this fall, getting your hands on a GL320, or any other diesel Mercedes SUV, is impossible in big states like California and New York. Curiously, buying a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid might not be much easier, unless you're Paris Hilton. GM says it has capacity to build 8,000-12,000 Tahoe/Yukon Hybrids this year, but we hear only 655 were sold in the first quarter of 2008. For now, you're more likely to see these SUVs in Mother Jones ads than on the road.

Nevertheless, this test offers reason for optimism. If these heavyweights can break 20 mpg, the same is true for all the seven-passenger crossovers out there. So let's keep the hybrid-versus-diesel battle going. It's our Obama vs. Clinton, and the longer it lasts, the better off we'll be.

The manufacturers provided Edmunds these vehicles for the purposes of evaluation.

It's impossible to get everything you want in a vehicle, but a fully equipped full-size SUV should come pretty close. The 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is missing some key items. The 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI is a little better outfitted, but Mercedes will nickel-and-dime you to death on the options list.

The scoring of features is based upon whether a test vehicle has been equipped with a particular feature as standard, optional and included in our as-tested price, optional but not included, or the feature is not available at all on that particular model.

Features

Features
2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG
Back-up camera S O
Fold-flat third-row seat N/A S
Front-seat side airbags N/A S
Height-adjustable suspension N/A S
Low-range transfer case S N/A
Navigation system S O
Spare tire N/A S
Telescoping steering wheel N/A S
Trailer hitch S O

Key:
S: Standard
O: Optional
N/A: Not Available

Back-up camera: This is a critical safety feature on a vehicle this large. It's standard on the Tahoe Hybrid; you pay extra on the GL320 CDI.

Fold-flat third-row seat: Having to remove and store third-row seats has become unacceptable in family-oriented SUVs. But somehow we're still doing it in the Tahoe.

Front-seat side airbags: If you're spending more than $50K on transportation, you better be getting every single type of airbag, and the Tahoe skimps here.

Height-adjustable suspension: This feature gives the Mercedes a much better chance of surviving a trip down a dirt road.

Low-range transfer case: Real SUVs should still be available with real 4WD systems, even if it's an option.

Navigation system: With the impressive fuel range in these vehicles, chances are you'll drive far enough from home to get lost. Mercedes charges you extra for a nav system, and it's the old COMAND setup to boot.

Spare tire: Saving weight is not a good justification for deleting the Tahoe Hybrid's spare tire. If you tear a sidewall in a remote area, you'll be walking out of there.

Telescoping steering wheel: Finding a good driving position in an enormous vehicle is important for safety. The Tahoe Hybrid forces you to compromise here.

Trailer hitch: You shouldn't be buying a full-size SUV if you're never going to tow. So Mercedes shouldn't be selling one without a standard trailer hitch.

Automotive Editor John DiPietro says:
This is one of those instances where I'd take a base model of one vehicle over a loaded version of another. Meaning, I'd take a GL320 CDI without the navigation, premium audio system and DVD player. To me, things like solid driving dynamics and a truly luxurious cabin count for more than gee-whiz features. Besides, as long as I've got A/C, power windows, a CD player and my portable nav system, I'm good to go. Hold that — with these bruisers, there's one other feature I'd like to have — reverse parking assist. I wonder if Best Buy carries it.

To elaborate, the Benz was just more comfortable for me to drive. Even though it's certainly large, I didn't feel like I was taking up the whole road, whereas with the Tahoe I did. Furthermore, the GL's steering and overall composure was just more confidence-inspiring — with vehicles this big, I prefer steering with some heft in the wheel and a more solid on-center feel. I also like the Benz's power delivery, and a turbodiesel's potent low and midrange grunt is a natural match for a heavy rig like this. And it got better fuel mileage.

Mind you, I wouldn't have trouble recommending the Tahoe. The Chevy has a nice ride, decent handling, plenty of power and respectable fuel mileage, and comes with everything anyone could want. It's just that my priorities are different from those of most consumers. I'll trade some luxury features for a better driving experience any day.

Final Rankings

Final Rankings
Item Weight 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
Personal Rating 2.5% 83.3 66.7
Recommended Rating 2.5% 83.3 66.7
Feature Content 15% 74.1 44.4
Evaluation Score 20% 82.7 78.5
Fuel economy 20% 100.0 87.4
Performance 20% 99.8 88.8
Price 20% 75.2 100.0
Total Score 100.0% 86.8 80.9
Final Ranking 1 2

Personal Rating (2.5%): Purely subjective. After the test, each participating editor was asked to rank the SUVs in order of preference based on which he or she would buy if money were no object.

Recommended Rating (2.5%): After the test, each participating editor was asked to rank the SUVs in order of preference based on which he or she thought would be best for the average consumer shopping in this segment.

Feature Content (15%): For this category, the editors picked the top 9 features they thought would be most beneficial to the consumer shopping for a full-size SUV, regardless of drivetrain type. For each vehicle, the score was based on the number of actual features it had versus the total possible. Standard and optional equipment were taken into consideration.

28-Point Evaluation (20%): Each participating editor ranked each SUV based on a comprehensive 28-point evaluation. The evaluation covered everything from exterior design to cupholders. Scoring was calculated on a point system, and the scores listed are averages based on all test participants' evaluations.

Fuel Economy (20%): Points were earned for fuel economy based on a percentage calculation in which the SUV with the best fuel economy from the two combined driving loops (55 percent city plus 45 percent highway) earned 100 points. Second-place points were awarded proportionally based on how well the other SUV did relative to the winner.

Performance Testing (20%): Both SUVs were put through a comprehensive battery of instrumented tests, including 0-60-mph acceleration, quarter-mile runs and panic stops from 60 mph. They were also run through a 600-foot slalom course to test transitional handling, and around a skid pad to determine ultimate grip. The vehicles were awarded points based on how close they came to the best performing vehicle's score in each category.

Price (20%): The numbers listed were the result of a simple percentage calculation based on the least expensive vehicle. Using the "as-tested" prices of the actual evaluation vehicles, the less expensive SUV received a score of 100, with the remaining vehicle receiving a lower score.

Vehicle
Model year2008
MakeMercedes-Benz
ModelGL-Class
StyleGL320 CDI 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbodiesel 7A)
Base MSRP$54,775
Options on test vehiclePremium II Package ($8,600 -- includes navigation system with back-up camera, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, seat memory, Harman Kardon Logic 7 sound system, satellite radio, tri-zone climate control, power liftgate and adaptive bi-xenon headlights), Dual-Screen Rear Entertainment System ($2,670), Full Leather Seating Package ($2,100), 19-inch wheels ($1,520), Metallic Paint ($710)
As-tested MSRP$69,375
Drivetrain
Drive typeAll-wheel drive
Engine typeTurbocharged and intercooled diesel V6
Displacement (cc/cu-in)2,987cc (182 cu-in)
Block/head materialAluminum / Aluminum
ValvetrainDouble overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder
Compression ratio (x:1)16.5:1
Redline (rpm)4,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)215 @ 4,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)398 @ 1,600
Transmission type7-speed automatic
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)I = 4.38, II = 2.86, III = 1.92, IV = 1.37, V = 1.00, VI = 0.82, VII = 0.73, R = 3.42, Final Drive = 3.45
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent double wishbone
Suspension, rearIndependent multilink
Steering typeSpeed-proportional power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)18.6:1
Tire brandContinental
Tire model4x4 Contact
Tire typeAll season
Tire size, front275/55R19 111H M+S
Tire size, rear275/55R19 111H M+S
Wheel size19 by 8.5 front and rear
Wheel materialAlloy
Brakes, frontVentilated disc
Brakes, rearVentilated disc
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)5.8
0-60 mph (sec.)8.8
0-75 mph (sec.)12.8
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)16.4 @ 86.5
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)8.5
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)31
60-0 mph (ft.)123
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)60
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.73
Sound level @ idle (dB)46.1
@ Full throttle (dB)71.3
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)65.8
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsI brought the revs up to 2,000 and released the brake. I could feel the ample torque in the midrange, but it's a little short-lived. Upshifts are smooth, but not particularly fast.
Braking ratingVery Good
Braking commentsVery impressed with the power and feel of these brakes. The jump-in is a little steep for a large SUV, but easy to learn. Almost no ABS flutter or hum, while GL pitches only slightly.
Handling ratingVery Good
Handling commentsSlalom: Something this size (and mass) shouldn't be able to go through the slalom so easily. I'm impressed with its crisp turn-in, neutral balance and precise steering. It feels much smaller than it is. Despite all this, ESP is the limiting factor. Skid pad: The GL circles the skid pad on the threshold of understeer, where ESP begins to brake one wheel. Steering is light but communicative.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)1121
Temperature (F)64.5
Wind (mph, direction)1.1
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)18 city/24 highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)21.4 for test duration (23.9 for fuel economy test)
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)26.4
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)5,313
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)5,523
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)50/50
Length (in.)200.6
Width (in.)75.6
Height (in.)72.4
Wheelbase (in.)121.1
Track, front (in.)65
Track, rear (in.)65.1
Turning circle (ft.)39.7
Legroom, front (in.)40.3
Legroom, rear (in.)39.5
Legroom, 3rd row (in.)34.2
Headroom, front (in.)40.1
Headroom, rear (in.)40.6
Headroom, 3rd row (in.)38.2
Shoulder room, front (in.)58.4
Shoulder room, rear (in.)58.9
Shoulder room, 3rd row (in.)50.5
Seating capacity7
Cargo volume (cu-ft)14.3
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)83.3
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain4 years/50,000 miles
Corrosion4 years/50,000 miles
Roadside assistanceUnlimited
Free scheduled maintenanceNone (save for complimentary 3,000-mile service visit)
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard dual front and dual rear
Head airbagsStandard front, rear and third row
Knee airbagsNot available
Antilock brakes4-wheel ABS
Electronic brake enhancementsBrake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionStandard
Tire-pressure monitoring systemTire pressure monitoring
Emergency assistance systemNot available
NHTSA crash test, driverNot tested
NHTSA crash test, passengerNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side frontNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side rearNot tested
NHTSA rollover resistanceNot tested
Vehicle
Model year2008
MakeChevrolet
ModelTahoe Hybrid
Style4dr SUV 4WD (6.0L 8cyl gas-electric hybrid 4A)
Base MSRP$53,295
Options on test vehicleRear DVD Entertainment System ($1,295), Sunroof ($995)
As-tested MSRP$55,585
Drivetrain
Drive typeFour-wheel drive
Engine typeV8
Displacement (cc/cu-in)5,967cc (364 cu-in)
Block/head materialAluminum / Aluminum
ValvetrainOverhead valve, 2 valves per cylinder, variable intake valve timing
Compression ratio (x:1)10.8:1
Redline (rpm)6,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)332 @ 5,100
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)367 @ 4,100
Transmission type4-speed automatic
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)Electronically variable ratios: EVT1 = infinite-1.70, EVT2 = 1.70--0.50, R = infinite-1.70; Mechanically fixed ratios: I = 3.69, II = 1.70, III = 1.00, IV = 0.73; Final Drive = 3.08
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent short and long arm
Suspension, rearMultilink live axle
Steering typeElectric speed-proportional power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)17.8:1
Tire brandBridgestone
Tire modelDueler H/T 684 II
Tire typeAll-season
Tire size, frontP265/65R18 112S M+S
Tire size, rearP265/65R18 112S M+S
Wheel size18 by 8.0 front -- 18 by 8.0 rear
Wheel materialCast alloy
Brakes, frontVentilated disc
Brakes, rearVentilated disc
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)5.8
0-60 mph (sec.)8.8
0-75 mph (sec.)12.7
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)16.4 @ 86.8
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)8.5
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)33
60-0 mph (ft.)134
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)57.5
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.69
Sound level @ idle (dB)42.2
@ Full throttle (dB)74.3
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)65
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsDespite a CVT-like transmission, the Tahoe's revs climb rapidly to 5,000 rpm (as if in 1st gear) and then drop to about 4,000 rpm for the remainder of the quarter-mile. The engine sounds annoyed throughout.
Braking ratingGood
Braking commentsMedium-soft pedal goes hard at the end of travel. I could hear the tires howl and feel them hunt for traction. Also, the weighty job of stopping this 6,000-pound Tahoe is obvious.
Handling ratingAverage
Handling commentsSlalom: With StabiliTrak off, I did the first few runs in rear-wheel drive (2WD) and found it felt like slaloming a limo with slow-mo oversteer. Switched to "Auto 4WD" and was able to quell the oversteer somewhat. Still, this thing feels heavy, ponderous and out of its element in any handling test. Steering is numb but rather precise. Skid pad: Heavy, tire-torturing understeer right on the threshold. StabiliTrak can be shut off completely. Steering feels a little springlike, with little feel.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)1121
Temperature (F)58.2
Wind (mph, direction)0
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)20 city/20 highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)17.6 for test duration (20.9 for fuel economy test)
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)24.5
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)5,835
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)5,909
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)50.7/49.3
Length (in.)202
Width (in.)79
Height (in.)74.8
Wheelbase (in.)116
Track, front (in.)68.2
Track, rear (in.)67
Turning circle (ft.)39
Legroom, front (in.)41.3
Legroom, rear (in.)39
Legroom, 3rd row (in.)25.6
Headroom, front (in.)41.1
Headroom, rear (in.)34.1
Headroom, 3rd row (in.)37.9
Shoulder room, front (in.)65.3
Shoulder room, rear (in.)65.3
Shoulder room, 3rd row (in.)61.7
Seating capacity8
Cargo volume (cu-ft)16.9
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)108.9
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/100,000 miles
Corrosion6 years/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance5 years/100,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenanceNot available
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsNot available
Head airbagsStandard front, rear and third row
Knee airbagsNot available
Antilock brakes4-wheel ABS
Electronic brake enhancementsElectronic brakeforce distribution
Traction controlNot available
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionStandard
Tire-pressure monitoring systemTire pressure monitoring
Emergency assistance systemNot available
NHTSA crash test, driver5 stars
NHTSA crash test, passenger5 stars
NHTSA crash test, side front5 stars
NHTSA crash test, side rear5 stars
NHTSA rollover resistanceNot tested
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