Full 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe Review
What's New for 2014
In the final model year before a new generation of Chevrolet full-size SUVs is launched, the base 2014 Tahoe LS gets some added standard equipment, including power-adjustable pedals, remote ignition, a rearview camera and rear parking sensors.
If you're shopping for a utility vehicle primarily to haul around people, a crossover is the obvious choice. However, if you want a vehicle that can handle several passengers but also tow a boat or camper, you're probably going to need a traditional full-size SUV designed for heavier-duty use. And few SUVs offer more value and versatility than the 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe.
With the Tahoe, all the bases are covered: You get three rows of seats and accommodations for as many as nine, combined with big-time towing capability that no crossover can offer. And it all comes with a comfy and spacious, if not particularly opulent, interior that, like the exterior of the Tahoe, gets the job done without an excess of flash.
Yes, the Tahoe's a true truck underneath, but over the years, Chevrolet has made sure it has kept up with customers' expectations for refinement and everyday ease of use. Without question, this is a large, heavy vehicle that's more at home on rural roads than crowded city streets, but thanks to its quiet interior and comfortable ride, driving a Chevy Tahoe is actually pretty pleasant. Inside, there are good-quality materials, modern controls and a mostly up-to-date suite of electronics. Our major complaint about the interior is the third-row seats' lack of fold-flat capability: You have to remove them and store them in your garage when you need more room.
Of course, if you don't really need the 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe's towing capabilities, though, you'll find that lighter-duty crossovers probably are easier to live with day to day and more fuel-efficient. One of the species' best is in Chevy's own showroom in the form of the eight-passenger 2014 Traverse, and it actually offers more cargo capacity -- 116.3 cubic feet versus 108.9 in the Tahoe.
Other options in the full-size SUV realm include the 2014 Toyota Sequoia, which offers a very similar blend of functionality, performance and refinement and the 2014 Ford Expedition, which isn't as quick as the others, but is still worth a look for its overall package. You should also keep in mind that a redesigned Chevrolet Tahoe arrives for the 2015 model year, and among its many upgrades will be a more powerful and efficient V8 engine and a stow-away third-row seat. If you're set on buying a large, traditional SUV before then, though, the current Chevy Tahoe remains a likable, do-anything utility vehicle that won't sell you short on everyday comfort.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe is available in three trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ. Seating for eight is standard, but there are two optional seating arrangements: second-row captain's chairs drop the count to seven and an available 40/20/40 front bench seat increases it to nine.
The base Tahoe LS comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, tri-zone manual climate control, six-way power front seats (with driver lumbar adjustment), power-adjustable pedals, a 60/40-split second-row seat and 50/50-split removable third-row seat. Also standard are a remote ignition, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, OnStar and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, rear audio controls, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface. If you want nine-passenger capacity, you'll need to get the LS, as the front bench seat is only available on this trim level.
Chevy Tahoe LT models add foglights, a locking rear differential, tri-zone automatic climate control, driver memory functions, leather upholstery and a nine-speaker Bose sound system. Available options for the LT include second-row captain's chairs and a Luxury package with heated front and second-row seats (with power release), power-folding mirrors and a power rear liftgate. An optional Z71 Off-Road package adds specially tuned springs and shocks, 18-inch alloy wheels with all-terrain tires, skid plates and unique front and rear fascias.
In LTZ trim, the 2014 Tahoe includes the LT Luxury package content with the captain's chairs as standard equipment and adds 20-inch wheels, an upgraded adaptive suspension (with load leveling in the rear), heated and ventilated 12-way power front seats, a heated steering wheel, power flip-and-fold second-row seats, a navigation system, a blind-spot warning system and a 10-speaker Bose audio system with digital music storage. The second-row split bench seat is still optional. Power-retractable assist steps are optional on the LTZ.
Optional on the LT and LTZ is the Sun, Entertainment and Destinations package, which includes a sunroof and a rear-seat entertainment system. On the LT, it also includes the navigation system. A trailering package, an integrated trailer brake controller and a variety of 20- and 22-inch wheels also are optional for the 2014 Tahoe.
Powertrains and Performance
All 2014 Chevrolet Tahoes come with a 5.3-liter V8 generating 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission transmits power through the rear wheels on 2WD models or all four wheels on 4WD models. The 4WD Tahoe is offered with a choice of either a traditional two-speed transfer case or a single-speed unit without low-range gearing (not available on LTZ). A locking rear differential is standard for the Tahoe's two upper trims and is optional for the Tahoe LS.
In Edmunds testing, a Tahoe hit 60 mph in about 8.5 seconds -- average for a full-size SUV. EPA-estimated fuel economy is respectable for a full-size SUV at 17 mpg combined (15 mpg city/21 mpg highway). A properly equipped Tahoe can tow up to 8,500 pounds.
Standard safety equipment on the 2014 Chevy Tahoe includes antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation. Rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are now standard on every Tahoe, while the Tahoe LTZ comes with a blind-spot warning system.
In government crash safety tests, the Tahoe earned an overall rating of four stars out of five, with five stars for overall frontal-impact crash protection and five stars for overall side-impact crash protection. In Edmunds brake testing, a Tahoe came to a stop from 60 mph in 134 feet, an average distance for a vehicle in this class.
Interior Design and Special Features
There are no surprises inside the 2014 Tahoe, where a straightforward gauge cluster and dash layout features two big central gauges flanked by simple secondary gauges that are useful and important for those using this SUV to its fullest. The overly large, column-mounted gearshift seems a little dated, as does the absence of a telescoping steering wheel (although the standard power-adjustable pedals partially compensate for this). Smartphone users will also notice there's no ability to stream music, as the Tahoe's Bluetooth connection allows only phone calls.
The Tahoe's front seats and optional second-row captain's chairs are wide and supportive enough for long road trips. The Chevy is also one of the few full-size SUVs to offer the availability of a front bench seat, although only for the base LS trim. If you don't need seating for nine, we'd recommend stepping up to the midlevel LT, as it comes with attractive leather upholstery. The assembly quality in all Tahoes is generally good, too.
Unlike many of its rivals, the Chevrolet Tahoe lacks a convenient flat-folding third-row seat. The 50/50 split rear bench seat is heavy and awkward to remove, and rather inconvenient if you're away from home with nowhere to put the seat. With the third row removed and the second-row seats folded, there's a commendable 109 cubic feet of cargo space. With all seats in place, there are 17 cubic feet -- enough for a few bags of groceries.
One luxury that continues for those buying a full-size SUV is standard V8 power, and the 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe's 5.3-liter V8 engine is beefy enough to pull around a full complement of passengers and gear, yet plenty smooth and quiet. The standard six-speed automatic transmission gets the most out of the V8 and rarely lets you know it's there -- which is really all most people want from an automatic transmission.
The Tahoe's powertrain refinement is generally matched by its straightforward suspension, which absorbs most bumps and ruts without losing its composure and helps keep the big SUV steady around turns. The steering isn't exactly sports-car-responsive, but the 2014 Tahoe isn't too hard to maneuver in tight spaces, owing to its relatively compact 39-foot turning circle.
If you're considering the Tahoe for frequent towing duty, we recommend the LTZ model, whose upgraded Autoride suspension features adaptive damping and air-assisted load leveling, which can be a real help when towing heavy loads.