Most midsize and smaller SUVs have switched to more carlike unibody construction in pursuit of improved ride quality, driving experience and efficiency. But for large SUVs, truck-based body-on-frame construction is still king. The 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe demonstrates some of the strengths of this approach, but it also has quite a few shortcomings.
On the upside, the Tahoe boasts a stout towing capacity — up to 8,600 pounds — for pulling boats, campers and the like. There's plenty of power, too. A 355-horsepower V8 is standard, and an optional 420-hp V8 is new this year. A nicely appointed cabin — easy to use and to climb into and out of — is another of the Tahoe's strengths. We also like the quiet ride and robust air conditioning, which is more than a match for the large interior space.
However, the Tahoe's sluggish driving experience, along with the peculiarities of its compromised cargo space, are weaknesses not shared by most unibody SUVs. Chevrolet's efforts to improve the Tahoe's efficiency also compromise its usefulness off-road, particularly the low front air dam that limits ground clearance. Buyers looking to do anything but the mildest off-roading would be well-advised to opt for the Tahoe's Z71 package.
Buyers looking for large SUVs don't have many choices. The Ford Expedition has received some major updates, and its latest model promises lots of space and capability. There's also the Toyota Sequoia, an affordable alternative with superior cargo and passenger space. And if you don't plan on towing much, crossovers such as the Honda Pilot and Volkswagen Atlas offer plenty of room for three rows of adults to travel in comfort, and lots of technology tricks to boot.
trim levels & features
The 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe is a large three-row SUV that comes in three trim levels: LS, LT and Premier. All trim levels come standard with a 5.3-liter V8 engine (355 hp and 383 pound-feet of torque), a six-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive and a single-speed transfer case are available for all trim levels. Seating for eight is standard; an optional 40/20/40-split middle-row bench seat increases passenger capacity to nine, but it is only available on the base LS trim.
Standard features for the LS include 18-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, automatic wipers, remote keyless entry, remote ignition, rear parking sensors, a trailer hitch receiver with wiring harness, side steps and roof rails. On the inside, you get tri-zone automatic climate control, a 10-way power-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding second- and third-row bench seats and a tilt-only, leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Standard tech for the LS includes a teen-driver monitoring system, OnStar communication (including a 4G LTE connection and a Wi-Fi hotspot), a 110-volt power outlet, Chevy's MyLink infotainment system (with 8-inch touchscreen), a rearview camera, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, five USB ports, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and satellite radio.
The optional Enhanced Driver Alert package adds forward collision warning with low-speed automatic braking, automatic high beams, lane departure warning and intervention, and power-adjustable pedals.
The LT trim includes all of the above, along with a power liftgate, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a 10-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, a telescoping steering wheel, driver-seat memory functions, an auto-dimming rearview camera, a universal garage door opener and a nine-speaker Bose audio system.
The optional Luxury package adds a hands-free tailgate opener, power-folding mirrors, an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, foglights, front parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, keyless entry and ignition, heated second-row seats, power-folding second- and third-row seats, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with heating, and a wireless charging pad. The Texas Edition package is equipped identically (minus the charging pad) but adds unique badging and crossbars to the roof rails.
The Premier trim includes the Luxury package and adds 20-inch wheels, xenon headlights, adaptive suspension dampers, ventilated front seats, second-row bucket seats (reducing seating capacity to seven), a navigation system, 12-way power front seats and a 10-speaker Bose premium surround-sound upgrade.
The LT and Premier trims are eligible for the Sun, Entertainment and Destinations package that includes a sunroof, navigation for the LT trim and a rear-seat entertainment system. Adaptive cruise control, power-retractable side steps and a head-up display are also available on the Premier trim.
New for 2018 are the RST Edition and RST Performance Edition packages. The RST Edition is an appearance package for the LT and Premier trims that adds blacked-out exterior pieces such as wheels and badging. The RST Performance Edition, available only on the Tahoe Premier, adds a 6.2-liter V8 (420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque), a 10-speed automatic transmission, a trailer brake controller, a sport-tuned suspension and, on four-wheel-drive models, a two-speed transfer case.
Offered on all trims are 22-inch wheels as well as the Max Trailering package that includes a different rear axle ratio, an electronic two-speed transfer case (on 4WD models), a trailer brake controller, and an auto-leveling suspension for vehicles without the magnetic suspension. The Z71 Off-Road package is available only on the LT trim and adds all-terrain tires, unique cosmetic elements, tubular side steps, underbody skid plates, an off-road suspension, an electronic two-speed transfer case, hill descent control, front parking sensors and rubber floor mats.
Many features offered on higher-trim models are available on supporting trims as options.
noise & vibration
ease of use
getting in/getting out
child safety seat accomodation
audio & navigation
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.