2022 Chevrolet Tahoe: What's It Like to Live With?
In an expanding world of midsize SUVs, where does the full-size Tahoe fit in? We have 20,000 miles to decide.
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Latest Highlights (updated 09/13/23)
- Sometimes the best three-row isn't a minivan
- Sometimes it isn't a midsize crossover either
- The full-size SUV still has a place in the family-hauler market
- We bought a Tahoe to remind shoppers of what it brings to the table
- And we took it camping to break it in
What We Bought And Why
• Our test vehicle: 2022 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 4x4
• Base MSRP: $63,000
• MSRP as tested: $69,090 (including destination charges)
• What we paid: $71,049 ($79,200 including taxes and fees)
Rather than go the safe route with another minivan, or shop for a midsize crossover (as we've done so many times in the past), we decided to fill the gap with a vehicle in a segment underrepresented in our long-term fleet — the large, three-row truck-based SUV.
While these vehicles have mostly been supplanted by the three-row crossover in terms of sales, they still make sense for a lot of people. Body-on-frame SUVs have higher tow limits than car-based crossovers, and generally taller ride heights mean they have more ground clearance, too. And, as you'll see with the vehicle we chose, some have off-road hardware for when you want to take the whole family adventuring off the beaten path.
With the benefits of a three-row truck-based SUV planted firmly in our minds, we began the search for a new example of our top-rated large SUV, the Chevrolet Suburban. And that's where we hit our first snag.
What Did We Get?Let's start with what we didn't get: the aforementioned Suburban. Our team scoured Chevrolet dealer websites across the Southern California area, and try as we might, we couldn't find a single Suburban for sale without a five-figure dealer markup. No amount of negotiating from our crack team significantly moved the pricing needle in our favor — the inventory crunch is real, Suburbans are in demand, and our accountants were unmoved by our pleas to increase our budget. Back to the drawing board.
We wanted the Suburban thanks to its roomy third row and substantial cargo area, but underneath it's essentially a stretched version of the Chevrolet Tahoe. So if we like the underlying vehicle, why not go with its slightly smaller sibling? So went our logic, and we found the markup situation for Tahoes was far less dire than with the Suburban. Once we decided to target a Tahoe instead, it was time to settle on a trim level.
Given that part of the appeal of a body-on-frame truck is the promise of greater capability off-road (compared to a car-based crossover), we decided the Z71 model would be a good fit. Its midtier status in the Tahoe lineup means it comes with a generous set of features and doesn't break the bank, while additions like skid plates, a revised front bumper for a better approach angle, low-range four-wheel-drive system and all-terrain tires mean that it's ready to hit the trail at a moment's notice.
Our search for a suitable candidate yielded a hit at Premier Chevrolet of Carlsbad. We drove south to the San Diego suburb to check out a Z71 Tahoe decked out in slick Dark Ash Metallic paint. It was also equipped with the desirable Luxury package ($2,525), which includes driver's seat memory settings, heated second-row seats, power-folding third-row seats, a 360-degree parking camera, and a blind-spot warning system. Further down the options list we saw the dealer had checked the boxes for the panoramic sunroof ($1,500) and second-row bucket seats ($370). And since GM has certainly not been immune from the ongoing microchip shortage, the window sticker also included a $50 credit for a missing steering column lock and a $50 credit for the missing front and rear parking assistance — which includes a later retrofit once it is available. The vehicle price with options and destination totaled $69,090.
But as anyone who has shopped for a car in the last two years can attest, the manufacturer's suggested retail price was ... different ... from what the dealer was charging.
Markups are the name of the game with inventory levels at all-time lows and demands being fairly stable. Tahoes move pretty well on a regular basis in these parts and we were not immune to the market ills. Our original out-the-door cost was $83,815 — which we knew our accounting team would not be happy about. Thankfully, Premier Chevrolet were the negotiating types and with a little back-and-forth between us and their sales team, we were able to land on a more palatable $79,200 (of which roughly $7,300 went toward tax).
Why Did We Get It?While some buyers of full-size SUVs gravitate toward these vehicles for their presence on the road, for others they are the natural choice when considering a number of wants and needs. Do you have a large family but can't imagine driving a minivan? Need an SUV with more room than a Toyota Highlander provides? Have to get your boat to a lake, or race car to a track, and the Honda Pilot just doesn't have the tow rating to back it up? These are all scenarios that would lead you to gravitate to one of these brawny beasts. Though not as comfortable or as fuel-efficient as its crossover brethren, a full-size SUV is far more capable and can tackle most obstacles you can throw at it.
So here we have the Tahoe Z71, a smaller version of our top-rated full-size SUV, and it's in our long-term fleet for the next 12 months and 20,000 miles. Along the way we'll answer some of our most pressing questions. Can you easily drive one of these brutes in LA's punishing metro area? Are the Z71's off-road upgrades worth the price? And, perhaps most importantly, if you aren't taking it off-road or towing, does it really make sense to buy a Tahoe over a Kia Telluride? Stay tuned as we find out.
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.
Average lifetime mpg: 15.9
EPA mpg rating: 17 combined ( 15 city / 20 highway )
Best fill mpg: 20.0
Best range (miles): 413.6
Current odometer: 29,722
2022 Chevrolet Tahoe: Maintenance
We'll keep you up to speed on the maintenance needs of our 2022 Chevrolet Tahoe.
|Total routine maintenance costs||$435.84|
|Additional maintenance costs|
|Scheduled dealer visits||1|
|Unscheduled dealer visits|
|Days out of service|
|Breakdowns stranding driver|
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We took the Tahoe in for its 15,000-mile maintenance check point
"I took our Chevy Tahoe in for a 15,000-mile service the other day. Upon arrival they told me there was an open recall relating to the headlights — apparently the daytime running lights could fail to turn off when the headlights were turned on. The fix was a software update that tacked about 30 minutes onto the whole process.
"The regular maintenance covered an oil change, tire rotation and alignment, a throttle-body cleaning, and the addition of coolant conditioner and fuel system conditioner. The total was $435.84, which seems a little hefty to me, but then this is a hefty vehicle.
"The whole process took about three hours, and we were back on the road." — Will Kaufman, senior writer and strategist
"The V8 in our Tahoe is neither engaging nor satisfying. It is sluggish when leaving the line at stoplights and is noisy and labors when driving up hills. This is not a particularly heavy vehicle, but the Tahoe often sounds out of breath." — Jake Sundstrom, editor, CarMax
"I have a counterpoint to my coworker Jake's comment regarding our Tahoe's V8. He described it as "neither engaging nor satisfying" and that it's "sluggish leaving the line at stoplights." I happen to like our Tahoe's V8. First off, it gives the Tahoe a welcome rumbly attitude compared to other rival SUVs that are packing more anodyne V6s. Life is always better when you've got a V8 soundtrack to back you up. Plus, our Tahoe doesn't seem slow to me around town. Get on it and it moves out with acceptable authority. True, it's objectively slower than the Ford Expedition (7.7 seconds to get to 60 mph versus the Ford's 6.9 seconds in our testing) but all around the V8 lands on the "like" column for me." — Brent Romans, senior manager, written content
"With the standard V8, the big Tahoe can feel sluggish because of its conservative throttle tuning. But man, when you lay into it, this thing has plenty of power. And it feels like even more thanks to the squat under acceleration." — Will Kaufman, senior writer and strategist
"I drove the Tahoe around the Hollywood area for a few days and it did well. Heavy traffic, narrow streets and fragmented roads did not disconcert this brawny family hauler one bit. On open roads, the 5.3 V8 did feel a bit flat off the line (not too surprising from a 5,800-plus-pound SUV), but once it got moving, it really got moving. The Tahoe felt quick, and despite its bulky body, it also felt nimble." — Albert Hernandez, editorial assistant
How's the transmission?
"As Colonel Sherman T. Potter once said, "There aren't enough Os in smooth for this." The transmission is really, really smooth in normal driving...except for the 1-2 shift. And that shift isn't rough or clunky, it's merely noticeable. But that's enough to make it stand out when the rest of the shifts are only apparent if you're listening for them." —Will Kaufman, CarMax senior writer and strategist
The Tahoe isn't great at navigating tight spaces
"The Tahoe is a STRESSFUL car to drive through certain types of construction zones. Especially at night, and especially especially at night in the rain. There are some stretches of freeway down here where traffic is being funneled into single lanes that are bordered on one side by concrete barriers right up against the edge of the lane, and either another barrier, traffic, or even in one case a mud shoulder on the other side.
"In that circumstance I really felt the width of this car, and the crap visibility hurt because it's really not easy to judge how much space you have. Then there's the steering, which is just a little vague on center so it's really, really easy to drift. Even at a reduced speed of 55 mph, I was not happy." Will Kaufman, CarMax senior writer and strategist
The front seat could be more comfortable
"Quick opinion on front seat comfort. It's ehh, OK. This insightful, hard-hitting opinion actually comes from some experience. I've driven our Tahoe for a few different long-distance trips, with the longest stints lasting upward of six hours in the saddle. That's not an Ironman endurance type of test but it's sufficient to know whether you like a seat or not. Essentially, I've found myself fidgeting in the seat after a few hours because my butt starts to get uncomfortable. It's not terrible, but nor is it so comfy that I think, 'Wow, I can happily spend all day driving this thing.'" — Brent Romans, senior manager, written content
"I thought the driver's seat was ... fine. Not the most comfortable I've experienced but not the worst, either. To Brent's point, for a vehicle that seems purpose-built for road trips, it's not very supportive.
"On the other hand, the suspension was quite good. The new independent rear suspension has transformed the Tahoe from a bouncy, wobbly mess into something that seamlessly absorbs potholes and ruts with none of the secondary body shudders that used to accompany this big SUV. To be clear, there's no mistaking this for anything but a truck, but it's a very well-sorted and comfortable truck." — Keith Buglewicz, managing editor
What do we think of the Tahoe's sunroof?
"I think this is one of the quietest sunroofs I've experienced. With it open, I was able to comfortably listen to a podcast at 45 mph without turning up the volume. There's a bit of whistling that starts around 35-40 mph, but it's pretty minor. It's a little black-magic-y." — Will Kaufman, senior writer and strategist
There's plenty of room in the Tahoe
"The Chevy Tahoe is definitely a behemoth, which means it doesn't skimp on size.
There was ample cabin space, and the second-row captain's chairs made it easy for adults to access the third row. Everyone had an ample legroom — even the wayback passengers.
"So, whether you are 5-foot-2 or 6-foot-2, you don't have to worry about being the first to call 'shotgun.' You will be comfortable in any seat in the Tahoe." — Jodi Tourkow, senior director, written content
But it isn't all that comfortable
"The Chevy Tahoe's size is a factor not onlly in cabin space but also in how it drives, especially when driving over bumps.
"It is not a comfy experience; rather it feels like you are at a county fair riding a rickety mini coaster. And the same applies at high speeds, too.
"It does ride smooth on the freeway, but at high speeds driving against wind-like conditions any slight bump may have you bippity-boppin' out of your seat." — Jodi Tourkow, senior director, written content
Thumbs-up on the Tahoe's touchscreen
"Every good touchscreen interface should have a place for your hand or fingers to rest in order to increase on-the-go poke accuracy. Our long-term Chevrolet Tahoe goes above and beyond in this area, with a cushioned, leather-wrapped rest. Bonus points for going with leather too, in lieu of the all-popular piano black smudge-prone surface. This is evidence that someone at Chevy spent some time with and gave some real thought to how users actually interact with touchscreens. Well done, guys." — Jonathan Elfalan, director, vehicle testing
How is the Tahoe at holding a bunch of stuff?
"The Tahoe needs to be good for holding gear and I can confirm it is an accomplished gear holder. The bottom of the liftgate sits at about hip height for me (I’m 6-foot-1) and both rows fold down using an easy to use mechanism in the back of the truck. Best of all? The seats fold to create a flat loading space. Nirvana." — Jake Sundstrom, editor
"I'm going to throw my hat in the 'good utility' camp here. I loaded up the Tahoe with multiple boxes of things over the course of a short-ish weekend road trip. Not only did the Tahoe swallow multiple boxes and oddly shaped items with a minimum of cargo-Tetris needed, there was enough room that my rear seat passengers didn't need to adjust their seats forward to make more room. The power-folding mechanism was fine, but honestly I prefer manual folding just because it's always faster.
"Side note: The humungous cargo door does excellent double duty as a rain shield when loading during a storm." — Keith Buglewicz, managing editor
"Word to the unwise: If you want to take advantage of the household-style outlet in the second row of the Chevrolet Tahoe (or the Suburban or GMC Yukon for that matter), you need to turn it on first. How do you do that? You press the "plug" button that sits to the left of the steering wheel." — Jake Sundstrom, editor, CarMax
"I like the big lock/unlock buttons on the door handles. They're at the perfect height to push with my elbow when I've got my arms full." — Will Kaufman, CarMax senior writer and strategist
"With all the seats folded, the cargo space is massive, but it's kind of a pain to use it all. The load floor is just above my hip-point, so when I needed to scoot a box all the way back I had to jump up and crawl in. Just a couple inches lower so I could just sort of sit and scoot, and it would have been so much easier." — Will Kaufman, CarMax senior writer and strategist
"I'll add on to what Will Kaufman said about our Tahoe's cargo space. I agree that it is a bit of a challenge to load heavy items because of the high cargo floor relative to those found in three-row crossover SUVs (a Honda Pilot, for example). But the appeal of a big and boxy cargo area shouldn't be dismissed. I used our Tahoe for a family road trip during the holidays and found that, with the third row folded down, there was plenty of space for our luggage and gifts. (Chevy lists it at 72.6 cubes of space.) That's more than twice the amount of space found in the back of a Chevy Equinox.
"I've also folded down the second row captain's chairs to do some hauling of bigger items that I needed to put in a storage unit. There's a massive 122.9 cubes available with the second and third rows folded down. To get any more space you'll need an extra-long SUV (the Suburban, for example) or a minivan/cargo van." — Brent Romans, senior manager, written content
"For my little family of three, the Tahoe is mostly 'meh' as a road trip companion. It does make packing easy, as we were able to throw everything we needed (and then some) into the trunk in a single layer. Beyond the trunk space, there wasn't anything glaringly bad about the Tahoe (other than its gas mileage), but there wasn't anything particularly good either. Are there cars I'd rather sit in for a long drive? Sure! Are there cars I'd 100% take the Tahoe over? You bet! So my verdict on balance after this road trip? Five mehs." — Will Kaufman, senior writer and strategist
We're fans of the hands-free power tailgate
"As someone who likes to make as few trips as possible when unloading groceries, I'm naturally a big fan of the hands-free power tailgate operation. The Tahoe makes it even easier to trigger the sensor on your first thanks to a 'repurposed' puddle light of a Chevy bowtie, showing you exactly where you need to swipe your foot (slightly right off-center under the rear bumper). My 4-year-old daughter even got it on the first try. Good stuff!" — Jonathan Elfalan, director, vehicle testing
If you want to tow, the Tahoe might be for you
"Here's the main reason I'd consider buying a Tahoe: towing. Get one that's properly equipped and you can potentially pull more than 8,000 pounds. That's 2,000 to 3,000 pounds more than what your typical three-row crossover SUV can tow. Like it or not, you can feel that capability in the way the Tahoe drives. It's a rugged, truck-based SUV. Now, I don't own a camper trailer or anything else in need of pulling. As such, I can't really comment on capably the Tahoe tows. Also, our Tahoe Z71 long-termer is missing the Advanced Trailering package that I'd want to make the most of this SUV's towing capability. Still, I respect anyone buying a Tahoe who's got towing as one of their top priorities." — Brent Romans, senior manager, written content
We've spent some time fiddling with Google built-in
"Most Tahoes, including our Z71, come with a 10.2-inch center touchscreen that includes a feature called Google built-in. Google built-in means that a significant amount of the touchscreen interface is powered by Google. The Tahoe's onboard navigation system, for example, is effectively Google Maps, just like you'd have on your phone or PC. It also includes the Google Assistant voice system and the ability to add a variety of 3rd party apps through the Google Store, such as Spotify.
"I've tinkered around with Google built-in and found it to be interesting but not game changing. Many of its features mirror those that are already on a smartphone. As such, I'm not sure how much Google built-in really adds if you're already plugging in your phone through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. I tried using the voice assistant feature for a few things. Some worked for me ("Set the temperature to 74 degrees") but others didn't ("Turn the driver seat heater on").
"I suppose there's more to be had if you fully integrated the system to your Google profile. For example, Google's website suggests you could say "Google, turn on the lights at home." As I share our Tahoe with my coworkers, I didn't bother trying to get all of that going." — Brent Romans, senior manager, written content
"The Tahoe causes issues with using Google Assistant on my phone. I don't know if this is because it has Google itself, and wants you to use assistant natively, but there's a weird delay in my phone's assistant. When I hold down the button to talk to my phone, I get the beep that says it's listening, but then it takes another 15 seconds or so before the icon changes to the listening icon. If I speak right after the beep, it doesn't hear me. I tested my phone in a couple other cars, and in all of them I was able to speak immediately after the beep.
"Maybe I just need to embrace the native Google infotainment services." — Will Kaufman, senior writer and strategist
How's the Tahoe's stereo?
"I'm not very impressed with the stereo in our Tahoe," says Senior Writer and Strategist Will Kaufman. "No amount of fiddling with the EQ made it feel balanced, and turning up the volume always seemed to result in muddy presentation. I could absolutely see road-tripping in one of these, but I sadly don't find it enjoyable to crank up my tunes."
We have our say on the Tahoe's 360-degree camera
"I wish the button to turn on the 360-degree camera was more prominent. It's sort of buried with some other buttons by your left knee and visually obstructed (at least for me) by the steering wheel. But if there's an obstacle within 100 feet you need them because of how massive the blind spots all around this behemoth are. I assume if our parking sensors worked, they'd trigger the camera when you got close to something, but even so. In this Tahoe, I'd like a physical button right up front and center on the center stack." — Will Kaufman, senior writer and strategist
"I really wish our Tahoe had its parking sensors installed and working. See, the 360-degree camera is nice, but like most surround-view cameras there's a bit of distortion where the images from the side cameras are stitched together with the front and rear cameras. This distortion runs at about a 45-degree angle off the corners of the car ... which is right what you're pointing at other cars and obstacles when you're negotiating tight parking spaces and small lots. Without the proximity beeps from parking sensors, it can be hard to judge how far away something you'd rather not hit is if it's positioned in just the right spot off a corner of the vehicle." — Will Kaufman, senior writer and strategist
"I 100% agree with Will on the parking sensors. This thing is a beast, and although it's useful to have the camera it's very much a 'broad strokes' kind of assistance. The fine-tuning of parking sensors would make me much less paranoid in parking spaces, especially the narrow ones found in the city, and especially because this thing is ponderous in parking lots. C'mon, Chevy, it's time to fully deploy this big boy's features." — Keith Buglewicz, managing editor
The windshield wipers have been frustrating
"WTF is going on with the automatic wipers? Their speed — and even whether they bother to turn on or not — seems totally independent of trivialities like the amount of 'water' on the 'windshield.' And all the intermittent settings are auto mode! I can't recall driving a car that was so inconsistent about auto wipers (we own a CR-V and a Mazda 6 and during all the recent storms the auto wipers on both performed totally satisfactorily). If there's a way to turn off auto mode and get regular intermittent wipers, it's not obvious, but with this setup I'd way, way rather just adjust the intermittent wipers myself." — Will Kaufman, senior writer and strategist
We struggled to connect to Bluetooth
"For the life of me, I could not connect my cellphone to Bluetooth in the Tahoe. I followed instructions numerous times but had zero luck.
"I was able to connect my mobile phone to Apple CarPlay. However, the connection was spotty.
"Additionally, the user interface was a bit clunky. Besides not being able to connect to my phone to the infotainment system unless parked, it was a bit slow and CarPlay would freeze at times." — Brendan Thomas, senior director, video content
One good-looking SUV
"I like the look of our Tahoe. The Z71 trim level's red-painted tow hooks, more aggressive front bumper styling and light duty all-terrain suggest some off-roading chops. Hidden beneath is a standard four-wheel-drive system and low-range gearing. Alas, I was dismayed to learn that the off-road appeal largely stops here. The Z71 has the same ride height and suspension as any other Tahoe trim, so we're not really getting any extra ability to drive over rocks or ruts here.
"There is a potential upgrade: Chevy offers an Off-Road Capability package for the Z71. That package includes an adaptive air suspension (can raise the SUV's ride height) and limited-slip differential (enhance available traction). But Chevy requires that you add a few other packages to get it, and that ultimately bumps up the price addition by about $8,600 in total." — Brent Romans, senior manager, written content
But it is massive
"After spending a long weekend in the Tahoe, I'm left hoping that Chevy, Ford and Ram will realize we've reached the practical limit on vehicle size. Even though the Tahoe is ostensibly a family vehicle, it barely fits between the lines of a parking spot. Even with the 360-degree camera, nailing that consistently is a chore, and you'll wind up being 'that guy' with one side of the vehicle encroaching on adjacent parking spots whether you want to or not. The high driving position, huge blind spots, and somewhat confined interior feeling don't help either. I already wouldn't enjoy daily driving this in a crowded city, but I can only shudder to think about its successor, which will almost assuredly continue the 'bigger is better' philosophy." — Keith Buglewicz, managing editor