In a world obsessed with crossover SUVs, the 2022 Chevy Tahoe is out to prove that a full-size SUV can still hold its own. Crossovers have won a loyal following thanks to their lighter construction, made possible by the fact that they’re built on car platforms instead of a truck chassis like traditional SUVs. This construction method not only reduces weight, but improves handling, fuel economy, and comfort. Full-size SUVs like the 2022 Tahoe, on the other hand, use a body-on-frame design lifted from the pickup world, which improves resistance to the type of twisting forces experienced when off-roading, trailering, or hauling cargo. These SUVs also usually offer more ground clearance than their crossover cousins but fall short in a number of other key areas that are becoming increasingly important to drivers.
With the 2022 Tahoe, Chevy is attempting to close that gap, integrating some intriguing new technologies which could allow these traditional SUVs the chance to beat crossovers at their own game. From magnetically-controlled shock absorbers to an adaptive, air-powered suspension and a number of innovative new safety features, the Tahoe is pulling out all the stops to provide a more comfortable, enjoyable, and safe full-size SUV experience.
For any large SUV, the real challenge is hitting that sweet spot between comfort and power. Drivers want large, brawny vehicles that will see them through any inclement weather or adverse road conditions but also don’t want to feel like they’re in a tank on every trip to the supermarket. All the towing capacity in the world is great, but if you can’t parallel park without someone performing air traffic control signals to ease you into the spot, it’s not adding much to your driving experience. The 2022 Tahoe is engineered to offer the best of both worlds, with Chevy employing a number of cutting-edge technological solutions to ensure that drivers safety and comfort never take a backseat to power and performance. We’ll get into some of the safety features in a bit, but for now let’s take a closer look at one comfort-enhancing technology originally designed for sports cars that is seeing new life in some of Chevy’s large SUVs.
Magnetic Ride Control Comes To SUVs
Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) is a suspension system developed by Chevy that uses a magnetic fluid to regulate its shock absorbers and reduce vibrations. When not in use, the fluid inside the damper can flow freely, but when the system’s magnets are engaged, iron particles within the fluid change its viscosity to deliver a stiffer suspension. The MRC system constantly monitors road conditions, with a set of sensors taking new readings every millisecond and adjusting to changing terrain in as little as five milliseconds.
MRC isn’t new – it’s been used on certain Corvettes and Camaros since 2005 – but it’s having a real resurgence in the new generation of Chevy’s large SUVs. Previously only available to those opting for the Tahoe’s defunct LTZ trim, MRC is now a standard feature on Tahoes equipped with the Premier and High Country packages. Drivers opting for the Z71 and LT package can also upgrade to MRC, bringing the innovative suspension system to half of the trim packages in the 2022 Tahoe lineup. In addition to the Tahoe, MRC can be found on upper trim levels of newer Chevy Suburbans and Silverado 1500s, as well as some GMC Sierras, Yukons, and a handful of Cadillacs.
The technology is particularly well-suited to its new role, providing an exceptionally smooth ride that’s sure to be a hit with any driver who finds themselves putting in a lot of miles. By eschewing any moving parts or mechanical valves in favor of a magnetorheological fluid-filled monotube damper, the MRC system can seamlessly adjust to varying road conditions, enhancing comfort without being susceptible to the same wear-and-tear faced by traditional adaptive dampers. This is particularly helpful on these larger SUVs, which – by nature of their size and workhorse tendencies – generally put more of a strain on their suspension than smaller vehicles.
MRC’s inclusion in the upper trim levels of these new Chevy SUVs comes as little surprise. The fast, precise nature of the system allows drivers to get the most out of these large SUVs, delivering an impressively smooth ride while giving drivers more sense of control. Corners are smoother, bumps are less noticeable, and drivers will feel more confident testing the limits of the SUV’s performance, knowing that MRC is working behind the scenes. “When you want to hustle, it is incredibly fast, with significantly higher levels of acceleration, braking, and road-holding grip,” says Eric Stanczak, chief engineer for Chevy full-size trucks.
Riding On Air
As comprehensive as it might sound, MRC is only one approach Chevy has used to improve the driving experience in the 2022 Tahoe. The Tahoe’s first-in-class Four-Corner Air Ride Adaptive Suspension works in tandem with MRC to improve ride comfort while also addressing accessibility and fuel economy. Available on the Z71 and High Country versions of the 2021 and newer Tahoe, Four-Corner Air Ride Adaptive Suspension, or just Air Ride, uses an air pump to adjust air springs in each of the SUV’s four corners. By raising and lowering each quadrant by as much as four inches, Air Ride improves body control by evening out the vehicle’s weight distribution, which is especially important given the Tahoe’s average curb weight of around 5,500 pounds. The suspension can also be manually adjusted for off-road use, giving drivers an additional inch of ground clearance.
The ability to raise and lower the chassis by four inches allows Air Ride-equipped Chevy’s to perform a few additional tricks that drivers are sure to appreciate. While many will appreciate the sense of height and visibility provided by full-size SUVs, they do present one glaring drawback: sometimes you feel like you’re scaling the side of a cliff to get in the cabin. Air Ride goes a long way in addressing this common complaint; with the ability to lower the vehicle by two inches, entering and exiting the Tahoe is easier than ever.
Burning Less Fuel and Providing More Power
Fuel economy has never been the strong suit of the full-size SUV segment, and though it’s improved a lot in recent years, it can still be obnoxious to find yourself at the pump so often. Again, Air Ride has a fix, giving drivers the ability to lower the suspension by three-quarters of an inch when at highway speed as a means of improving the vehicle’s aerodynamics and conserving fuel to the tune of around 20 MPG highway. For those who prioritize power over efficiency, the 2022 Tahoe has expanded the availability of its 6.2-liter V8 to the RST, Z71, and Premier trims, giving drivers another option in addition to the standard 5.3-liter V8. While the larger engine will decrease overall fuel economy slightly, the added 65 horsepower and 77 pound-feet of torque should soften the blow.
Easier Trailering Performance
In addition to MRC and the Air Ride suspension, Chevy included a couple of novel features that could go a long way in alleviating some of the anxiety one might experience in such a large vehicle. With 8,400 pounds of towing capacity, drivers are going to be understandably eager to put it to good use, but that can present some issues of its own as large trailers tend to block the driver’s rear view. With Transparent Trailer View, that’s a thing of the past. Using up to 13 different camera angles, the system is able to digitally stitch together a composite view of the road behind you, which is then displayed in a live video feed for an effect that essentially renders your trailer invisible.
In addition to this transparent point of view, drivers can also select a picture-in-picture side view and even a view inside the trailer itself with a few upgrades. In much the same vein, the Tahoe also now includes standard front and rear parking assist, a feature that uses ultrasonic sensors to help alert drivers to nearby objects when trying to park. While this technology isn’t unique to the 2022 Tahoe, it’s an especially good use of the system given the SUV’s dimensions.
A Full-Size SUV For a New Decade
By employing these clever tricks, and more, Chevy has been able to address some of the most common concerns around large SUVs without sacrificing the power and performance drivers have come to expect from the Tahoe name. Between the ride-smoothing properties of Magnetic Ride Control, the fuel savings and accessibility offered by Air Ride, and the myriad safety features available, the 2022 Tahoe is a case study in engineering around the problems inherent to large SUVs. Already a leader in its category, the 2022 model breathes new life into the popular SUV.
It’s all too easy for brands to slap a new headlight design or color option on this year’s model and call it a day, but with the Tahoe, Chevy seems eager to continually reinvent itself to meet the needs of an ever-shifting market. Crossovers might be the hot trend these days, but the 2022 Tahoe shows that there will always be a place for a full-size SUV that manages to strike the ideal balance between performance, comfort, and reliability.