As evidenced by its continuing success in an extremely competitive market, the 2023 Chevy Tahoe is the answer to the question of what to buy for family hauling. The minivan had its heyday in the 1990s, but it’s the 3-row SUV that has captured the family imagination.
Imagine a scene for a moment: the local ball field and not a single big SUV in sight. Of course, anyone born pre-1999 will remember that sight, but not the modern auto consumer. The evolution of the all-around family car has evolved from the humble sedan to the spacious station wagon to the roomy minivan to today’s enormous SUV.
It’s not as though it takes someone with the intellect of Frasier Crane to see why the 3-row SUV has surpassed the minivan as the family hauler of choice. First and foremost, there is the element of safety. The Tahoe comes with a whole suite of advanced safety features, plus the added bonus of beefy styling that makes it look equal parts menacing and protective. Then, there’s comfort and convenience. The Tahoe goes a long way toward making every aspect of itself comfortable to its passengers. This includes state-of-the-art tech, spacious seating, and ample cargo capacity.
And finally, there’s the element of capability—that go-anywhere nature that’s embedded into the DNA of every family SUV. What was once the vehicle of choice for the explorers of the wilderness is now the vehicle of choice for the suburban traveler. I’ll be examining these elements of the Tahoe, proving that it is one of the best family haulers on the market—and has some serious street cred to boot.
With a life spanning 30 years, what we now know as the Tahoe was introduced to us in 1992 as the Blazer. In comparison to today, the ‘92 Tahoe was spartan, but for the time it was quite high-end.
However, safety wasn’t as much of a concern in the 1990s. Not that buyers were flippant about the security of their passengers, but seatbelts, airbags, and high crash-test ratings were the winners of the day. Not so, today. Today, the Tahoe is outfitted with an absolute bevy of safety features, all of which are competitive fare in today’s automotive world.
All Tahoes come with Chevy Safety Assist. The features included here are: automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, forward pedestrian braking, forward distance indicator, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and IntelliBeam (automatic intelligent high beams that move with your turning vehicle).
Maybe all this is beginning to sound droll, as it is mentioned in virtually every modern car review. In that case, it’s only because Chevrolet—and the whole market, for that matter—cares about the safety of Americans. With distracted driving the cause of more and more automotive accidents and fatalities, it was up to automakers to develop safety features that allow the car to think and respond faster than the driver. Still, attentive driving goes a long way toward decreasing accidents and road hazards.
While we’re on the subject of distracted driving, let’s talk about Teen Driver. This will be of particular interest to you parents whose kids are about to get behind the wheel. Teen Driver is a GM-only safety feature specifically geared toward keeping teens safe and attentive. Monitored from smartphones, parents can keep watch of their intrepid young driver. Highlights of Teedn Driver include a driving report card, vehicle top-speed settings, curfew settings, volume settings, and control over the infotainment system.
The Tahoe also comes standard with OnStar emergency services connectivity, but adaptive cruise control is limited to the two upper trim levels: the High Country and Premier. It’s a bit of a shame considering other companies are now featuring standard adaptive cruise control on entry trims. Still, you’ll hardly feel vulnerable in the Tahoe. With all these safety technologies, plus 7 airbags, you’ll feel secure in your Tahoe wherever you take it.
Still, what’s the point of feeling safe if you don’t feel comfortable? Joking aside, safety and comfort are what the Tahoe does best. You’ll feel like you’re the king of the road in an SUV that’s 8” off the ground.
First, we have available seating. Standard Tahoes with first-row captain’s chairs can seat a maximum of 7 passengers with second-row captain’s chairs, and 8 with second-row bench seats. The third row is a universal bench seat across all trim levels. There’s the potential to cram up to 9 people into a Tahoe with the available front-row bench seat on the base LS model.
And, it’s not as if the 9 will be wanting for legroom: 44.5” in the front row, 42” in the second row, and 36.7” in the third row. The leg room in the third row is astonishing, besting many minivans. Other seating comforts include leather upholstery, heated front seats, and 10-way power-adjustable front seats.
Of course, it’s the onboard tech that really takes the cake in terms of creature comforts. The base LS comes with an 8” diagonal, driver-oriented color touchscreen, while the other upper trims—LT, RST, Z71, Premier, and High Country—are kitted out with a 10.2” screen. The main infotainment system throughout the Tahoe is the Chevrolet Infotainment 3. Capabilities vary depending on trim, but the basics include Bluetooth connectivity, USB ports, wireless Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto for up to two compatible devices. The premium system on the upper trims adds Google built-in compatibility with access to Google search, Google Maps, and Google Play—as well as an onboard WiFi connection.
Additionally, the LS comes with a 6-speaker audio system; the LT, RST, and Z71 upgrade to a 9-speaker Bose system; and the Premier and High Country get a 10-speaker Bose system with Centerpoint. The upper trims can also be outfitted with a rear seat media system that includes two 12.6” headrest mounted digital color screens, Bluetooth headphones, wireless WiFi projection, and two HDMI ports on the center console. That’s enough tech to make those long car rides fly by for younger passengers.
Finally, we have the element of capability, and that starts with cargo. Standard cargo with the third row upright is a modest 25.5 cu.ft., which is standard among three-row vehicles. Things change when you fold down the third row. You get 72.6 cu.ft. behind the second row and an amazing 122.9 cu.ft. behind the front row. So, whether you’re buying plywood, have a hefty grocery load, or are filling the Tahoe to the brim with vacation gear, rest assured knowing that there’s room to spare.
Next, we have driving performance. While 2WD is standard across the lineup, 4WD is available, making the most out of a vehicle with an ancestry of off-road exploring. Plus, 4WD comes in handy when dealing with adverse weather and tricky road conditions. Depending on which of the three powertrains you select, you can clock up to an impressive 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque.
Trailering and hauling are essential to many a family SUV owner, given that campers or boats may be part of the family equation. Never fear; the Tahoe can tow up to 8,400 lbs and comes equipped with trailering equipment such as a hitch platform, 2” receiver, hitch guidance with the rearview camera, and a 7-wire harness with independent trailering circuit fuses. Premier and High Country Tahoes come with Chevrolets available Advanced Trailering System. This is built into the infotainment system and comes with inside and transparent trailer views, customizable trailer profiles, and trailer tire pressure/status monitoring. All said, if you need it, the capability is there.
It could be said that the SUV craze is coming to an end with the arrival of EVs and increasing skepticism about the future of the automobile. But for now, families can continue to purchase the stalwart champion of the driveway. The Tahoe not only looks great, but it can keep you and your family safe and comfortable, tow what you need it to, and keep you connected to what matters most: your time together.