Today, small and midsize SUVs have switched to a more car-like unibody construction to improve driving quality, efficiency and driving experience. But for large SUVs, truck-based body-on-frame construction is still the best choice. The 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe shows some strengths in this way, though it also has some drawbacks.
For the advantage, the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe offers a large towing capacity, up to 8,600 pounds. The engine also has a lot of power, with the standard 355-horsepower V8 and the new optional 420-hp V8. The cabin is well designed, easy to use and to in and out is one of the Tahoe advantages. It also has a quiet ride and strong air conditioning, which is perfect for large interior spaces.
Unfortunately, the Tahoe sluggish acceleration, along with limited cargo space, is a drawback that most unibody SUVs not have. Chevrolet efforts to improve the Tahoe efficiency also sacrifice its off-road capability, especially the low front air dam that limits ground clearance. For those of you who want off-road, is advised to choose the Z71 package.
Buyers looking for large SUVs don’t have many options here. The 2018 Ford Expedition receives several major updates and promises a lot of capability and space. The Toyota Sequoia can be an affordable alternative with its superior passenger and cargo space. And if you do not plan on towing, the Volkswagen Atlas and Honda Pilot offer plenty of space on three-row for comfortable traveling and plenty of tech features.
Trim levels and features
The 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe is a full-size three-row SUV that available in three trim levels: LS, LT and Premier. Seating for eight is standard, but the base LS optional 40/20/40-split middle-row bench seat increases capacity to nine.
Standard equipment for the base LS trim includes remote keyless entry, 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic wipers, heated mirrors, side steps, a trailer hitch receiver with wiring harness, rear parking sensors, roof rails and remote ignition. Inside you’ll get tri-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 10-way power-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding second-row seat, third-row bench seats and a tilt-only.
Tech features include a rearview camera, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, OnStar communication with a Wi-Fi hotspot and a 4G LTE connection, 8-inch touchscreen with Chevy MyLink infotainment system, a teen-driver monitoring system, a 110-volt power outlet, five USB ports, Bluetooth, a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio and a CD player.
The optional Enhanced Driver Alert package adds automatic high beams, power-adjustable pedals, forward collision warning with low-speed automatic braking, lane departure warning and intervention.
The 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe LT includes everything above, plus a power liftgate, an auto-dimming rearview camera, a telescoping steering wheel, driver-seat memory functions, a 10-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a nine-speaker Bose audio system and a universal garage door opener.
The LT optional Luxury package adds keyless entry and ignition, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, front parking sensors, foglights, a hands-free tailgate opener, an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, power-folding mirrors, a heated and power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated second-row seats, power-folding second and third-row seats and a wireless charging pad. The Texas Edition package is similar except for the charging pad but adds unique badging and crossbars to the roof rails.
The 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Premier includes the Luxury package plus 20-inch wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, xenon headlights, ventilated front seats, 12-way power front seats, second-row bucket seats (reducing seating capacity to seven), a 10-speaker Bose premium surround-sound upgrade and a navigation system.
Available for the LT and Premier trims is the Sun, Entertainment and Destinations package, which adds a sunroof, navigation for the LT trim and a rear-seat entertainment system. A head-up display, power-retractable side steps and adaptive cruise control is also available on the Premier trim.
The new RST Edition is an appearance package for the LT and Premier trims that adds blacked-out exterior, badging and wheels.
Options for all trims include 22-inch wheel, the Max Trailering package that adds a trailer brake controller, an electronic two-speed transfer case (on 4WD models), a different rear axle ratio and an auto-leveling suspension.
The Z71 Off-Road package (LT only) adds unique cosmetic elements, front parking sensors, an off-road suspension, all-terrain tires, underbody skid plates, hill descent control, tubular side steps, rubber floor mats and an electronic two-speed transfer case.
The 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe is powered by a 5.3-liter V8 engine that produces 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive with a locking rear differential are standard. Four-wheel drive with a single-speed transfer case is available as an option. An electronic two-speed transfer case comes with the Z71 Off-Road and Max Trailering packages.
In performance testing, the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Premier 4WD accelerated from to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, and the LT 2WD hit 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. EPA estimated fuel economy for two-wheel-drive models stand at 19 mpg combined (16 city/23 highway) and 18 mpg combined (16 city/22 highway) for four-wheel drive variant. These numbers are better than most competitors.
Properly equipped, the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe 2WD can tow up to 8,600 pounds. Four-wheel-drive models rated at 8,400 pounds.
The RST Performance Edition, which only for the Premier trim adds a 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. It paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, a sport-tuned suspension, a trailer brake controller, and on four-wheel-drive models, a two-speed transfer case.
In track testing, the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Premier RST Performance Edition 4WD went to 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds. EPA fuel economy stands at 17 mpg combined (14 city/23 highway) for either two or four-wheel drive. Chevy rates the all-wheel-drive Tahoe RST towing capacity up to 8100 pounds.
Inside, the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe offers plenty of space for front and second-row passengers, and the material quality is above average for the class. Despite its size, visibility is decent, and the standard rearview camera and rear parking sensors are helpful while maneuvering in the narrow space.
Taller drivers will easily fit, but the LS lack of telescoping steering wheel might extend their reach more than they want. The second-row, whether a bench or optional bucket is just as roomy, but its folding mechanism limits the range of adjustments. The third-row seat is flat with a thin cushion, and the high floor significantly reduces legroom.
The 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe cargo capacity is not one of the best in this class. It only provides 15.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 51.6 cubic feet behind the second row and 94.7 cubic feet with both rows folded flat. Not only the space smaller compared to the competitors, but the loading floor itself is too high to accommodate the folded third-row seat. This makes loading bulky items heavier, especially for small people.
Release date and price
The 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe is on sale and arriving now at dealers nationwide. Key competitors include the Nissan Armada, Toyota Sequoia and Ford Expedition SUV.
The official price for the base LS trims starting at $48,510 (include the $1,295 destination fee). Adding four-wheel drive is an additional $3,000. The LT trim costs $53,750, while the four-wheel-drive variant increases the price to $56,750. The range-topping Premier trim is priced at $63,435, while adding four-wheel drive is an extra $3,000.
Opting for the LT RST Edition costs $2,640, while the same package costs $2,630 on the range-topping Premier trim.