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CHEVY’S NEW FACE

2007 Tahoe SUVs show the much refined path of next-generation trucks

By Bruce W. Smith

Photos by author & GM

Back in 1935, when the first Chevy Suburbans rolled off the assembly line and into the hearts of adventuresome owners across the country, no one could imagine that the love of such trucks would endure for more than 70 years.

Today there’re more than 6.5 million full-size SUV owners in the country—and some 41-percent of those are either Chevrolet Suburbans or Tahoes.

It’ll be no surprise to see those numbers make a significant increase as truck-loving consumers get a chance to drive the ’07 Tahoe—the first of GM’s next generation full-size SUVs. 

GM engineers somehow managed to take some of the best ride, handling, and performance attributes of Corvettes and Cadillacs and seamlessly blended all those together with the utility attributes that have made Tahoe the best-selling full-size SUV for the past five years.  The end result is a smooth, strong, quiet, comfortable and capable SUV for those who need one vehicle to fit family, work, and play.

UNDER FULL CONTROL

For instance, the new Tahoe has a wider stance and a much more refined suspension that makes the ride and handling significantly better than the current model. The new truck also sports  rack-and-pinion steering, 17- or 20-inch wheels, and larger disc brakes at all four corners.

Another standard feature on the upscale LTZ models is a state-of-the-art, “Z55 Autoride” suspension derived from the Corvette and sport-model Cadillacs.

The computer-controlled Autoride system delivers instant changes in suspension tuning in response to wheel speed, body position, vehicle speed, steering angle and braking, giving you a super-stable and comfortable ride regardless of terrain or conditions.

An added bonus for those who use an SUV for utility purposes, the suspension also incorporates an air-lift/auto-leveling system that includes an air bladder in the shocks to automatically raise and level the vehicle’s ride height when carrying passengers, a heavy payload, or towing a trailer.

When the load is removed the air is bled from the shocks returning the vehicle to a level ride height.

Combined with GM’s sophisticated StabiliTrak electronic stability control ABS system, which is now standard on all Tahoe models, Autoride gives the new Tahoe a very stable, sure-footed feel on road or off, slippery roads or dry. Even the base suspension found in the LT models is far improved over last year’s Tahoe.

BETTER BRAKES

Speaking of significant improvements, the days of the mushy, vague-feeling GM brake pedal feel are also gone.

Step on the pedal in the ’07 Tahoe and the larger disc brakes give the driver the instant braking response one expects more from a sports car than a big SUV. The brake feel is very linear; the moment your foot touches the pedal you feel the brakes begin applying, and the harder you step on the pedal, the faster the new Tahoe slows down.

Such design and engineering changes result in an SUV that drives like a much smaller SUV and delivers the kind of steering response, road feel, handling and braking you’d expect on a smaller sports sedan—not a 5,500-pound, four-wheel-drive SUV.

ECONOMY WITH POWER

Although the 2007 Tahoe isn’t a Corvette or a Cadillac CTS, it comes close in the world of big SUVs. Under the hood is the new “Gen IV” 5.3L V8 that delivers an astounding 320 horsepower—the kind of power that inspires driver confidence under any traffic conditions.

Even better is this new V8 delivers an amazing 20-plus miles-per-gallon (20.1/4WD, 20.5 2WD).

This 2-3mpg jump in mileage over the previous GM engine in the Tahoe comes in large part to the Displacement-On-Demand (DOD) engine technology that seamlessly changes the engine between V8 and V4 depending on throttle position and other variables.

The engine’s transitions between operating modes is so smooth the only way you know what mode the Tahoe’s 5.3L is in is by watching the V4/V8 displayed in the instrument panel.

Sometime in late spring GM will offer the 290hp 4.8L V8, which will be the standard engine the 2WD Tahoe. The smaller V8 is said to deliver 21mpg, making both engines the most economical of any full-size SUV.

The only technical disappointment in the new Tahoe is GM retaining the use of  the Hydra-Matic 4L60, 4-speed automatic. They have been touting a much anticipated six-speed automatic in both the new pickups and full-size SUVs for the new models. But hat’s not to be—at least not in the early ’07 Tahoes.   

That said, the 4-speed Hydra-Matic feels better than the previous iterations, being a little firmer during shifts, exhibiting far less “hunting”  between Drive and Overdrive, and being a little faster to respond on downshifts.  

VERY REFINED INTERIOR

With all of the fine changes in the chassis, steering, braking, and power, there’s yet another area of significant improvement and that’s inside the new Tahoe.  

First of all, fit and finish is par excellence with gap tolerances between console, dash, and door components on the very same level you’d expect to find in the very best luxury sedans and coupes. That alone is a huge change for any GM truck—pickup or SUV.

Base-model LS versions get a sporty interior with a single-tone, brushed metal look on the upper instrument panel, center stack and door switch plates, while the upscale LT and LTZ models are equipped with classy burl wood-look accents. Add in the low-gloss treatment on all model’s instrument panel and trim pieces and you have the feel of richness rarely, if ever, seen in an SUV.

Then there’s the roominess; if you wear big hats and frequent the Big & Tall, or have a growing family, you’ll feel right at home in the ’07 Tahoe. It feels a lot bigger inside than the exterior suggests.

It begins with little things such as new, thinner and plusher headliner, the way the instrument panel sits lower, and how the center control stack is flat and controls repositioned to give the driver and front passenger more open space. The front seat tracks are an inch longer and recline more, adding a lot more comfort to those with longer legs, and the center console is narrower, yet has more interior storage space.

In the second row there’s more shoulder space wider; and second-row seats flip/fold with ease—and an optional electric switch on the both the overhead console and “C”-pillar can be used to flip/fold them automatically—and industry first.

Third-row seats, which are easily removable, are there for the asking and they actually accommodate adults as well as kids.  

Another nice improvement is the upgraded heating, air-conditioning, and climate control system, which is considerably quieter in the mid- and full-force modes than previous versions.  Storage capability is also improved with the segment’s largest center console storage bin, a 25-percent larger glove box and additional new storage compartments in which to hide/store goodies.

QUIET ZONE

 Chevrolet engineers did an even more commendable job in making the interior the quietest of any SUV n the market. Significant improvements to the chassis, body-to-frame bushings, and sound deadening materials inside and out of the cabin keep noise levels so quiet you can almost hear the digital clock tick as you cruise down the Interstate.

Tahoe also utilizes spray-in expanding foam, mostly in the “A”-pillars, to help reduce noise by filling in space to eliminate sound paths that eventually lead to the occupant’s ears.

The aerodynamically slick body (cd of .363, same as C5 Corvette), with its raked-back windshield, ultra-close fit body panels, all-new front and rear body design, and slipperier side mirrors also lend to reducing wind-induced noise.

GM even went so far in tracking down and eliminating noise-generating culprits that they removed the old vertical whip antennae from the right fender because it was a source of interior noise.

FULL-ON CAPABILITY

Interior elegance, great ride, superb handling, and all the other things that should make the ’07 a new leader in full-size SUVs means little to those who enjoy boating and th outdoors unless it has both off-pavement and towing capabilities. The new Tahoe doesn’t disappoint.

From your basic utility perspective, the 4WD Tahoe, can tow up to 7,700 pounds—when both trailer and truck are properly equipped. It will also carry 1,763 pounds of payload, which includes both passengers and cargo.

Its off-road capability is enhanced from previous years by the addition of the new coil-over front suspension in both the two- and four-wheel-drive models. The coil-over suspension design helps keep the front tires planted on the ground far better than the torsion-bar IFS of old.

At the rear, Chevrolet offers buyers the option of either a “limited-slip” or a electric “full-locking” differential. The best option for those who live in the country or tow boata and frequent slippery boat ramps is the electric locker with the optional 4.10 axle ratio.

There’s little question the ’07 Tahoe is a far more capable SUV than any previous model.

And if you can’t wait to see the new Tahoe yourself, don’t worry--Chevy dealers should have the new Tahoe on their lots by early January.

The pricing is also impressive. With a base price starting at $33,990 for the LS model equipped with a standard 5.3L engine, it brings the 2007 Tahoe approximately $2,000 below its predecessor. That’s a deal.  –Bruce W. Smith

SPECIFICATIONS (from GM)

2007 Chevrolet Tahoe  

Overview

Models: Chevrolet Tahoe LS, LT and LTZ
Body style / driveline: 4-door sport utility vehicle, front-engine, 2- or 4-wheel drive, half-ton models
Construction: body on frame
EPA vehicle class: full-size sport utility vehicle
Manufacturing locations: Janesville, Wisconsin, and Arlington, Texas
Key competitors: Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia

 

Engines

 

 

 

 

Vortec 4800 4.8L V-8 (LY2)

Vortec 5300 5.3L V-8 (LY5)

Vortec 5300 5.3L V-8 (LMG)

Type:

4.8L V-8

5.3L V-8

5.3L V-8

Displacement (cu in / cc):

293 / 4807

325/ 5328

325 / 5328

Bore & stroke (in / mm):

3.78 x 3.27 / 96.01 x 83

3.78 x 3.62 / 96 x 92

3.78 x 3.62 / 96 x 92

Block material:

cast iron

cast iron

cast iron

Cylinder head material:

cast aluminum

cast aluminum

cast aluminum

Valvetrain: 

overhead valve, 2 valves per cylinder

overhead valve, 2 valves per cylinder, hydraulic roller lifters

overhead valve, 2 valves per cylinder, hydraulic roller lifters

Ignition system:

coil near plug ignition, iridium electrode tip/ iridium core spark plugs, low resistance spark plug wires

coil-near-plug ignition, iridium electrode tip/ iridium core spark plugs, low resistance spark plug wires

coil-near-plug ignition, iridium electrode tip/ iridium core spark plugs, low resistance spark plug wires

Fuel delivery:

sequential fuel injection

Displacement on Demand; sequential fuel injection

Displacement on Demand; sequential fuel injection

Compression ratio:

9.2:1

9.9:1

9.9:1

Horsepower (hp/ kw @ rpm):

290 / 216 @ 5400*

320 / 238 @ 5300*

320/  238 @ 5300*

Torque (lb-ft / Nm @ rpm):

290 / 393 @ 4000*

340 / 470 @ 4200*

340 / 470 @ 4200*

Fuel:

87 octane

87 octane

87 octane, E85-capable

Maximum engine speed (rpm):

5900

6000

6000

Emissions controls:

close-coupled catalytic converter, Quick Sync 58X ignition, returnless fuel rail, fast-response O²

sensor

close-coupled catalytic converter, Quick Sync 58X ignition, returnless fuel rail, fast-response O²

sensor

close-coupled catalytic converter, Quick Sync 58X ignition, returnless fuel rail, fast-response O²

sensor

Estimated fuel economy (unadjusted combined): 

21 (2WD & 4WD)

20.5 (2WD)

20.1 (4WD)

20.5 (2WD)

20.1 (4WD)

 

Transmission

 

Type:

Hydra-Matic 4L60, 4-speed automatic

Gear ratios (:1):

 

First:

3.06

Second:

1.63

Third:

1.00

Fourth:

0.70

Reverse:

2.29

Final drive ratio: 

4.8L – 3.23:1, 3.73:1

 

5.3L – 3.42:1, 3.73:1, 4.10:1

Chassis/Suspension

Front: Independent, coil over shock; Autoride real-time damping (opt.)
Rear: five-link with coil springs
Traction assist: all-speed traction control
Steering type: power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Steering ratio: 17.75:1
Steering wheel turns, lock-to-lock: 3
Turning circle, curb-to-curb (ft / m): 39.04 / 11.9

Brakes

Type: 4-wheel disc, 4-wheel ABS
Rotor diameter x thickness (in / mm):

front: 13 x 1.18 / 330.2 x 30

rear: 13.5 x .787 / 345 x 20

Wheels/Tires

Wheel size and type: 17 x 7.5-inch steel (fleet, Police Pursuit)
  17 x 7.5-inch machined cast aluminum, silver sparkle accent (LS, LT)
  18 x 8.0-inch polished aluminum (Z71 package) – late ’06 availability
  20 x 8.5-inch polished aluminum (opt. LT, std. LTZ)
   
Tires: P265/70R17 blackwall Bridgestone AL2 (all-season) steel belt radials;
  P265/70R17 white letter Goodyear AL2 (all-season) steel-belt radials;
  P265/70R17 blackwall Bridgestone OOR (on-off-road) steel belt radials (export only)
  P265/60R17 blackwall Goodyear AL3 (higher performance) steel belt radials (Police Pursuit)
  P265/65R18 blackwall Bridgestone OOR (on-off-road) steel belt radials – late ’06 availability
  P265/65R18 blackwall Bridgestone AL2 (all-season) steel belt radials (export only)
  P275/55R20 blackwall Bridgestone AL2 (all-season) steel belt radials

Dimensions

Exterior

Wheelbase (in / mm): 116 / 2946
Overall length (in / mm): 202.0 / 5129.9
Overall width (in / mm): 79.0 / 2007.0
Overall height (in / mm): 2WD: 76.9 / 1954.4; 4WD: 77 / 1955.3
Track (in / mm):

front: 68.2 / 1731.8

rear: 67.0 / 1701.8

Minimum ground clearance (in / mm): 9 / 228.8
Step-in height (in / mm): 2WD: 21.8 / 553.1                                                                        4WD: 22 / 557.9
Ground to top of load floor (in / mm):

2WD: 31.7 / 804.6          

4WD: 31.6 / 802.1

Approach angle (deg): 17
Departure angle (deg): 21.9
Curb weight (lb / kg): 2WD: 5233 / 2373.7                                                                     4WD: 5537 / 2511.6

Weight distribution (% front / rear)

52 / 48

Interior

  First Row Second Row Third Row
Seating capacity (9 total): 2 / 3 2 / 3 2 / 3 
Head room (in / mm): 40.3 / 1023 38.5 / 978.0 38.2 / 971.3
Leg room (in / mm): 41.3 / 1048.9 39.0 / 990.8 25.4 / 644.2
Shoulder room (in / mm): 65.3 / 1657.9 65.3 / 1657.4 61.7 / 1566.1
Hip room (in / mm): 64.4 / 1636.7 60.6 / 1538.9 49.1 / 1246.5
Cargo volume (cu ft / L):      

Behind 1st row, 2nd row folded no third row

 

108.9 / 3084

   

Behind 2nd row no third row

 

 

60.3 / 1707.7

 

Behind 3rd row

 

 

16.9 / 478.6

Note: 3-passenger bench and 2-passenger bucket seats standard or optional depending on the model.

Capacities

EPA interior volume (cu ft / L): 108.9 / 3084
GVWR: (lb / kg):

2WD: 7100 / 3220.5

4WD: 7300 / 3311.3

Payload, base (lb / kg):

2WD: 1867 / 846.8 (with third-row seat)

4WD: 1763 / 799.7 (with third-row seat)

Trailer towing maximum (lb / kg):

2WD: 7200 / 3266

4WD: 7700 / 3492

Fuel tank (gal / L): 26 / 98
Engine oil (qt / L): 6 / 5.7
Cooling system (qt / L): 4.8L: 14.4 / 13.6; 5.3L: 16.8 / 15.9

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