Rental Review: The 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe LT, a Full-size Sedan for Indiana

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Upon reserving a car in the Full-size Sedan class from the people at Enterprise, your author’s mind filled with visions of Passat and Fusion, or something similar. But over on the TTAC Slack channel, Adam Tonge assured me, “They won’t have a full-size sedan for you.”

Turns out he was right. Of the three “upgrade” options presented, none was a sedan. So I picked the largest one, and the only option with a V8: this dark blue 2019 Tahoe, in LT trim.

The other two options presented were a high-trim Dodge Journey in Ticket Me Red and a presumably basic Grand Caravan in Appliance White. The Tahoe seemed like the best option, though after the completion of over 800 miles, perhaps the lesser of three evils might’ve been a more apt description. Let’s go back in time a few days… or maybe a couple of decades. It’s hard to tell.

Quick pricing note: A Tahoe in LT trim with four-wheel drive asks $55,795.

Square Jaw

The Tahoe’s been around for a few years now, and it’s aging well — what with its square overall shape and lack of exterior detailing (excepting the front fascia). Panel fitment and paint quality are generally very good. The dark blue paint has a nice amount of metal flake and minimal orange peel. Door fitment is another story, unfortunately.

The rear passenger side door was fitted too high on the body over at Arlington Assembly. Chrome trim did not line up below the window, or along the top of the door. On the subject of doors, handles give a quality pull and return action, accompanied by a nice thunk. Both inside and outside, closing the doors closing makes a satisfyingly solid noise.

Square Space

Long-term readers of these pages will already know yours truly previously owned a 2003 Tahoe LT (the GMT800 generation). Aboard the current version, things feel immediately familiar. From the long throw of the column-mounted shifter to a seating position slightly off-center to the steering wheel, everything falls quickly to hand. The interior design has progressed from right angles into more organic shapes comprised of materials that appear to be of a higher quality.

Not to get too carried away with praise here; the dash materials are varied in their texture, gloss, and quality. Mixed hard and soft touch surfaces accompany said textures across the front of the cabin. Poorly finished silver trim highlighted the driver’s side vent. Center console and doors fore and aft are flanked by some awful looking faux wood.

Do better, Chevrolet.

Seats in the first two rows are captains chairs in this trim, boasting more shape and bolstering than in years past. In an apparent attempt to assist durability, the leather quality between seat bottom and bolster differed. Side bolsters are covered in a much harder leather that doesn’t feel nice to the touch. The different material is visible to the eye, and it’s not very aesthetically pleasing. Entry of busy feet into the second rows will find the door apertures a bit tight, as was true in Tahoes past.

Interior storage at the front of the cabin is good. Doors feature two different levels of item storage, and the center console is like a big bucket, one which can accommodate a handbag and umbrella, some iPads, or perhaps a small electric typewriter. A gripe about the long, column-mount shift lever (which felt sloppy and loose): It impedes center screen access when in Drive, requiring the driver to reach around it to avoid tapping it with a right hand.

Across Cornfields

The Tahoe proved itself a mixed bag across the expanse of Indiana, where construction zones on highways are interspersed with potholed urban roads in places like Evansville and Indianapolis. There are some situations where the Tahoe is enjoyable to drive: straight highways where the roads are smooth and have gentle elevation changes, for example. In those circumstances, the Tahoe bounds along the road on its chunky tires, feeling large and in charge with its commanding driving position. Nice.

However, at highway speeds above 60 or so, noise makes its way into the cabin. While noise from the engine is muted, tires and wind make themselves known. Most prevalent is wind noise around the pillars and mirrors, which means raising one’s voice for conversation.

At lower speeds, the aforementioned rough roads create a new issue. Imperfections cause shudders throughout the cabin just like the old GMT800 of nearly two decades ago. The shocks aren’t able to suppress road imperfections, so there’s plentiful pitching to and fro. To cope with the lack of chassis refinement, engineers turned to a soft suspension setup. That means corners are an exercise in serious speed reduction. That, or prepare for some lean.

The driver’s seat comes up a bit short after a few hours of driving. GM offers fairly extensive seat position adjustment, especially with regard to height. But the power lumbar moves only in and out, and is not adjustable up and down. And even with additional bolstering over prior-gen seats, chairs still prove too flat for long-distance comfort. Leg aches ensue.

The comfort situation is made worse by an oddity in the pedal setup. The vertical distance between the accelerator and brake pedal is considerable; more so than in any other vehicle in your author’s memory. That means lifting one’s right foot fairly high in situations where the driver is covering the brakes — like in stop-and-go traffic. The brake pedal is a bit mushy, as one might expect from a truck, and the throttle tip-in is a bit lazy as well. It always feels like considerable pedal travel is required to get those 5,400-ish pounds up and moving.

More positive is the effort of the warhorse 5.3-liter V8. Most times, it’s a distant rumble, but it makes its voice known when pressed into action. Acceleration is… adequate. The engine pulls strongly, but it feels as if there just aren’t enough horses to go around. It’s odd to watch a neighboring Sienna pull away at a light and then feel how hard the 5.3L works to keep pace. The 6-speed automatic does an admirable job in most driving situations, shifting smoothly through the gears. When urgent acceleration is requested (like to keep up with a Sienna), the box gets a bit flummoxed and jerks down through the gears with much less smoothness. Steering is nicely weighted, though feel is absent except when jarring bumps come through the wheel.

The center screen presents infotainment, and is straightforward in operation. Critically, climate control functions are duplicated with actual buttons and dials. The climate control is a highlight here, as the A/C can cool the large living area of the Tahoe without a fuss, even on a humid 94 degree day. One irritation occurs with a navigation system that takes 10 to 15 seconds to load upon startup. Other systems are much faster to present a map. Route guidance does not provide upcoming instructions with the same advance warning each time, and can be confused by a complicated junction. The radio is Bose and sounds fine. However, with the near constant noise inside the cabin, more volume is often required.

GM adds layers of electronic nannies to assist in Tahoe enjoyment and livability. Lane keep assist is present, as well as collision avoidance and parking sensors. On the highway, the lane assistance is a helping hand. It means fewer small corrections for the driver as the Tahoe pulls itself away from the painted lines. Warnings for lane and collision are delivered via vibration through the driver’s seat and with on-screen warnings, as necessary. The collision system goes a step further, projecting a red flashing light on the windscreen if a driver gets too close to the car in front without applying the brakes.

While the driver assist systems are effective, the parking sensors were a letdown. They work fine for reversing, but GM didn’t feel like putting any up front. Pulling the tall Tahoe close to a curb, shrubs, or other car would be more pleasant with front parking sensor assistance. Also lacking is a blind spot monitoring system, which should absolutely be standard across Tahoe-size vehicles in 2019.

The $57,000 Conclusion

The Tahoe costs a lot of money, even in this one-from-base LT trim. For that kind of coin, there are plenty of other vehicles which will seat seven people. And they’ll consume less gasoline, be more engaging to drive, easier to live with in daily life situations, or all three. The current Tahoe is a constant reminder of the past. Buyers should arrive with an expectation of some progress in a vehicle after two decades and two generations.

Not much has changed.

[Images: Corey Lewis / TTAC]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Jun 15, 2019

    Had one of these as a rental in Roanoke, VA earlier in the year. Pretty loaded, leather and all the trimmings, even a sunroof, IIRC. My biggest gripe is you can't see out the back of it with the (uselessly cramped) 3rd row seats in place. And the serious lack of handling and braking ability. And the 14mpg I got with it driving gently around town for a few days. I'd rather have one than a pickup truck, but that isn't saying much. I guess if you really need to tow you just have to put up with it the rest of the time. I too would prefer the long version - might as well go all the way.

  • Webebob Webebob on Jun 19, 2019

    I parked next to one of these, driving a RAV4 yesterday, totally dwarfed. I thought "wow, what a land yacht!" But then i remembered trying to get into an Escalade's rear passenger doors a few years ago: WTF! the truck is so poorly designed that you have to wedge your feet around the pillar to swing into the rear seats! All that size, and poor ergonomics for the ingress/egress of passengers. Sad.

  • Cprescott This is what happens when you are an early adopter. You are a test subject. Why do Toyoduh (and Honduh) owners feel so entitled?
  • Kosmo Love it. Can I get one with something other than Subaru's flat four?
  • M B When the NorthStar happened, it was a part of GM's "rebuilding" of the Cadillac brand. Money to finance it was shuffled from Oldsmobile, which resulted in Olds having to only facelift its products, which BEGAN its slide down the mountain. Olds stagnated in product and appearances.First time I looked at the GM Parts illustration of a NorthStar V-8, I was impressed AND immediately saw the many things that were expensive, costly to produce, and could have been done less expensively. I saw it as an expensive disaster getting ready to happen. Way too much over-kill for the typical Cadillac owner of the time.Even so, there were a few areas where cost-cutting seemed to exist. The production gasket/seal between the main bearing plate and the block was not substantial enough to prevent seeps. At the time, about $1500.00 to fix.In many ways, the NS engine was designed to make far more power than it did. I ran across an article on a man who was building kits to put the NS in Chevy S-10 pickups. With his home-built 4bbl intake and a 600cfm Holley 4bbl, suddenly . . . 400 horsepower resulted. Seems the low hood line resulted in manifolding compromises which decreased the production power levels.GM was seeking to out-do its foreign competitors with the NS design and execution. In many ways they did, just that FEW people noticed.
  • Redapple2 Do Hybrids and be done with it.
  • Redapple2 Panamera = road porn.