2015 GM Full-Size SUVs
Full-size, truck-based SUVs may have given way to car-style crossovers for most families, but if you’ve got big toys to tow or lots to haul, a big SUV is still the best game in town. But success also depends on matching crossovers in ease of driving, convenience, and comfort. Being more fuel efficient is a must too. Well, General Motors is looking to do all of that with an all-new Tahoe, Suburban, and Yukon. Let’s see if they do.
With last fall’s arrival of the all-new Silverado and Sierra full-size pick-up trucks, we knew it would not be long before the sport-utility wave arrived; the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban, GMC Yukon, and Yukon XL.
Big utes ready to do the big jobs that more refined crossovers just can’t handle. But, previous Tahoes, Burbs, and Yukons drove…well…like a truck! Feeling cumbersome in heavy traffic and always a step behind in refinement. And then there was their marginal fuel economy.
But one drive and we knew that these new SUVs, based on the new Silverado, which is easily the most refined truck available today, have indeed seen the light.
Let’s start with the Chevrolet Tahoe, America’s bestselling full-size sport- utility vehicle. While recognizable, everything you see is fresh as it blends the best of the Silverado with the Tahoe’s heritage. Still big and muscular, yet more aerodynamic, if also more slab sided. 18-inch wheels are standard, 20’s and even 22’s are available.
The Chevy Suburban adds 14-inches more wheelbase, and over 20 to the overall length.
Moving to GMC and the Yukon and Yukon XL; as before they share the same designs of their bowtie brothers, with different details, mostly up front in unique headlights and grillwork.
Upgrading to Yukon Denali trim, however, which a lot of GMC buyers do, adds lots of bling both inside and out.
These big brutes share the same standard powertrain starting with GM’s new EcoTec 5.3-liter pushrod V8 with 355-hosepower and 383 lb-ft. of torque. Bolted behind is a 6-speed automatic with manual shift mode. The combo tows up to 8,600-pounds when properly equipped.
Stepping up to Denali adds unique power, an EcoTec 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8. Hi-Lo electronic 4X4 hardware comes straight over from the Silverado and Sierra.
The interior layout and gauge cluster also shows kinship with the pickups, which is a good thing. However, the styling here is less blocky which we find more appealing. Material quality is quite good although it does vary a lot between brands and trims. One can sit as many as 9 or as few as 6.
There’s more legroom in the 2nd row, and access to the standard 3rd row is much improved. In “keeping up with the crossovers” spirit, all seats now fold more easily, and one no longer needs to remove and store the back row for maximum cargo room.
But, this new level of finesse actually causes that to decline. With a higher load floor, the Tahoe rates 94.7 cubic feet with all seats down, a drop of 14.7 cubic feet, and Suburban maxes at 121.1, a downsize of 16.4 cubic feet. Still, the new ‘burb can carries more than any crossover ever. Plus, there’s a new small item storage bay hidden under the load floor.
All variants can come equipped with 8-inch touch screen audio, with either Chevrolet’s MyLink or GMC’s IntelliLink connectivity, and up to 6 USB ports.
We recently spent drive time in Northern California with all of these trucks and found that much like the Silverado; ride quality and body rigidity have improved immensely. Not quite enough to fool you into thinking you’re in a crossover, but pretty close and they feel very solid. Plus, the extremely quiet interior will certainly give family crossovers a run for their money; and maybe even a few luxury ones as well.
As for the Government Fuel Economy Ratings, they’ve also gotten pretty darn near crossover territory, with a 5.3-liter Tahoe 2-wheel-drive netting 16-City, 23-Highway, and 18-Combined. The Energy Impact Score comes in at 18.3-barrels of annual oil use with 8.0-tons worth of CO2 emissions.
As you might expect, there’s a wide range in pricing, with a base Tahoe starting at $45,595. Suburbans start at $48,295, Yukons at $47,330, Yukon XLs at $50,030, and Yukon Denalis at $63,675. 4-wheel-drive will cost you an additional $3-grand.
So, we find the 2015 GM suite of full-size SUVs to not only still be relevant, but to have seriously narrowed the expectations gap with crossovers while losing only a modest amount of cargo space. That’s a good thing for families that need lots of capability, but also want lots of refinement. And a good thing for GM as their full-size SUV’s will keep truckin’ on as the really big utes to buy.
- Engine: 5.3-liter
- Horsepower: 355
- Torque: 383 lb-ft.
- EPA: 16 mpg city/ 23 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 18.3 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 8.0 tons/yr