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2007 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon

The Bigger They Are…

   The more petroleum they burn. But GM is working hard to change that, just as they have been hard at work preparing the new GMT900 full-size utilities for primetime. And determined to get feedback on their handiwork, GM hooked us up with back-to-back samplings of the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon. Here’s how they fared.
     “Impressive” was the word first uttered while we stood in the shadow of the massive Tahoe. The lines are clean, crisp and smooth. The front end is muscular with a stance tall and wide enough to fill all but the largest of rear view mirrors. But by no means was it the size alone that was impressive. The body panels are joined together cleanly with tight, even gaps. The front bumper and grille are molded together as one piece, eliminating the wide gaps of the previous generation. Our LTZ model Tahoe, dressed in the automotive equivalent of a black tuxedo, looked stunning. Sparkling clear headlamps and huge 20” polished aluminum wheels accented the already prominent Bow Tie. The prominently squared-off hood blends backwards into twin power bulges on either side. The Yukon on the other hand, while outfitted with much of the same sheetmetal, has a softer look, with its gentler, more rounded face and lack of hood bulges. Instead of a chiseled front clip, the Yukon has a smoothly blended premium appearance with the headlight clusters stacked in vertical arrangement. Our GMC model also wore the top-of-the-line duds in SLT trim, and came standard with 20” 6-spoke polished aluminum wheels. If you want bold and aggressive, chose the Tahoe. Industrial minded folks will prefer the reserved look of the Yukon, however.
     No matter which you choose you should find the interior equally inviting. Gone is the upright flat panel dashboard and in its place is a more open, relaxed cabin. The new instrument panel is cleaner and vastly more integrated, not a bunch of pieces clumsily put together. The HVAC and nav/radio are lower and easier to reach. The nav system utilizes both touch screen and hard buttons for opening menus and such. Adjusting the radio is a bit clumsy with the two itty-bitty knobs for volume and tuning, but we managed. With gloves on, however, these tasks will get tricky. The steering wheel is loaded with a plethora of auxiliary buttons but remains altogether stylish. One complaint remains outstanding here: the steering column is positioned at a bit of an angle away from the dash with the face of it sweeping towards the driver’s door a bit. It is a tad awkward and makes one wonder why they couldn’t adjust that better while designing the new platform. The gauge cluster is attractive and highly legible. Improved interior materials move the new Utes to the front of the class. Our particular Tahoe featured the Ebony black interior, which some of us found a bit dark, especially with the faux wood trim. But option choices can easily fix that, as evidenced by our Yukon in light titanium. What differentiates Chevrolet vs. GMC guise inside? From what we could see only a greater use of metallic pieces in the GMC and an emblem change makes the distinction. Rear seat accommodations seemed to be your standard fare, cushy couches. The Tahoe had the optional bucket seats, which we prefer, while the Yukon featured the standard bench. Both, however, used the electronic auto-fold-and-tip feature to aid ingress/egress to the back seat. Push the C-pillar mounted button and the respectable center seats will fold down and tip up on their own. Once in, however, you must return the seat to its original position yourself. Very handy, but with a live rear axle the 3rd row seats still calls for children only or a knee in the chest sitting position. And still no disappearing seat act. To accommodate extra cargo one must fold, tip, or remove the seats altogether, and they aren’t light. The latest must-have convenience, a power liftgate, is available for $350. Another notable option is the rear-view camera system. Only our Chevrolet featured this, but at $195 this option rings up the as the most value driven feature to come along in quite a while. A small camera is mounted above the rear license plate bracket and displays on the Nav screen what is behind the vehicle and below the driver’s normal line of vision. A very handy option if young children inhabit your place of residence or not crushing small cars is a personal goal.
     So with all this stuff onboard you are probably asking what is motivating these trucks. Popping the hood of either truck reveals a 5.3-liter V8 tucked neatly between the frame rails. Mated to a Hydra-Matic 4L60 4-speed automatic this small-block puts down 320 horsepower and 340 lb-ft of torque. For right now the 4-speed tranny is a carryover item, as only the Escalade and Denali’s are receiving the new 6-speed. Expect a trickle down effect soon or later. At 5,537 pounds this motor has plenty to move around, but it does so without complaint. Of course, your very next question is about the gas mileage, and we are happy to report that it isn’t as bad as you think. GM knows that the prospect of $3-a-gallon gas sticking around indefinitely has buyers of these brutes wavering a bit and has been tweaking and tuning to ensure that they get the most out of every drop. But lets face the facts of physics, the bigger they are the more energy it takes to move them. The 5.3-liter is more than adequate for the job at hand, so when the extra power just isn’t needed, like when cruising down the interstate, a neat system called Active Fuel Management can cut the fuel supply off from four of the eight cylinders. Does it work? The switch between V8-V4 modes is incredibly transparent with the only telltale sign that half your motor is taking a coffee break is a display on the dash that says V8 or V4. Expressway driving didn’t yield as much V4 time as we expected, or hoped for, but general highway at 55-60 mph had the engine running in reduced power mode often. We didn’t achieve the 21-mpg that our window sticker claims, but our right feet tend to be heavy. We can confidently say these trucks will stretch your dollar as much as they can.
     Trying for an environmental impact? These trucks probably aren’t the vehicles to do that in, but both the Tahoe and Yukon we sampled were E85 capable. Just don’t expect as good of mileage or power. As for driving dynamics, we give everything a thumbs up. Efforts were up on both braking and steering inputs. Steering had a solid on-center feel while the brake pedal didn’t suffer from the squishiness that its forebears endured. Both systems were responsive with ample feedback and inspired a confidence that was lacking in previous models. Aiding the Tahoe’s movements was the optional Autoride system, which effectively adjusts the dampening coefficients per the terrain conditions to further tighten and control body movements.
     Both the Tahoe and the Yukon thoroughly impressed our staff. At $52,080 and $50,425 for the Tahoe and Yukon respectively, these utes are not cheap. But considering the long list of options both these trucks carry, $13,540 worth for the Tahoe and $11,585 for the Yukon, it is easy to see that one could easily trim some undesired fat. A base model Tahoe LS starts at $33,990, whereas our top line Tahoe LTZ and Yukon SLT carried about all the options you could check. These trucks go a long ways in showing just how much attention to detail GM can muster. If these trucks don’t sell well it’s not their fault. Continue to check in with us as we sample the rest of the GMT900 truck line as they are released, starting with the Yukon Denali and the 403-horsepower Cadillac Escalade to be reviewed next month.

The Good:
Fresh design, V8-V4 mode engine, rear-view camera is useful and cheap.
The Bad:
4-speed auto is carryover, steering column is angled funny, 3rd row doesn’t disappear.
The Verdict:
A solid dynamic package with a tech happy motor and class-leading interior , but two more gears please.


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