The Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 Midnight Edition. (Courtesy Chevrolet)
Tahoe Z71 Midnight Edition has menacing good looks, lots of extras
By G. CHAMBERS WILLIAMS III
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
My recent weeklong test of the Chevrolet Tahoe LT Z71 Midnight Edition was actually kind of fun.
Not just because the Tahoe is a great SUV, especially for a family, although it most-certainly is. And not just because it looked so cool with its jet-black exterior and blacked wheels and body trim.
It was because, where I live, it also looks just like a police car. The cops drive black Tahoes with black wheels, and they're quite official-looking. Apparently my Tahoe looked enough like some of the ones the area's gendarmes drive that I was instilling fear in the drivers around me on the highway. Almost nobody dared even to pass me.
The only minus was that other traffic would bunch up around me on the freeway so I couldn't pass anyone else, either, which got to be a bit annoying at times. Beyond that, there really wasn't anything to dislike about the Tahoe LT.
The Tahoe and its siblings, the GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade, got their last complete makeover for 2015, and the Midnight Edition package was added a year later. It's also available on the Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab pickup, which is almost the same vehicle underneath as the Tahoe — it just has the cargo area turned into an open truck bed. The Silverado Midnight Edition has much the same look as the Tahoe, with the same black wheels and trim.
All of these big SUVs are assembled at the General Motors Arlington plant, and because of the lower gasoline prices we've been enjoying most of the past three years, they're helping to drive up sales for GM. They're boosting profits, as well, because they typically net a lot more money per unit to the automaker than its less-expensive cars and crossovers do.
Our Tahoe tester was the four-wheel-drive version of the LT trim level, with a base price of $55,455 (plus $1,295 freight) before adding the Z71 Midnight Edition Package ($2,630). That brought the 18-inch black-painted aluminum wheels, blackwall Duratec tires, black tubular assist steps, black roof rack, recovery hooks, underbody skid plates, fog lights, front and rear parking assist, 3.42 rear axle ratio, Autotrac active two-speed transfer case, hill-descent control, front and rear black Chevy bowties, Z71 grille decals, high-capacity air cleaner and Z71 rubber floor mats.
The vehicle also came with a black interior and two more packages: Sun, Entertainment, Destination ($3,210), with power sunroof, MyLink audio/navigation with eight-inch color touch screen, and rear-seat entertainment; and Luxury ($2,995), which added passive entry with remote keyless start, heated second-row 60/40 split bench seat with power release, third-row 60/40 split bench seat with power fold, power tilt/telescopic steering column, heated steering wheel, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change alert with side blind-zone alert, power/heated outside mirrors with turn signals, hands-free power liftgate, and wireless charging.
All of this raised the Tahoe Z71 LT Midnight Edition's total price to $65,085, including freight, options and a $500 discount on the Sun/Entertainment/Destinations package (2017 prices).
Although our tester was the 2017 model, the Midnight Edition returns for 2018 in the same configuration.
Our Tahoe was powered by a 5.3-liter Ecotec3 V-8 engine with 355 horsepower and 383 foot-pounds of torque. It was paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, although Chevrolet now offers a 10-speed automatic with the Tahoe's optional 6.2-liter V-8.
With its three rows of seats, the Tahoe can carry up to eight passengers. The cargo area behind the third row is 15.3 cubic feet, about the size of a trunk in a midsize sedan.
With the third row folded, it expands to 51.7 cubic feet; or with both rear seats folded, there is 94.7 cubic feet of cargo space.
For 2018, Tahoe base prices begin at $48,745 (plus $1,295 freight) for the base two-wheel-drive LS model.
The Tahoe is available with rear- or four-wheel drive at all trim levels. There is a rotary dial on the dash to the left of the steering column that has setting for 2WD, Automatic, 4WD High or 4WD Low. That means there is a low-range setting for serious off-road driving, although not many people would put such an expensive vehicle into such a situation.
This newest Tahoe features a quieter cabin, smoother performance and more-efficient powertrain than the previous generation, EPA ratings for our four-wheel-drive Z71 were 16 mpg city/22 highway/18 combined. During our test, with about a 60-40 mix of highway-city driving, were actually averaged nearly 19 mpg.
The Tahoe isn't as quiet at highway speeds as its Escalade sibling, though, as my middle-row passengers had a hard time carrying on a conversation with me in the driver's seat at highway speeds without me having to raise my voice. Or maybe they're just hard of hearing.
There are several subtle exterior changes, including a new grille. But the redesigned model is clearly recognizable as a Yukon, although as with its siblings, it's boxier and less-rounded than the previous model.