NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – With summer drawing to a close here in Toronto, we wanted to get one last road trip in, and this one would be our biggest yet. It involves my wife and I heading from Toronto all the way to southern Tennessee to indulge in some southern hospitality. Our travelling companion of choice would be a full-jam 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe LTZ Premier. The Tahoe and its close siblings almost always top the list of ideal family road trip vehicles, so this would be a good opportunity to find out firsthand how it really does over hours of endless highway.
One of the Tahoe’s biggest assets when it comes to these family road trips is the sheer amount of interior space. Our five day trip required two full-sized suitcases and a multitude of additional bags, coolers and other “just in case” items. With the third row folded flat, the Tahoe easily handled all of our stuff and still allowed plenty of room in the first and second rows for passengers. One thing that does distract a little bit from the truck’s utility is the sloped rear loading floor. It’s sloped towards the rear so you need to be careful that items don’t slide out when the tailgate is opened.
Once loaded up, we pointed the Tahoe south and hit the highway. Overcast skies made for great driving conditions and allowed us to really appreciate the big Tahoe’s refined highway manners. Despite its rugged full-frame build, the Magnetic Ride Control keeps the Tahoe smoothly gliding along the highway in silence just eating away the miles. On-centre steering feel is tight and even with the huge chrome 22” wheels and 285-series rubber, the truck tracks very well requiring very little steering input to keep it in the lane. To make the long distance drive even easier, this top tier Premier trim comes with adaptive cruise control and the enhanced heads-up display, letting you keep your eyes on the road while the Tahoe takes care of the rest.
We made a quick stop before crossing the border into Michigan and South down I-75. As the hours passed, the perforated leather seats kept us in complete comfort, with no pain points or muscle fatiguing even after hours behind the wheel. The ventilated seats also proved to be a handy feature, especially as the temperature started to climb well into the 30s (Celsius) as we got further south. The rear BluRay and DVD system keeps passengers occupied through some of the longer stretches, and the abundance of USB ports kept all our devices charged up, including a laptop via the 110V household outlet conveniently located on the rear of the centre console.
Once over the border the truck’s 4G LTE WiFi allowed us to continue using our devices to navigate, just like at home; truly an underappreciated feature that seems simple and yet can be invaluable away from home. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard fare here.
Our first gas stop was an impressive 750km into our trip, where we filled the Tahoe with about $60 worth of 87-octane. Even so, we weren’t burning much with the Tahoe’s average for the total trip at 11.1.L/100km. Pretty impressive for a truck as big and capable as the Tahoe, with heavy air conditioning use and a fair bit of touring around in our destination cities. The truck is happy on regular grade fuel, and the Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation seamlessly kept the 5.3L V8 in four cylinder mode for much of our highway cruising.
After gassing up we rolled another couple hours into Louisville, Kentucky and stopped for dinner at a great little BBQ place near the downtown centre. As the sun began to set, we got back on the road for the last stretch into Nashville, and as the unfamiliar roads got dark and lonely the Tahoe kept us feeling safe and comfortable. Automatic high-beam control teamed with the projector xenon lamps came in handy here keeping the road well-lit and inspiring confidence despite the numerous animal crossing signs all the way through Kentucky and into Tennessee.
The next night we attended a concert at the Famed Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville, known as the “Mother Church of Country Music”. This is an incredible venue with amazing history and world class acoustics. If you’re a country music fan, the experience alone is worth the trip. The Tahoe served as our chariot to and from the show; its Blue Velvet Metallic paint and gorgeous optional 22” chrome (and pricey at $3,195) wheels glimmering in the neon lights of Lower Broadway, again the Tahoe proved to be the perfect vehicle for the occasion. As equipped, this Tahoe really stood out, but it was interesting to note that these full-sized GM SUVs are extremely popular in the Southern states, and could be seen at just about every intersection in the Nashville area.
Next up, we loaded the Tahoe and got back on the highway for the three hour drive to Memphis for the First Annual Classic Industries F-body Nationals. Being the first show of its kind, attendance was a little low, but the event at Memphis International Speedway was extremely well run and featured a show & shine, autocross and 1/8 mile drag racing, along with the first Camaro to ever roll off the assembly line, a gold 1967 with VIN 00001 in immaculate shape. We broke up the 16 hour drive from Memphis back home into two days, with a night in Cincinnati, Ohio. The final stretch of the drive home threw some torrential downpours at us, but of course the Tahoe persevered handling the adverse conditions without breaking a sweat to deliver us home safely.
After 3500km over five days I got a chance to intimately know the Tahoe, and can say with confidence that it really is the ultimate road trip companion. We might have only hauled two people and luggage, but the fact that this truck could handle a similar trip while towing a family boat, a race car, or loaded with ski equipment, is why the Tahoe and its variants are so popular with adventurous families.
All of this comfort and capability does come at a price though. This fully loaded truck carries an MSRP of $84,980 and the base price for even a stripped down two-wheel drive model sits at $54,520. However, powered by the well sorted, and known reliable 5.3L V8 with 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft. of torque, these trucks are known to last a long time. Making an investment in a highly capable and reliable truck such as this that’s likely to last a family many years and countless road trips and adventures, is a good way to go. Buy it right, buy it once.