I don’t talk about cars too often here, but I love cars. I love to drive, and I love everything silly about cars. I had hoped that when I leased my last car (2019 BMW 540i) by the time I would get my next car, EVs would be viable. They were not, at least not for me, and I think not for many people — they are certainly at a turning point, perhaps next cycle.
So instead of an EV I got one of the most non-EV cars out there: a 2022 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 with 6.2L V8. Yeah.
Thing is, this is one of my favorite cars I have ever owned, and I want to share with you why.
Specs and Such
I am not going to dive deep into the specs, instead I want to highlight a few key things. Some of these are standard on the Z71 model, some are optional add ons, but each of these four things are items I would not have bought this car without.
- The 6.2L V8: it comes standard with a 5.3L V8 which is plenty big, but these are naturally aspirated engines (which seem kind of rare these days) and thus they don’t make monstrous power. I read many reviews and they all stated that at times the 5.3L was wanting for power, so I made sure to get the larger engine. It has a displacement of 420 hp (5600 rpm), and 460 lb-ft of torque (4100 rpm). Nothing wild here about it, but pairing that with the 10 speed automatic gearbox makes for a vehicle which doesn’t feel gut-less.
- Adaptive Air Ride: This is becoming more common on cars, and I love this shit. My 1998 Range Rover had it, and it was amazing back then, even more amazing now. Basically air ride gives you two primary features: raise/lower the vehicle on the fly; level the vehicle automatically. This means that if you shove the car full of heavy stuff in the very back, it won’t ride squatty. It also means that if you off road you can raise the height of the vehicle (it can and will lower when you park too). Overall I love this.
- Magnetic Ride Control: I was not sure what to make of this, but I am sold. This is a dynamic and tunable shock absorber system. The car should adjust to road conditions. But I can also toggle a switch in the car and adjust the firmness as well. Changing the car from ‘normal’ to ‘sport’ takes you from a floating down the road feeling, to a ‘oh there’s a bump’ feeling. It’s freaky how fast this happens. This is worth whatever it cost, I love this. No going back.
- 360° Camera: I first saw this in a Ford Raptor, and I fell in love and swore my next car would get it. So I got it in the Tahoe. I don’t think I could park and drive this as easily as I do without this camera system. Basically it looks like there’s a drone flying above you, allowing you to see all the way around your car with a live video feed. In reality it’s a set of wide angle cameras being stitched together. Tremendous.
Driving / Commuting / Day to Day
I was worried about driving this into downtown everyday, and how it would be long term on the highway. The short version is that it’s better to commute in this than my BMW in almost every way.
- I mentioned above, but the suspension on this is amazing. The roads are not that great in Houston, and this car eats up the bumps like candy. It’s really a comfortable car to drive in.
- The power is solid, but nothing amazing. I have enough for average passing, but it does start to top out at the higher end where something like a BMW would just start to be feeling at home.
- Cornering at speed without the ride control set to sport, well it feels very tippy like that.
- The tires this comes with are shit. I am torn daily between driving them until I need new ones, or biting the bullet and buying a new set now.
- The MPG is not as bad as I feared, but far from amazing. I average (combined driving) around 18 MPG. Is that awful? No? Is it good? Hell no?
- The range though is fantastic, as the gas tank is large enough to help prop up gas stocks.
- The CarPlay setup is through Android Auto which appears to be the OS on the car. Android Auto is garbage, slow, and I hate it. It adds chrome around the CarPlay interface too. CarPlay though is lovely, wireless, and fast.
- There’s WiFi in the car. I thought it was a gimmick, but lo and behold I love it.
I’ve yet to have issues parking it, since the cameras allow me to see better than I could with my BMW. So in a lot of ways it is easier to park than my smaller BMW since I have much better visibility of the corners on the Tahoe.
Space & Road Tripping
This car is big, and part of what I wanted this car for was taking the family around on road trips. We have one under our belts with the Tahoe, and it was fantastically easy and comfortable for all.
The cargo storage area is massive:
I grabbed a Canvasback cargo mat after realizing the Chevrolet one is a pile of shit. With that in place, everything is really nice. One modification to this generation of the Tahoe is that there’s added space behind the 3rd row when it is up. And it’s plenty of space behind it now for most uses.
A few more random notes:
- The front seats are narrower than you might expect for how large this car is. And they are not nearly as comfortable as a nice BMW/Audi/Mercedes seat. They are not bad, but when you know what you are missing, you know there is better out there.
- The rear seats in the captains chair configuration are amazing. There’s plenty of room, and my wife has remarked a few times how she prefers to ride back there.
- The third row is highly useable, I’ve stuffed 6 adults in this car a few times.
- I do wish there was more hidden cargo storage, as there is only a small tray in the back. That’s a bummer, and a small miss in my book.
- There’s a billion pockets on the door. Weird.
- The center console is comically large.
Not a lot I dislike, and overall the finishing is much better than I expected, and the car handles the rough and tumble if taking kids to school very well.
Physical Vehicle Size
Make no mistake, this is a large vehicle:
Which is why you need those 360° cameras.
This might be my favorite vehicle I have owned. I’ve owned a lot of vehicles over the years, and my wife currently drives a very nice X5 with all the options. That was the car I was looking at getting instead of this, but having driven both, I prefer the Tahoe. It’s not a better car for drivers. But it is a better car for American families, because our roads, traffic, and driving styles are made for vehicles like this.
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