Chevrolet Tahoe Fourth Generation Facelift
The fourth-generation Chevrolet Tahoe wasn't on sale long enough to receive a facelift. Five years is a relatively short lifecycle for a car, but there is good reason for it. The Tahoe is based on the Silverado pickup, and Chevy introduced an all-new version of the truck to coincide with its centennial anniversary in 2018. The Tahoe could not continue on for much longer on the old truck's platform, so it was replaced two years later in 2020. There is no official facelifted model year, but Chevy made constant updates to the bits underneath the fairly handsome body. It's worth keeping these updates in mind when shopping for one.
The 2015 model comes with Wi-Fi via a 4G sim, a hands-free power tailgate, and navigation on the LTZ trim. The 2016 model Chevy dropped the old CD infotainment system and gave all models an eight-inch touchscreen display with Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard from 2016 onward. In 2017, Chevy added the Teen Driver system and low-speed forward automatic braking. 2018 models all come standard with LED daytime running lights, but the big news is the availability of a 6.2-liter V8. It is an optional extra for the RST trim. For 2019, the Premier trim received a redesigned tailgate badge and for 2020, Chevy simply added new colors.
Tahoe 4th Generation Rear View
Tahoe 4th Generation Side View
Engine, Transmission, and Drivetrain
There is technically only one engine available, though Chevy introduced a powerful 6.2-liter V8 as an optional extra in 2018. Most used models are equipped with the well-known naturally aspirated 5.3-liter V8 producing 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. While the output is average at best, this V8 is known for being a beast in towing. Tahoes equipped with RWD can tow up to 8,600 lbs, while 4WD models take a 200-pound penalty. The L83 V8 engine was also offered in flex-fuel format for all model years from 2015 to 2020, allowing it to run on E85.
As mentioned above, the Tahoe is available in 4x2 and 4x4. The 4WD system is fairly advanced, as it comes with RWD and an Automatic setting. This means you can use a 4WD Tahoe on tarmac without worrying about drivetrain lockup. You can also lock it in 4H and low range. All models could be equipped with the 4WD system as optional, but customers could also go a step further and add the Z71 Package to the LT trim. This makes the Tahoe even better off-road thanks to skid plates, an off-road biased suspension, and hill descent control.
In 2018 Chevrolet introduced the RST Performance Edition. It was only available on the top-spec Premier, but the changes are significant. It adds a 6.2-liter V8 producing 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque and, crucially, a ten-speed automatic transmission and a sportier suspension setup. The 5.3 V8 is only available with a six-speed automatic transmission that is tuned for fuel efficiency, which, in an SUV this size, is like trying to ice skate uphill. It's just not gonna happen. The throttle response is also slow and it's dimwitted for the same reason.
4th Gen Chevy Tahoe Real MPG
The main problem with this engine in the 4th-gen Tahoe is availability. It only became an option on the top-spec trim for the 2018 model year and was available until the final 2020 model year. They are out there, but expect to pay a hefty premium. With this engine under the hood, the Tahoe cruises effortlessly. The ten-speed gearbox makes an actual difference, especially on the freeway. In town, you can show posers in their suped-up hot hatches who the real boss is. The engine shares most of its technology and features with the L83, down to the direct injection and cylinder deactivation. Its problems are also similar.
* Real-world mpg and MPGe figures are provided by the EPA. Once a car has been on sale for a significant period of time, the EPA gets real-world figures directly from the customer base. These figures are then provided on the EPA website. Real-world figures are not available for certain models due to a lack of sales, or not enough people partaking in this after-sales survey.
All models have ABS brakes, traction and stability control with trailer-sway control, at least six airbags (an additional airbag between the front bucket seats if so specified), rear park assist, a rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, and Chevy's OnStar automatic crash-notification system. The LT adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, the LS' optional Driver Alert package with its forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, power-adjustable pedals, and vibrating safety-alert driver's seat. For 2016 trims, the newly optional head-up display could have been fitted, or lane-departure intervention. All 2017 Tahoes have automatic low-speed emergency braking, a Teen Driver feature, and a reminder system alerting the driver to check the rear seats for child occupants.
US NHTSA Crash Test Result (2020)
The Tahoe scores overall and frontal-impact ratings of four out of five stars. In the side impact it scores the full five stars, but the overall rating is dragged down by the three-star rollover test.
2015-2020 Chevy Tahoe Trims
Technically, there are four trims, while another two were only available as optional packages based on existing trim levels. The Z71 Off-Road Package is only available on the LT trim, and it adds off-road tires, skid plates, a model-specific rugged suspension, and hill-descent control. The RST Performance Edition is the only model available with the 6.2 V8, but it's also a package based on the Premier trim. From the start, all trims were prewired for towing and have a two-inch hitch receiver, further enhanced with an optional Max Trailering Package that comes with altered gear ratios, high-capacity air suspension, and a trailer-brake controller. For 2016, an updated MyLink infotainment system with an eight-inch touchscreen and a 4G/LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability and Apple CarPlay is standard on all trims and a reconfigurable instrument cluster is optionally available. For 2017, the optional rear-seat entertainment system is improved, Android Auto added to the infotainment system, and active grille shutters are fitted to all trims to improve fuel consumption.
The Tahoe was made to be practical, offering between nine and seven seats. The base LT is available with a three-row bench in the front, with two passengers seated next to the driver. On the top-spec Premier, you get second-row captain's chairs as standard. The third-row seats are only suitable for kids, however. Still, the Tahoe is more than big enough for a family of five that occasionally provides lifts to other kids to and from school. The first and second rows supply loads of space. Only NBA players would complain.
Cargo capacity behind the third row is limited. Rated at 15.3 cubic feet, it's big enough for a weekly grocery shop or the kids' school bags, but not both. Fold the third row flat and you get 51.7 cubes. Now that's large enough for a monthly grocery shop and an entire pre-school class' school bags. On the odd occasions when you need to transport a bicycle or canoe, all the seats fold fully flat to provide 94.7 cubes.
The interior is refined and quiet at all speeds. With the optional 22-inch wheels, the ride can be jarring, but for the most part, the Tahoe provides a smooth, predictable ride. Unlike the Silverado, the Tahoe has a good-quality interior. It's not up there with the Germans, but the quality of the materials is fine. Ergonomically, it's excellent. The layout of the controls is perfect, and the later addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes the Tahoe even easier to live with. It negates the need to go up a trim to gain access to navigation, as you can simply use a third-party app like Waze.
4th Generation Chevrolet Tahoe Maintenance and Cost
The Chevrolet Tahoe is an easy car to keep on the road. There are likely as many LS experts out there as there are Tahoes. In addition, Chevrolet has a large footprint in the USA, and the Tahoe is built in Texas. It also has a reputation for lasting beyond 300,000 miles if you look after it carefully.
Over a ten-year period, you can expect to pay roughly $10,000 to maintain a Tahoe. That's way below the average in this segment. An annual service is around $350, steadily climbing to around $2,000 for a proper inspection and replacement of the spark plugs, serpentine belts, gearbox oil, coolant flush, steering, hood hinge, and trunk lubrication, and a suspension checkup.
If you follow the recommended service plan, the cost is cheaper. Preventive maintenance is always more affordable. If you are buying a high-mileage example, check the service history and ensure the previous owner took the big financial knock associated with the 150,000-mile service. Frequent oil changes are of critical importance and will ensure that you get the maximum longevity from the engine. However, carbon build-up on the backs of the intake valves is going to be a reality on high-mileage Tahoes, as it is with all direct-injected gas vehicles.
4th Gen Chevy Tahoe Tires
The Tahoe was never meant to be a serious off-roader, even in Z71 guise. Its ground clearance is too low and its overhangs too long. As such, all-season tires are the way to go. For the Z71, the OEM tire is an On/Off-Road Commercial tire, available only in 18-inch. As mentioned earlier, stay away from the 22-inch tires. They do nothing but harm acceleration and ride quality. A set of 20s is the sweet spot for most prospective customers.
Check Before You Buy
Technical Service Bulletins according to the NHTSA. Check service book for:
The 2015-2020 Chevrolet Tahoe recalls are plenty, so it's worth checking whether all the work has been completed. The recall list includes all model years for a driver's seatbelt tensioner that may separate. All models were also recalled for airbag problems as part of a wider recall campaign. Models from 2015 to 2019 were subjected to a brake recall due to a software glitch causing unintended brake problems. A faulty vacuum pump could also cause brake booster problems. 2015 to 2018 models had a power steering recall, due to the sudden loss of electric assist. This is the source of all the steering problems and complaints made against the Tahoe.
Around 33,000 units were sold with overcured tires in 2020. These could develop a break in the sidewall quite easily. There was also a high-pressure fuel pump recall for overpressurization. Only 502 units were reported affected by fuel pump problems. The cause was a missing fuel pump regulator.
The following error codes are the ones you'll most likely encounter on a Tahoe.
- Code P0741 indicates a problem with the torque converter lockup solenoid.
- Code P0796 shows that the ECU can't communicate with the hydraulic pressure sensor inside the gearbox. This code should be treated as serious, as it could be the start of serious Tahoe torque converter transmission issues and problems.
- Code P0101 indicates a problem with the mass airflow sensor. This can lead to starter, idling and fuel injection problems.
- Code P0700 is shown when the power control unit picks up transmission problems. The Tahoe will usually go into limp mode until the problem is resolved.
- Code P0443 is an indication that there's something wrong with the EVAP system. This usually happens when the car has catalytic converter problems.
- Code P0172 pops up when the car is running rich, which is also an indication that it might have fuel injection problems.
- Code P0326 indicates that the engine control unit has picked up an engine knock. This could point to possible engine problems, though the 2015-2020 Tahoe's two available engines are generally known for being robust and reliable.
Less Common Problems
The Tahoe was recalled for all of the major issues Chevy picked up over the years, which means the most common problems are the two above. There were other complaints as well, but not nearly enough to register as common. Some owners reported problems with the Stabilitrak problems, stemming from body control module problems. The Tahoe is also not without the usual electrical problems and gremlins. These include common items not working properly. We're talking sunroof, liftgate, and door lock problems. All of these are easy and cheap enough to fix. As with all other cars, the Tahoe's battery doesn't last forever. Basic battery problems are annoying and, if left unchecked, can lead to alternator problems.
While the more common engine problems are listed above, some others to keep an eye out for is the failure of exhaust-manifold bolts, which will cause a ticking sound while the engine is running, and intake-manifold gasket failure, which affect the air-fuel mixture and cause poor running. Additionally reported problems include cracked dashboards, usually caused by sun damage, so carefully inspect a used Tahoe for more evidence that it's been parked outside for extended periods, like faded paintwork. Paintwork such as this typically starts fading noticeably at around 50,000 miles.
Interior door panels also tend to detach themselves, so make sure none of them are loose. Transmission problems are not common but it's a good practice to replace the transmission fluid every 60,000 miles. Even the simpler six-speed transmission costs around $4,300 to replace, so preventative maintenance is recommended. Some other minor problems include doors that won't open from the outside and front seats that slide back when they are supposed to be secured.
Which One To Avoid
According to the number of complaints about the air conditioning and gearbox, the 2015 model year is by far the worst out of the lot, with the most recalls and problems. We'd avoid the entire model year and focus on later models. The LS is a bit low-rent for some, but properly equipped, as long as you avoid the 2015 model with its tiny infotainment screen. You'd likely want to avoid models without smartphone integration, so remember that Apple CarPlay arrived for the 2016 model year and Android Auto only a year later.
Which One To Buy
The 2018 model year is the pick of the bunch. While a few owners still complained about air-conditioning issues, the updated infotainment system appears to be trouble-free. If you're willing to spend time shopping, you'll eventually find a 6.2 V8 RST. It has more power and a much better ten-speed gearbox. It has the latest infotainment system as well, with full smartphone integration for both Android phones and iPhones.
4th Gen Chevrolet Tahoe Verdict
The 4th-gen Tahoe is a good used buy. The two main problems are a shoddy infotainment system and a substandard air-conditioning condenser - and occasional compressor. There are large SUVs out there with a much longer list of issues. Yes, the Tahoe has its problems, but it appears to be a good buy for folks who want maximum space, comfort, and reliability.