First look: 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, 2015 GMC Yukon and 2015 Chevrolet Suburban

Designed to appear more "sporty" than before, the

Designed to appear more "sporty" than before, the overall look of the 2015 Chevrolet Suburban is attractive and modern. (Credit: Cars.com )

2015 CHEVROLET SUBURBAN AND TAHOE

Competes with: Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia, Nissan Armada
Looks like: A more aggressive, sporty, aerodynamic take on the current model

Drivetrain: 355-horsepower, Ecotec3 5.3-liter V-8; six-speed automatic transmission


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Hits dealerships: Early 2014

The newly redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck is in dealerships, which means that GM can now turn its attention to introducing the related full-size sport-utility vehicles that are based on that truck, the new 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe (pictured above) and Suburban.

These have been a long time coming, with the last major refresh for the best-selling trucks occurring way back in 2007. This is now the 12th generation for the Suburban (fifth for the Tahoe), making the Suburban the longest-running nameplate in the auto industry at nearly 80 continuous years.

For 2015, both the Tahoe (pictured at right) and Suburban (pictured at top) get a thorough reworking inside and out. What applies to one also generally applies to the other — the only big difference between the two models is length, with the longer Suburban featuring more interior passenger and cargo space.

Outside, styling updates are subtle but significant — it takes a few moments and a close inspection to realize that every single body panel is different. The headlights and front ends are obviously different, but most interestingly they are altered from the Silverado as well; no longer do the full-size SUVs and full-size pickups share sheet metal.

Designed to appear more "sporty" than before, the overall look is attractive and modern. Doors and side glass are redesigned to fit into the bodyside instead of wrapping up into the roof — the latter may be more aerodynamic, but the former is superior for wind noise. Glass is more flush and smoother overall down the sides than before, culminating in a more squared-off look for the rear that also improves interior space.

Power comes from GM's revised Ecotec3 5.3-liter V-8 engine, which makes 355 horsepower and 383 pounds-feet of torque. The engine features cylinder deactivation for improved fuel economy, but GM has not yet released details of the Tahoe/Suburban's gas mileage. In terms of towing capacity, two-wheel-drive Tahoes are rated at 8,500 pounds and four-wheel-drive models at 8,300 pounds. Two-wheel-drive Suburbans are rated at 8,300 pounds and four-wheel-drive versions at 8,000 pounds.

New on the inside is a completely revised console that is more carlike and made from significantly higher-quality materials. Like the exterior sheet metal, the dashboard is not shared with the pickups — it is unique to the full-size SUVs. A choice of multimedia systems is available, including an 8-inch touch-screen featuring Chevrolet's MyLink system that slides up to reveal a storage cubby behind the screen.

Interior passenger room is improved, with 2 inches more legroom for the second-row passengers and a new power fold-flat seat for the third row. No longer is the third row removable — like the Ford Expedition, it folds down into the floor at the touch of a switch in the cargo area. Another switch also drops the second row, so you can create a relatively flat load floor even when standing at the rear hatch. The downside is that a false floor now adorns that cargo area, resulting in a higher lift-over height and the loss of several inches of cargo height. That false floor is covered and made into storage however, and the trade-off for more useful three-row seating is worth it.

The Tahoe/Suburban can be had with some new high-tech equipment for 2015 as well, including forward collision alert, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, a safety alert seat, front and rear park assist, centerside airbags for the front seats and even a Blu-ray player for the rear seat with a 9-inch screen. The SUVs can be optioned to have five auxiliary power sockets, a 110-volt power outlet and six USB slots for personal electronics. GM is also offering the latest version of its Magnetic Ride Control adjustable suspension as well.

GM believes that current full-size SUV owners have kept their rides for some time now, given that there haven't been any major updates to either the GM or Ford entries in years. The company is counting on that pent-up demand to drive some pretty strong sales when the trucks arrive in showrooms in the first few months of 2014.


2015 GMC YUKON AND YUKON XL 

Competes with: Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia, Nissan Armada

Looks like: A more aerodynamic and elegant take on the current model

Drivetrain: Standard Ecotec3 5.3-liter V-8; six-speed automatic transmission; optional 6.2-liter V-8, Denali only

Hits dealerships: Early 2014

Need a full-size SUV, but find the Chevrolet Suburban to be a bit too common? Like the luxury of a Cadillac Escalade, but don't want the attention? Refuse to set foot in a Ford, Nissan or Toyota product? Then GMC would like to show you the new Yukon and longer Yukon XL, redesigned for the 2015 model year after a long stretch without much in the way of updates. The last Yukon update happened in 2007, and GM believes that there are many current Yukon owners who have been waiting for this model to arrive before heading down to their dealers to upgrade.

GMC has thoroughly reworked the Yukon and Yukon XL, the only real difference between the two being the length and the resultant interior volume. Changes discussed here generally apply to both the Yukon and Yukon XL models. Changes start with all-new sheet metal and a distinctive front end that incorporates the new GMC C-shaped LEDs into the headlights.

The sculpted fenders stretch a distinctive body character line all the way to the taillights — no longer does the Yukon share any styling with the GMC Sierra full-size pickup truck; it has its own look now. Doors have been redesigned to fit into the bodyside instead of wrap over the roof, significantly improving wind noise according to GMC. Similar aerodynamic improvements in the rear make for a quieter ride, and the squared-off cabin improves interior space as well.

Powertrains come in two flavors — standard is GM's new Ecotec3 5.3-liter V-8 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and optional is the big 6.2-liter V-8 that's available only on the upmarket Denali luxury trim. The Denali gets subtle cosmetic changes as well, including a mesh grille, 22-inch wheels and nicer interior trim with an 8-inch reconfigurable driver display screen. No information was made available about the Yukon's four-wheel-drive system, towing abilities or fuel economy numbers at press time.

Interiors on all Yukons are a dramatic improvement and a welcome update. Carlike and beautifully styled, they are made of high-quality materials that seem very well screwed together. The dashboard contains a standard 8-inch touch-screen and GMC's IntelliLink multimedia system with optional navigation. A storage cubby resides behind the articulated touch-screen, and cupholders abound throughout the interior.

New for the Yukons is a fold-flat third-row seat — no longer removable, the rear split-bench folds into the floor at the touch of a button, as does the second row, resulting in a relatively flat cargo floor without the need to manhandle a heavy bench out the rear hatch and store it somewhere. The new system does take a good 3 or 4 inches out of the usable interior cargo height, but the trade-off for always having three rows of seats with you is likely to be worth it to many buyers.

As one would expect with a major redesign, the new SUVs get a full raft of the latest GM electronic safety equipment. Forward radar for collision and lane departure warning systems, blind spot and rear cross-traffic alert, automatic braking systems, center-mounted side airbags for the front seats, adaptive cruise control and the patented Safety Alert Seat are all available.

The new Yukons will start production in Texas soon and are slated to arrive in dealerships in the first few months of 2014. 

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