Better truck, bigger bucks
The brawny new Chevy Tahoe offers a lot to like - and is priced accordingly.
(FORTUNE Small Business Magazine) - General Motors rushed the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe to market to give a high-profit boost to its sagging model lineup. That effort was well spent. In almost every significant way (I'll get to the exceptions in a minute) the new Tahoe is superior to the model it replaces. That makes it a good investment for a business owner whose needs match the strengths of this hunky truck--though you may need an SBA loan to buy one.
Like Starbucks coffee cups, traditional body-on-frame SUVs come in three sizes: big, huge, and gigundo. The 2007 Tahoe slots right in the middle--longer and wider than the Chevy TrailBlazer, shorter than the Suburban. Despite its bulk, the Tahoe is easy on the eyes: toned and buff, with a solidity that makes it seem carved of solid steel. For the interior, GM (Research) has devoted time and talent to cleaning up the formerly messy instrument panel, and the results show. Gauges and controls are arrayed in a clean, functional way, and the materials are first-rate.
On the road, the Tahoe soaks up bumps and potholes better than some luxury sedans I've driven, and GM's engineers shaved the turning radius, so it's possible to make a U-turn in a four-lane road. The Tahoe will never feel like a passenger car, but it is getting close.
GM recommends using the truck to move people as well as plywood, but here I demur. Just as in last year's model, the third-row seat is uninhabitable by anyone with legs and far less comfortable than that of a Ford (Research) Expedition. Also, the Tahoe guzzles gas. It's rated at 15 city/21 highway (slightly better than the 2006 model and far better than the Expedition's 14/17), but I managed to squeeze out just 16.4 miles a gallon during 225 miles of mostly highway driving.
My other big objection to the truck is its cost. The base price for the LT version, including four-wheel drive and a 5.3-liter V-8, is $37,665--a steep sum whether you write it off or not. My test vehicle came loaded with options, and it was a little frightening to know that the Chevy in my driveway cost nearly $52,000. That's slightly cheaper than the '06 model, factoring in more standard features and a newer design, and customers aren't complaining: GM sold nearly 50% more Tahoes in the first two months of 2006 vs. 2005. But for that money I could get two lesser Chevys--say a TrailBlazer and an Impala--and still have enough cash to buy gas once in a while.
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