$10,256 - $14,505

2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe was new.


Performance: 8.8

Easy handling and powerful V8 engines make the Tahoe a reviewer favorite for performance.  Most say it is easy to drive around town and a capable highway cruiser. Good fuel economy for a large SUV is also a strong point. Though four-wheel drive has a negative impact on the Tahoe's fuel economy, it adds an impressive amount of utility and reviews say it makes the Tahoe a capable off-road performer.

  • "GM's latest full-size SUV platform gives the 2009 Tahoe a markedly better ride-and-handling combination than previous-generation models." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Steering feels more responsive, the brakes seem better, the vehicle has less pitch and roll.  . . the Tahoe's performance envelope -- within which the driver feels securely in control -- extends further than its predecessor's, well beyond any American speed limits." -- Newsday

Acceleration and Power

The three available V-8 engines on the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe are powerful and responsive. Thanks to Active Fuel Management, a system that shuts down four of the engine's eight cylinders when they are not needed, the larger Tahoe engines get the same fuel economy as the smaller engine. Most report that the transmission is smooth, but add that a few more gears would improve performance. 

In terms of fuel economy, the EPA estimates that the base 2WD Tahoe (with a 4.8 liter V-8) gets 14 miles per gallon city and 20 highway, while the mid-level 5.3 liter gets 14 mpg city/ 20 highway and the top-end 6.2 liter gets 12 mpg city/ 19 highway.

A new-for -2009 six-speed transmission helps the Tahoe improve its fuel economy and performance. While most reviewers say the Tahoe's acceleration is good, the they caution buyers not to expect drag-strip miracles with this large SUV.

  • "Tahoes with the 5.3-liter V8 have fine power from any speed. The transmission shifts smoothly, though some testers complain of delayed downshifts. " -- Consumer Guide
  • "For a 5,500-pound SUV, the Tahoe does pretty well when it comes to acceleration. Even 4WD models with the 5.3-liter V8 are able to get from zero to 60 mph in an impressive 8.6 seconds. Load it up with passengers and cargo, though, and the Tahoe's pudgy curb weight becomes more of a liability." -- Edmunds
  • "The 5.3-liter V8 with Active Fuel Management puts its 320 horsepower right at your command thanks to a wide torque curve, and you never notice when the engine switches between eight- and four-cylinder operation." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

Handling is a highpoint for the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe, with most reviews saying it drives much smaller than it is. Braking performance is also very good for a vehicle as large as the Tahoe.

  • "Those who favor a soft, forgiving ride will appreciate the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe, but the downside of that cushy comfort is steering and handling that feels somewhat rubbery. The Tahoe may feel less than agile around corners, but its tight turning circle -- measuring just 39 feet -- makes it relatively easy to pilot in the city." -- Edmunds
  • "These are tall, heavy vehicles, so they never feel nimble. But there's no excessive body lean in turns with the base suspension, and even less with Autoride. Low-speed maneuverability is aided by a relatively tight turning circle. Brakes feel strong." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Tight spot maneuverability of this still large SUV is simply amazing." -- Motor Week
  • "On winding roads, the Tahoe certainly is no sharp carver of turns. But it handles as well or better than other big trucks, despite some lean in corners." -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • "The brakes are responsive and smooth." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Brake pedal feels firm." -- Car and Driver

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