A couple of miles into the Saw Mill River Parkway, a notorious New York throughway that could easily double as a rallycross stage, I find myself not really giving a damn. The road is unnerving, downright terrifying in the rain, but at this particular moment, it’s just another road to get to my destination; all I need to worry about is finding a good song.
I’ll blame the indifference on the 2015 Chevy Tahoe ($44,500) I’m currently commanding. The Tahoe is a prodigious ride loaded with a Westchester den’s worth of fine woods, leathers and entertainment. Also, a steering wheel. And with 5700+ pounds under my belt, it’s hard to think that if something does go awry here on the set of Death Race: Commuter Anarchy, at least I’ve got good ol’ Detroit corpulence on my side.
Engine: 5.5-liter, 16-valve V8
Torque: 383 lb-ft
0-60: 6.9 seconds
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: 16/23
Weight: 5,570 lbs
Other Notables: Price with options (as shown), $70,500.
The idea of driving a mobile suite in an era of climate control (Earth not Temp) seems ill suited — at least four dozen Toyota Priuses have passed me since Manhattan — but in an ever granola-fied world of cars, the Tahoe is unapologetic in its traditions. I can respect that.
One of my passengers, who also happens to own a Prius, remarks at the Tahoe’s interior volume: “Good Christ, this thing holds everything and my Coolatta.” It’s worth noting that my manifest shows five passengers and a weekend’s worth of luggage packed into the Tahoe, yet it still seems like no one is within an arm’s reach. In a Tahoe, everyone is treated to business class, with a 2:1 ratio of screens, A/C controls and media players per person.
At 70 mph the Tahoe registers just 68 decibels of noise (an Audi A8 measures 62 db). A 5.3 liter V-8 power train offers a vast reserve of 353 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. And magnetorheological (gesundheit) shocks, magnetic shocks that continually adjust, dispose of bumps with prejudice. As we barrel through the drama of a summer weekend departure from New York, I realize that the Tahoe’s utter isolation is its salient feature. Even its electric-assisted steering and heated steering wheel — otherwise a ghastly notion on anything driver oriented — is welcome, if only because the idea here is zero-fuss driving. Throw it a family of five plus two golden retrievers, a weekend road trip with friends, or a ride to the lake with a pair of Sea-Doos out back. The Tahoe swallows miles, cargo and passengers — fuel and dollars, too. And unless you’re a livery driver, that’s exactly why you buy a Tahoe and pack on $25,000 worth of options. To make driving easier. Or because you can’t park a Suburban in your garage.
Pop in a destination, a good playlist and enjoy the company. Here in stop-and-speed driving on the Saw Mill, with the company of my four sanguine passengers, the only thing I’m worried about is what’s next on Spotify.