Last week was big for lovers of full size luxury SUVs. GM, which sells about 75% of all vehicles in this segment, chose the week to unveil the 2015 Chevy Tahoe and Suburban in New York; and GMC Yukon Denali and XL in Los Angeles. But, it was in Dallas — just a stone’s throw from the Arlington plant where they are built — that all of the 2015 models were revealed for the media. The first commercially-offered ones will roll of the line and into dealer showrooms in January of 2014,
GM has always recognized the importance of Texas buyers for these large expensive vehicles with excellent tow capacity and performance, and this unveiling was no exception.
Tahoe and Suburban — all new for 2015
Let me start by saying that I believe Tahoe and Suburban buyers are among the most loyal anywhere. When these people decide to get a new vehicle, it’s not about shopping. It’s about buying. A huge number of high schoolers want an older-model Tahoe (or Yukon) because that’s what they have grown up).
There is a lot that is shared between the new Tahoe and Suburban, and rather than list them twice, I’ll say, they make sense.
Exterior styling on both reflects a comfortable merge between truck-line function and contemporary design. That said, these do not look like trucks-without-beds. Doors are inlaid instead of wrapping up over the top of the body (something that GM has also adopted for its new pickup trucks) to aid in aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.
For the first time, also, all of the new 2015 GMC and Chevy full-size SUVs share no sheet metal with their pickup truck stablemates. This is an acknowledgement that the customer is not always a truck afficianado, and that there is a great benefit to differentiating the SUVs from trucks and — within the category — between each of the two brands. These are reflected in grilles, headlight and rearlight styling and with subtle roof line changes.
While these were hand-built prototypes, the sheet metal is comprised entirely at GM’s new $200-million stamping plant addition at the Arlington, TX, facility. As a Texan, I am always glad to hear about more automotive industry additions in our own backyard, and at the introduction of both the Chevy and GMC SUVs we were able to meet the key manufacturing people from the plant.
On the inside of the new models, although we were unable to hop in, GM has carried over the materials that have raised the pickup truck interiors more than a few notches. No longer is the phrase, “good enough”, the right one for the SUV offerings. Materials are dramatically improved, and the full range of bluetooth and technology offerings look right at home in these new interiors.
As to storage, there is plenty and the new fold-flat seating for second and third rows are great. There is actually some new storage under the flat cargo floor, as well.
Under the hood, these 2015 models will be powered by a new range of EcoTec3 engines that are the same as the 2014 GM pickups introduced for 2014 model year. I would have liked to see an 8-speed automatic transmission, but the 6-speed is a good performer, as I can attest since there is one in the 5.3L Silverado pickup that I am driving this week.
Production of the final test vehicles for both GMC and Chevrolet began on September 16th and they will be driven over a million miles before the actual consumer products are turned loose early next year.
No mpg or other stats have been released as yet. I expect that to happen when we get a first drive in these Texas vehicles. I look forward to a drive/ride opportunity as soon as GM is ready. In the meantime, I encourage you to check them out at the State Fair of Texas over the next two weeks, and let me know what you think.
As an aside,if you thought the Chevy Suburban had been around forever, you are almost right. The 2015 represents the 80th anniversary and 12th generation of the original SUV. It doesn’t get dramatically changed very often and that is one reason why this wheels-to-roof redo is so special.