Differences in the Chevy LS, LT & LTZ Tahoeby Michael G. Sanchez
2014 was the final model year for the third generation of Chevrolet's popular full-size SUV. In an automotive landscape increasingly dominated by car-based crossovers, the Tahoe stayed true to the classic, truck-based SUV template. Big, comfortable and able to tow heavy loads like boats and campers -- a talent crossovers conspicuously lack -- the Tahoe checked all the right boxes for those in need of a traditional large SUV.
The 2014 Tahoe was available in three trim levels: the base LS, mid-range LT and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink LTZ. By default, the SUV came equipped with seating for eight people. Optional second-row captains chairs dropped that number down to seven, but increased passenger comfort. An optional front 40-20-40 bench seat, on the other hand, brought maximum seating capacity up to nine.
Only one engine was offered in the 2014 Tahoe: the 5.3-liter V-8. Also used in Chevy's full-size pickup trucks, the engine produced 320 horsepower at 5,400 rpm and 335 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. The Tahoe was available with rear- or four-wheel drive. Buyers of four-wheel-drive models could choose between two transfer cases: the Autotrac 4x4 active transfer case or the Autotrac 2-speed active transfer case. The former allowed the driver to select between two-wheel-drive, automatic and four-wheel-drive modes. Automatic mode directed power to the front wheels when rear-wheel slippage was detected by the Tahoe's computer system. The Autotrac 2-speed active transfer case added a low range, but otherwise functioned similarly. The Tahoe had a gross vehicle weight rating of 7,100 pounds with two-wheel drive and 7,300 pounds with four-wheel drive. The two-wheel-drive Tahoe had an impressive maximum towing capacity of 8,500 pounds. With four-wheel drive, it could tow 8,300 pounds. Traction control and four-wheel ABS came standard.
The Tahoe was 202 inches long, 79 inches wide and 76.9 inches tall, and had a 116-inch wheelbase. It had a base curb weight of 5,467 pounds. With all three rows of seats in place, the Tahoe offered a relatively paltry 16.9 cubic feet of storage room. With the seats folded down, though, its cargo capacity ballooned to a maximum of 108.9 cubic feet. The Tahoe's voluminous interior provided the driver and front passenger with 41.1 inches of headroom, 65.2 inches of shoulder room, 60.3 inches of hip room and 41.3 inches of legroom. Second-row passengers got 39.2 inches of headroom, 65.2 inches of shoulder room, 60.6 inches of hip room and 39.0 inches of legroom.
The Tahoe LS came standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, six-way power front seats, tri-zone manual climate controls, a rear-view camera, power-adjustable pedals, remote ignition, Bluetooth connectivity, GM's OnStar system and a six-speaker sound system with CD player, auxiliary audio jack, rear-seat audio controls, satellite radio and an iPod-USB interface.
The LT trim level added leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, foglights, a driver seat memory function, a nine-speaker Bose sound system and a locking rear differential. The optional Luxury Package came with heated front and second-row seats, a power rear liftgate and power folding mirrors. Also available on LT models was the Z71 Off-Road package, which included 18-inch alloy wheels, all-terrain tires, performance-tuned shocks and springs, skid plates and rugged-looking front and rear fascias.
The range-topping LTZ model added 20-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension with load-leveling function, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated 12-way power front seats, a voice-activated GPS navigation system, power flip-and-fold second-row seats, a premium 10-speaker Bose audio system with hard-drive-based music storage, and a blind-spot warning assist. Two optional packages were also available on LT and LTZ Tahoes: the Sun, Entertainment and Destinations package and the Trailering Package. The former came with a sunroof and a rear-seat entertainment system and, on LT models, a navigation system. The latter came with a trailer hitch and an integrated trailer brake controller.
Low fuel efficiency is one of the standard trade-offs that come with driving a full-size SUV. The Tahoe, in both two- and four-wheel-drive trims, was EPA-rated at 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. When new, the LS model had a starting price of $43,600. The LT model was priced from $47,640, while the top-of-the-line Tahoe LTZ started at $56,255. As of June 2014, a briefly used LS model is worth about $36,700, a LT should go for around $41,965, and an LTZ will set you back approximately $49,835.
Michael G. Sanchez has been a professional writer for over 10 years. A lifelong car enthusiast and former senior mechanic, he has written on a wide range of automotive topics. He holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Castleton State College. Sanchez started writing about cars as a part-time copywriter for a local dealership while still in high school.