The 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevy Suburban, and GMC Tahoe remain among the safest full-size SUVs on the market.
That's a fair assessment based on a set of new ratings and results just released from the federal government, which has crash-tested the Tahoe, a body-on-frame SUV that was fully redesigned for the 2015 model year.
The new round of federal NCAP testing involved the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe with the 5.3-liter V-8, although those results extend to the nearly identical 2015 GMC Yukon. The federal government hasn't yet extended those results to the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Tahoe XL, which are closely related but about 20 inches longer.
As with the previous 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe, the 2015 model earned top five-star ratings for occupant protection in frontal offset and side barrier tests, including in the side pole test, which simulates a collision with a narrow fixed object like a utility pole or tree.
Rollover knocks it off the honor roll
Yet that doesn't translate to a five-star Overall Score, because the federal government found a 22.9-percent risk of rollover in its static calculation (versus 24.6 percent for the 2014 Tahoe), with “no tip” in the dynamic test for either generation of the Tahoe.
While electronic stability control systems have alleviated much of that concern, helping to prevent the loss of control in quick maneuvers and in some adverse weather conditions, taller SUVs still have a higher risk of rollover in some situations, such as when they're 'tripped' by a barrier or curb, skid onto a mixed-traction surface, or in a collision with another vehicle.
If that's a cause for concern, it's worth keeping in mind that the Chevrolet Traverse, a more passenger-oriented crossover model, earns a five-star Overall Score, as it has a four-star rollover rating and also achieves those top frontal and side ratings.
Center airbags a GM SUV exclusive
Versions of the Tahoe and Yukon with front bucket seats—such as the one tested—have the segment's only front-seat center airbag system (a system the Traverse also now has); although with no test-dummy in the passenger seat the efficacy of the system wasn't confirmed or demonstrated by these federal tests.
The other agency that conducts U.S. crash tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, didn't test the last-generation GM full-size SUVs, and doesn't test large body-on-frame SUVs in general.
Among market alternatives, the Ford Expedition is the closest rival to the Tahoe, and the Ford achieves the same four-star overall rating, however with four stars for frontal impact, it doesn't perform as well for occupant protection. The Toyota Sequoia and Nissan Armada both haven't been tested in recent years.
(c) 2014, High Gear Media.