Evolution of the Species: The 2015 Chevy Tahoe PPV
Chevrolet brings an all-new 2015 PPV Tahoe to the party—with a twist
In the last few years, we've seen the introduction of many new patrol vehicles in the sedan and mid-size SUV segments—Ford Interceptor SUV, Dodge Durango and so on—but there's been little activity in the full-size, patrol-rated SUV marketplace. Perhaps this is because Chevrolet has dominated the sector with the Tahoe PPV (police pursuit vehicle) 2WD, with Ford getting some of the proverbial crumbs with the Expedition.
Despite being an excellent vehicle overall, the Tahoe PPV has had one significant, glaring omission on the order sheet: a true 4WD PPV option. Yes, there has been a Special Service version of the Tahoe, but it truly wasn't developed to the point of being a consideration for agencies needing 4WD and true pursuit capability. Thankfully, Chevrolet has seen the value of offering such a model, and it's chosen the all-new 2015 Tahoe to introduce it on.
According to Chevrolet, the 2015 Tahoe PPV features an all-new interior, exterior and EcoTec3 powertrain—all while offering the same basic dimensions, a stronger body-on-frame architecture and versatility that made it the best-selling Chevrolet police vehicle for the last several years. The preservation of the basic dimensions is important for departments already deploying Tahoes because this will allow an easy transfer of law enforcement equipment used in current Tahoe PPVs.
"The Tahoe PPV's versatility and low lifecycle cost have made it a leader among police agencies," according to Ed Peper, the U.S. vice president of Fleet and Commercial Sales for Chevrolet.
"The enhancements to the 2015 model have further refined an already great vehicle to give police officers the performance, speed and safety they need to help keep their communities safe."
Although SUV's of this size typically aren't chosen with fuel efficiency in mind, every little bit of improvement helps, regardless of the size of your total fleet. To this end, the new Tahoe PPV's standard EcoTec3 5.3-L V-8 features direct injection, cylinder deactivation, continuously variable valve timing and an advanced combustion system, designed to make the most of power, torque and efficiency across a broad range of operating conditions.
Since power is what really matters to the street officer, the engineers squeezed some more ponies and grunt out of the Vortec 5.3-L, bumping horsepower to 355 and torque to 383 lb.-feet (compared to the current Tahoe, with 320 HP and 335 lb.-feet of torque).
This should help in getting the approximately 5,300–5,500 lbs. (2WD vs. 4WD models) up to speed when hammering the "go" pedal. FlexFuel capability, improved engine mounts, electronic throttle control, adaptive exhaust systems, improved aerodynamics and other technologies help the engines operate in four-cylinder mode more often with Active Fuel Management, further increasing efficiency that fleet managers and bean counters salivate over.
The engine is mated to a Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic transmission with a unique police-service calibration that supports pursuit performance featuring TapShift control, Tow/Haul mode and Auto Grade Braking. The final drive ratio is 3.42 vs. the current Tahoe's 3.08, which means the shorter gear (higher numerically) should also aid in acceleration.
Suspension and Tires
The 2015 Tahoe PPV continues to be built as a body-on-frame vehicle, and uses the same size 265/60-17 tires and wheels as the current model, so fleets with large tire and wheel inventories can continue to use up their supply. The Goodyear RSA tires and steel wheels attach to a PPV-tuned independent coil over shock, or twin-tube shock front suspension pieces, with a solid axle with semi-elliptic, variable-rate, two-stage multileaf springs and splayed shock absorbers out back.
A police-specific StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with Proactive Roll Avoidance and traction control is also featured. Steering is an all-new variable assist electric model while stopping duties are handled by a new power-assisted, four-wheel disc, four-wheel ABS, with Duralife rotors. Vented front and rear rotors that have been tuned for police use.
As mentioned earlier, the big news in the drivetrain department is the inclusion of true pursuit-rated 4WD option that should offer the same strong handling characteristics of the well-sorted 2WD PPV, albeit with a bit more weight on the nose. Still, seeing as how a full-size, pursuit-rated 4WD vehicle hasn't been offered by any manufacturer in recent memory, it might be a class leader in this area. I'll reserve final judgment until I get a chance to drive one.
Interior & Exterior
According to Chevrolet, the completely new redesigned interior gives officers 360 degrees of safety with new standard features, including rear park assist, backup camera and optional adjustable pedals, which personalize the vehicle to each driver. An optional Driver Alert Package includes lane departure warning, forward collision alert and Chevrolet's Safety Alert seat. New inlaid doors fit into the body side openings instead of over the top of the body, significantly improving the quietness of the interior cabin and contributing to improved aerodynamics for better fuel economy and a quieter ride. This in turn means better interior audio characteristics for radios and camera systems.
Lightweight aluminum hood and lift gate panels also enhance efficiency through reduced overall mass.
Spaciousness is why these vehicles are around in the first place. Middle seat leg room has increased by two inches, even though the wheelbase of the new Tahoe remains unchanged at 116 inches. In comparing the 2015 model to the 2014 2WD PPV Tahoe, headroom up front has increased by an inch with legroom increasing by a sizeable four inches, areas that always appreciated by officers. A new instrument panel houses an available eight-inch color touch-screen radio with a secured storage bin behind the motorized screen. The compartmentalized center console is large enough to store a laptop or iPad. The Tahoe has a standard 730-CCA Auxiliary Battery, which allows officers to power their equipment, including radios, video cameras and laptops, when the vehicle is not running, avoiding drain on the primary vehicle battery.
The vehicle also has a 110-V power outlet and USB input. A fully integrated electrical system makes it easier to upfit police-specific equipment. Also new for 2015 PPV vehicles: OnStar is now standard, providing automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle slowdown and recovery. The Tahoe also comes standard with Bluetooth, which allows officers to stay connected safely and talk hands-free while on the road.
On the exterior, projector-beam headlamps flank the Chevrolet-signature dual-port grille—chrome on all models—and sweep into the front fenders. High-intensity discharge headlamps and light-emitting diode daytime running lamps are included on the delux LTZ model. Chevrolet also says that the revamped Tahoe doesn't share any identical sheetmetal with their full-size pickups. The new Tahoe will be built at GM's Arlington, Texas, assembly plant. The 2WD pursuit and 4WD special service models will be available for order in the first quarter and the 4WD pursuit vehicle in the second quarter of 2014.
This is all new information. Details as of this writing are a bit scarce on the 4WD PPV, but we will update you as they come.
The 2015 Tahoe PPV represents a natural evolution of a well-received full-size SUV that has proven to be very popular for numerous agencies. The addition of increased power, a stronger frame, a completely new interior and exterior and a true 4WD pursuit rated option should further cement Chevrolet's position in this market segment. Given my experiences in current Tahoes, it should make for a great driving experience. Stay tuned.