General Motors has taken the wraps off the highly anticipated next generation 2015 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Yukon XL and Denali. After 80 years and in its 12th generation, the Texas-sized, Texas-built, full-size SUVs have received a long-overdue modernization.
Here's a first look at the new models, which will be in dealer showrooms early next year.
It is the top-of-the-line GMC Denali making the most imposing impression, but all models benefit from GM's much-needed truck line update.
Denali is the most luxurious and most expensive version of GM's full-size SUVs and is more differentiated from the Chevrolet trucks than ever before. For the first time, none of the SUV's exterior sheet metal is shared with the Silverado and Sierra pick-ups.
Denali's new headlights inherit GMC's signature LED running trim and have a look seemingly inspired by the sleek Cadillac ATS. All models now have projector-beam headlights, significantly improving both the look of the truck and the illumination of what's ahead.
The new grille is a bold statement of GMC's "professional grade" aesthetic, leading the brute down the road with an exterior that is both sleeker and more aerodynamic, enhancing efficiency and a far quieter ride. But it's just the face of the refinements under the lightweight aluminum hood where the new EcoTec3 engine family continues the modernization theme.
These engines are more powerful and efficient than before, thanks to state-of-the-art technologies, including direct injection, 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.
Cylinder deactivation and other technologies help the engines operate in four-cylinder mode for longer periods of time with Active Fuel Management, further increasing efficiency.
Inside, the interior has nothing to do with the 1990s-era design of the current generation. Gone are the cheap plastic materials; in are a soft-touch instrument panel, console and door panel materials with live stitching and purposeful use of ambient lighting in functional areas, seats with dual-firmness foam, and an ambient air vent designed to enhance comfort for front-seat passengers.
"Authentic materials" mean real wood and aluminum trims are used over the fake plastic renditions.
Perhaps the biggest utility advancement in these big utilities is the introduction of fold-flat second- and third-row seating. For years owners have had to contend with wrestling seats out when cargo space was key. Now that space comes at the touch of a button.
When equipped with a motorized version, they will be the "fastest folding power seats in the industry." That alone is reason enough to update to the 2015s.
Interior improvements continue with an all-new cargo management system, more functional storage details and, again, premium materials incorporated throughout.
A major new design feature that could be easily overlooked is inlaid doors that fit into the body side openings instead of the old-time, pick-up truck design where the door tops curve over the top of the body. The flush doors significantly reduce wind noise and with a laminated windshield contribute to improved aerodynamics and enhanced quietness.
Also new are worm screw-style liftgate arms that take up less interior space than the previous gooseneck arms.
Here is a look at the new front end of Chevrolet's best-selling Suburban and Tahoe flavors of the big utes.
Suburban's wheelbase is stretched 14 inches longer than Tahoe, adding about 10 inches more leg room to the third row and an additional 27 cubic feet of maximum cargo space.
Chevrolet interiors get an equally updated interior with myriad configurations sure to make loyal GM SUV buyers happy. Both vehicles also offer the segment’s only front-seat center air bag (on bucket-seat models), which is engineered to provide additional protection in side impact crashes where, in the large volume of these utilities, an occupant is whipped side-to-side.
For the first time, an available 8-inch color touch screen features Chevrolet's modern MyLink connectivity, which is one of the most intuitive in-car systems out there. Up to six USB ports and six power outlets – including a 110-volt three-prong outlet – and an available rear-seat entertainment system with dual screens round out the new family-friendly interior connectivity features.
The 2015 Tahoe and Suburban — the original ute, celebrating its 80th anniversary — are engineered to remain competitive, delivering a quieter, more-controlled ride and improved steering and braking feel without compromising the payload and trailering capability that body-frame-integral crossovers and SUVs can’t match.
Expect to see the 2015s at Chevrolet and GMC dealers mid-February to March 2014.