The 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe continues much as before, and that, no doubt, is just fine with a sizable number of folks who've grown to appreciate its mix of truck toughness and surprisingly refined practicality. Like the Chevrolet Suburban to which it's related, the Tahoe is a do-anything, go-anywhere sport-utility vehicle. Its truck-based architecture and strong V8 engine allow it to tow heavy loads, and the available four-wheel-drive system can take you off-road or through the snow. These aren't necessarily activities that are undertaken every day, but only a vehicle with big-truck capability can deliver when the time comes. And yet when it comes to everyday use, the Tahoe's relatively comfortable ride and its well-executed cabin with three rows of seats make it a practical choice. In the era of the crossover, few vehicles offer such a combination. Within its segment, the Chevy Tahoe compares well to the 2011 Ford Expedition and 2011 Toyota Sequoia. The Expedition offers a third-row seat that conveniently folds away to expand cargo capacity, yet the Ford isn't as powerful as the Tahoe. The Sequoia is the Tahoe's most serious competitor; it offers a similar mix of performance and utility. We'll also point out that if pure passenger use is more important than toting and towing, a large crossover SUV is a better pick. The 2011 Chevrolet Traverse and its GM siblings as well as the 2011 Ford Flex and 2011 Lincoln MKT offer better on-road handling, superior fuel economy and more flexible interior arrangements. Performance & mpg Every 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe is equipped with a 5.3-liter V8 generating 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission transmits power through the rear wheels on 2WD models or all four wheels on 4WD models. The 4WD Tahoe is offered with a choice of either a traditional two-speed transfer case or a single-speed unit without low-range gearing. The Tahoe's acceleration is strong for a full-size SUV, as the 4WD Tahoe hit 60 mph in about 8.5 seconds in Edmunds testing. EPA-estimated fuel economy is respectable, with 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined. A properly equipped Tahoe can tow up to 8,500 pounds. Safety The 2011 Chevy Tahoe comes standard with antilock brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and OnStar emergency telematics. Rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are available on every Tahoe, while the Tahoe LTZ can be had with a blind-spot warning system. In Edmunds brake testing, a Tahoe came to a stop from 60 mph in 134 feet, an average distance for a vehicle in this class. In government crash testing, the Tahoe received the top five-star rating for both frontal and side-impact protection. Driving Considering the 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe weighs more than 3 tons when a few average-size passengers are aboard, its acceleration is downright energetic. It gets kudos for its towing ability, too. If you need an SUV to pull a large boat or trailer, the Tahoe will serve you well up to its rated capacity. It's also adept as a highway cruiser, swallowing up the miles with a compliant and cushioned ride. There's a penalty to be paid, however: lackadaisical steering response and somewhat disconnected handling dynamics as speeds increase. The Tahoe's tight 39-foot turning circle does make it reasonably maneuverable in town. Interior The Chevrolet Tahoe's cabin is one of its strengths, with an attractive design and high-quality fit and finish. The layout of its controls is straightforward, and their operation intuitive. The front seats are comfortable, though the lack of a telescoping steering wheel might be a drawback for some drivers. One of the Tahoe's advantages over its competition is the ability to accommodate nine occupants with the LS's available front split bench seat. However, the Tahoe lacks a convenient flat-foldaway third-row seat; the rear seats are heavy, awkward to remove and must be stored elsewhere. Once the seats are out, there are 109 cubic feet of cargo capacity.