2007 GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Cadillac Escalade

The new 2007 models of GM's high-profit and high- profile big SUVs are almost here. The Chevrolet Tahoe, the GMC Yukon, and the Cadillac Escalade land in early 2006, while the Suburban/Yukon XL/ Escalade ESV and the Avalanche/Escalade EXT follow in the spring.

The exteriors have been cleaned up both aerodynamically and visually, with more raked windshield angles, cladding-free body sides, and tight panel gaps. The cabins are the equal of any competitor's and have a particularly well-finished look. The third-row seats, however, do not fold flat into the floor.

The trucks' length is increased by about three inches, and weight is up as well. Still, fuel economy is slightly better. Engines range from 4.8 to 6.2 liters, and some have variable valve timing and displacement on demand. Four-speed and six-speed automatic transmissions do the shifting. Frames are boxed, tracks are wider, brakes are bigger, and the steering is now rack-and-pinion. The front suspension is still via control arms, and the rigid rear axle stays, but stability control is standard. Maximum wheel sizes are twenty inches (for Chevrolet and GMC) and twenty-two inches (for Cadillac).

The new trucks' impact on the company's battered bottom line may be less than was hoped even a year ago, since $3-per-gallon gasoline is no longer some crackpot's doomsday prediction and fickle buyers are rediscovering cars. But even if their market has diminished, the new trucks should maintain GM's status as the big dog in the field.

Under the hood, six V-8s> 4.8L, 290-hp iron block
> 5.3L, 320-hp iron block
> 5.3L, 320-hp aluminum block
> 6.0L, 350-hp iron block, vvt
> 6.0L, 355-hp aluminum block, vvt
> 6.2L, 380-hp/400-hp aluminum block, vvt

New features> Remote start
> Rear-view camera
> Power-deploying running boards
> Power liftgate
> Power fold-and-tumble second-row seats
> Rain-sensing wipers

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