The Tahoe has been a staple in Chevy's lineup, and while rising gasoline prices may cause folks to think twice about purchasing an SUV, the Tahoe does its job well.

The 5.3-liter V-8 has 320 horses, and it's capable of running on gasoline or E85 ethanol fuel. The engine shuts down four cylinders in cruising situations and offers the best-in-segment fuel economy with a combined city/highway mileage of 21.3 miles per gallon for a two-wheel-drive model. Fuel economy is lower when burning ethanol.

The Tahoe's recent redesign gave it a more precise driving feel, more power, improved fuel economy and a refined interior.

Refinement shows up in various ways. First, the styling is clean and crisp. Four-millimeter shut lines and body seams are on par with world-class luxury cars. Chrome trim is used in small, tasteful doses. Reclining the windshield reduces aerodynamic drag, lowers wind noise and improves fuel economy. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard, and 20-inch wheels are optional. Anti-lock, four-wheel disc brakes are standard as well.

The interior is dramatically better than that of the previous generation. The cabin feels more like that of like a luxury car than a truck. The instrument panel has elegant gauges and few seams, and surface textures that are rich and inviting.

Designers moved the instrument panel down and forward for better visibility. Woodgrain trim and brushed aluminum accents are a nice contrast to the leather-like texture. The layout and design of the radio and climate controls is simple and clean. Large knobs have a quality feel that was missing in previous models.

The front seats are especially noteworthy because they offer excellent support without feeling confining.

The Tahoe can be configured to be as plush as a luxury car. Buyers can choose convenience items such as a power-folding second seat, rearview camera, power tailgate and heated windshield washer fluid. Other options include remote vehicle start, heated front and rear seats, rear parking assist, a navigation system and a rear-seat DVD system with an 8-inch LCD screen. Power adjustable pedals, rain-sensing wipers and a tire-pressure monitoring system are also handy.

The test LTZ had a base price of $38,420, but it had nearly $13,000 worth of options that brought the sticker price to $51,975. That's hefty, but you can keep the price down by selectively choosing options.

The Tahoe is but one model of a family of Chevy SUVs. The Avalanche and Suburban are built on the same chassis. It has a fully boxed frame, coil-over-shock front suspension, rack-and-pinion steering and wider front and rear tracks. The wheelbase remains at 116 inches for the Tahoe and 130 inches for the Suburban. The Tahoe can be equipped with three rows of seats, although the split-folding rear seat takes up most of the cargo space.

Making the Tahoe quieter was a major goal, and sound-deadening components are used in the headliner, door seals and firewall. The engine gets a special cover and noise-reducing alternator.

The stiffer frame reduces vibrations and enables the suspension to be more compliant. GM's StabiliTrak vehicle stability control system is standard, and it is designed to help mitigate rollovers. Side-curtain airbags with rollover protection are optional.

Price The base price of the four-wheel-drive LT test vehicle was $38,420. Options included the LTZ package of chrome grille, leather seats, second-row bucket seats, power adjustable pedals, remote vehicle starter, 20-inch wheels, power liftgate, Bose premium stereo, locking rear differential, navigation system and rear-seat DVD player. The sticker price was $51,975.

Warranty Three years or 36,000 miles with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.