The current Chevrolet Tahoe lineup was introduced in 2007, featuring a new body and added features across the board. The Tahoe is Chevy's base SUV model, coming in as a shorter version of the Suburban. This makes it a more performance-minded choice for consumers, as well as slightly easier on the gas. Some of the main highlights of the revamped Tahoe range include more interior space, finely tuned V8 power and new tech extras like a beefed up StabiliTrak system for better road handling.
Both the LS and LT designations are just trim levels--the basics of both are the same, and it's the same vehicle after all. However, the LS is the entry level trim, while the LT is a few steps up--providing more luxury options. Both have a wheelbase of 116 inches and weigh 5581 lbs. Both feature a gross weight of 7300 lbs.
When the current Tahoe came out in 2007, GM offered it in three engine variations, including a smaller 4.8 liter V8. However, existing configurations are limited to the standard 5.3 liter V8, which makes around 320 horsepower and 340 ft/lb in torque. Both the LS and LT have a six speed automatic transmission and 3.42 gears. Both benefit from four wheel disc brakes, and can be either 2WD or 4X4.
There's an optional 6.0 liter hybrid motor available for Tahoes, making 332 horsepower and 367 ft/lb in torque.
Safety and interior
The main differences between the LS and LT are in the amount of luxury items available or included. Many such comforts are simply not offered for the LS entry model. For example, the LT can come with fog lamps while these are not offered on the LS.
The interior of the car is where many of these differences can be found--climate control can be added to the LT, while LS buyers need to settle for very basic heat and A/C.
The LS can seat nine people because it has a bench seat up front, while the LT can only accommodate eight--but gets more comfortable bucket seats in trade.
Both have extensive audio features, including MP3 connectivity and XM radio for 3 months on trial. The LT adds to this a standard CD changer (LS only gets one CD) and an available, fully-fledged entertainment system, including TV screens and a universal remote.
Rims are another difference potential buyers may want to consider--the LS has standard 17 inch wheels, while the LT goes on fancier 18 inch rims with sportier tires. A remote starter system is offered for the LT, as is a backup assist sensor. Other minor differences to keep in mind are side-view mirror turn signals which are available on the LT.
Handling and Efficiency
In this department there's almost no difference between the two. Both get around 14 MPG in the city and 20 MPG highway, both have a standard traction control system that handles well in inclement weather conditions, and both get the same 26 gallon fuel tank. Suspension and frame components are exactly the same for all Tahoe models, not just the LS and LT.
Chevrolet offers a "build your own" option for all cars, making a mix and match of features possible in many cases. Of course, dealer stock will likely be limited to factory presets such as the LS and LT. Note that GM considers the LT as two trim levels, designated LT 1LT and LT 2LT. The features described above are a generalization of both LT specs, so check with your dealer when looking into a purchase.
Also, a base LT without the "available" options added is almost the same as a regular LS. The price difference between the two is significant--LS starts at around $36,000, while the LT is closer to $44,000.