The Midnight Edition Tahoe rolls up to North Italia in Irvine.EXPAND
The Midnight Edition Tahoe rolls up to North Italia in Irvine.
All photos by Matt Coker

A Happier Halloween Thanks to 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD LT Midnight Edition

A 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe Midnight Edition LT is the perfect Halloween vehicle and not only because it is colored black on black on black.

It looks like a narc car, so even if you don't break the law and attach a siren to it, drivers who see you coming will be so frightened they will slow down and get out of the way of you.

You ride high enough to see into just about everyone else's cabin, so you can spook them before they spook you.

And the thing is just a monster. Honestly, most of these Ride Me reviews have involved little sedans and sports cars, and in my real life I drive the cheapest model of Prius. I'd forgotten what it was like to need a step to climb behind a driver's seat, hold a steering wheel positioned for a bus and experience that solid feeling associated with Sherman tanks. The Tahoe is a beast.

To further drive home the black on black on black Halloween theme of the four wheel drive Midnight Edition, I drove it around to Orange County establishments that serve black food or have black in the name, although I did avoid Newport Beach's legendary Blackie's By the Sea bar—don't drink and drive, kids!

North Italia's Black Mediterranean Mussels and Squid Ink MafaldineEXPAND
North Italia's Black Mediterranean Mussels and Squid Ink Mafaldine

First stop was North Italia (2957 Michelson Drive, Irvine), a casual Italian restaurant in a space that used to be occupied by a California Pizza Kitchen. Getting there required a short jaunt to the 405 freeway onramp, a quick trip to the Jamboree Road exit and then Michelson Drive and finally an open parking space in the shopping center. All of this was a breeze thanks to the Tahoe's beefy 5.3L V8 Ecotec3 engine with six-speed automatic transmission—that is, all of it except the parking. During my time with the Tahoe I had a real problem staying in the middle of parking space lines, which is no reflection on the vehicle but my own recent limited experience with a big ride.

Once I got the sucker centered, I went inside ultra-modern North Italia and ordered the small plate of Black Mediterranean Mussels. It was an absolute revelation: While I have appreciate mussels in cioppino, which is one of my favorite Italian dishes, I can't remember the last time I dove into a plate of nothing but molluscs. Whenever it was, North Italia made me miss it with perfectly steamed mussels swimming in melted butter and slices of garlic and spicy salami. It was served with fresh bread with a little bit of melted cheese on it that I could have lived off of alone—if I had that butter to dunk it in.

My tablemate went for the Squid Ink Mafaldine, which has white shrimp and calamari, tossed and topped with an acqua pazza tomato sauce, sprinkled with fennel pollen and calabrian chili and garnished with a mint chiffonade. Black, for this story's conceit, comes in with the color of the ribbon pasta, courtesy of the squid ink. Now, I don't know what squid ink tastes like so I can't tell you if that permeates this dish. What I do know, based on my discourteous stabs at my partner's pasta, shrimp and calamari, is the Squid Ink Mafaldine has a subtle citrus flavor that came through all over again the next morning when the leftovers—straight out of the fridge, never heated in the microwave—served as my breakfast.

Looking back from the driver's seat at the two rows of leather-covered seats that can fit six people.EXPAND
Looking back from the driver's seat at the two rows of leather-covered seats that can fit six people.

In between stops on the Tahoe Midnight Black Halloween Tour was a pre-scheduled dinner with several friends at the world famous Dal Rae in Pico Rivera, a restaurant our group adores because of its Rat Pack vibe. Thanks to have the Tahoe, I was able to pack eight of us in for the ride over.

Everyone remarked about how smooth and comfortable the ride was. I know my driver seat was as comfy as a leather recliner. It and the other front bucket seat are heated and have power adjusters. There are also driver seat and pedal memory settings. The second and third row seats are 60/40 split fold flat benches. The smoothness was no doubt due to premium ride suspension, the fully automatic locking rear differential and, because of LT Midnight Edition additions, the p275/55R20 all-season blackwall tires. (The $1,835 package also includes 20-inch black painted alloy wheels and two things installed by the dealer: roof rack cross rails and black bowtie emblems.)

Maintaining our mood while whizzing along the 605 freeway was the Frank Sinatra station on the SiriusXM radio station that plays from the Chevrolet MyLink audio system. Tahoe buyers get three months free before they have to subscribe to the satellite service to continue hearing Old Blue Eyes and all the rest of the stations, but if you get the Luxury Package of extras it's nine months before you must sign up.

What are the odds of the Tahoe finding a parking place directly in front of Bluewater Grill in Newport Beach?EXPAND
What are the odds of the Tahoe finding a parking place directly in front of Bluewater Grill in Newport Beach?

Also included with the Luxury Package, which will set you back $2,995, are: passive entry system including remote keyless start; power release to fold up or down the aforementioned back seats; power tilt and telescopic steering column; heated steering wheel; front and rear park assist; rear cross traffic alert; lane change alert with side blind zone alert; power heated outside mirrors with turn signal indicator; front fog lamps; rear fascia closeout; wireless charging; and hands free lift gate.

All the extras and options on my particular test vehicle added a cool $9,070 to the total vehicle cost that will be revealed below. These included the $3,210 Sun, Entertainment, Destination Package with power sunroof;, the Chevrolet MyLink audio system with 8-inch diagonal color touch and navigation and rear seat entertainment system. The $780 maximum trailering package provides the 3.42 ratio rear axle, trailer brake controller, two-speed transfer case and the suspension package. And the all -weather floor liner came for another $250.

Indeed, we rode in luxury to the next tour stop: Bluewater Grill (630 Lido Park Drive, Newport Beach), which for the purposes of this story should have been replaced by Blackwater Grill but since I know of no Blackwater Grill, Bluewater Grill it was. The black came in with my Chipotle Blackened Barramundi, which has the tasty Asian sea bass blackened on the bottom kissing the platter. It was served with chipotle dirty rice, sweet corn and chunky avocado relish.

Bluewater Grill's Chipotle Blackened BarramundiEXPAND
Bluewater Grill's Chipotle Blackened Barramundi

Somewhere in the center of Fashion Island, in a place I cannot possibly describe how to get to except to say I passed both the Lincoln Experience and Tesla Motors stores to get there, is Juice Served Here (1001 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach), which is a no nonsense joint that serves juices, drinks and cleanses. I got a bottle of pre-made Charcoal Lemonade that tasted ... OK. But $8? I'll stick to Minute Maid.

While I may not have connected to that place, my Tahoe test ride's connectivity features included: OnStar's five- year basic plan plus three month service with automatic crash response, navigation and more (subject to terms); 4G LTE Wi-Fi(R) hotspot with limited data trial and more (again, subject to terms); Bluetooth for phone; Chevrolet MyLink audio system with diagonal color touch; and, if you don't get the Luxury Package, the three months of SiriusXM.

A highly recommended tour stop is The Loop (9729 Bolsa Ave., Westminster), which makes handcrafted churros that include the desserts I brought to a dinner party: Halloween Night Loop Churros dipped in Charcoal Tiramisu ice cream. When the shiny black sugar sprinkles were being applied to the churros, I was expecting the worst, by which I mean an incurable headache.

The Black Trumpet calls ...EXPAND
The Black Trumpet calls ...

Another real find—as in I'm already highly anticipating my next visit—is The Black Trumpet (18344 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach). I love tapas and I love Mediterranean food and The Black Trumpet serves both. Our helpful waitress suggested, if we were not ordering entrees, to get three tapas each. We split the difference and shared an entree and three tapas.

The full meal was a Blackened Shrimp Shish Kebob with charcoal tinged crustaceans served on a skewer and charcoal tinged veggies (zucchini, tomatoes, red onions, green bell peppers) served on a second skewer alongside delicious basmati rice, tabouli, hummus and tzatziki.

For the tapas, it was Sicilian stuffed mushrooms with Madeira wine reduction, house made falafel and—a special that particular night—one of the most tender ribeye steaks I have ever been served. Shortly after we'd sat down, we were brought pita bread with a feta cheese/olive oil/green olives thing going, and what we had not already eaten came in handy to sop up the various dips and sauces of the other dishes.

Blackened Shrimp Skewer illuminated by the gold coming off a Golden Road IPA. (Don't drink and drive!)EXPAND
Blackened Shrimp Skewer illuminated by the gold coming off a Golden Road IPA. (Don't drink and drive!)

It was two short blocks to Creamistry (18502 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach), where this dark magical mystery tour ended with what I thought were two separate desserts: Charcoal Cookies & Scream and Midnight Black Waffle Cone. Actually, the black ice cream with Oreo cookies mixed in was served inside the chocolate black waffle cone, and if that sounds way too chocolatey for you, it was actually more subtle than you'd expect thanks to the airy mouthfeel of the Creamistry ice cream. Two of us split one cone and felt perfectly satisfied.

Do you know what else is satisfying? Knowing you have enough room in your ride to store a bunch of stuff. Other Ride Me vehicles already spoiled me when it came to lift gates that open and close with keyless remotes or buttons on the door frame, but the Tahoe is the first I know of where you can set exactly how high or low you want that lift gate to go, something that should attract short people and NBA stars alike.

Do you know what else is satisfying? Knowing that you are safe, even in a Sherman tank. Safety and security features on this Midnight Edition include: forward collision alert; lane keep assist; low speed forward auto braking; rear vision camera; tire pressure monitor system (excludes spare tire); air bags, frontal and side impact for driver and front passenger, driver inboard seat mounted, side-impact and head curtain side-impact for all rows in outboard seat positions; theft deterrent system; and Stabiltrak electronic stability control system. This Tahoe aces government safety ratings when it comes to frontal crash, driver and passenger as well as side crash for front and rear seats (5 stars apiece). It's only 3 stars for rollovers, which drops the overall government rating down to a still respectable 4 stars.

The lift gate opens and closes and the bench row seats fold down with the push of buttons.EXPAND
The lift gate opens and closes and the bench row seats fold down with the push of buttons.

Other exterior features not previously mentioned on this 2017 Tahoe were: Intellibeam headlamps; rain-sensing wipers; power heated outside mirrors; remote keyless entry; and 17-inch steel spare wheel. Also standard: power adjustable pedals; leather wrap steering wheel; steering wheel controls; remote vehicle start; auto dimming inside mirror; universal home remote; express down, express up front power windows; tri-zone automatic climate control; Bose premium audio system; and 110-volt AC power outlet.

Also standard is the five-year, 160,000-mile powertrain limited warranty and two maintenance visits with oil and filter changes and four wheel tire rotation. The standard version's manufacturer suggested retail price is $55,455. With all the options on my test ride that I mentioned (and possibly forgot to include), that sticker price shoots up to $64.525, and with the destination charge ($1,295) and Sun, Entertainment and Destinations Package discount (-$500), the total vehicle price comes to $65,320.

But as mentioned up top, this ride is a beast. The EPA Fuel Economy and Environment mileage is 16 in the city, 22 on the highway and a measly 18 combined. The average 5.6 gallons of fuel burned per 100 miles will have you spending $3,250 more over five years than drivers of the average new vehicle. (Annual fuel cost: $2,050.) The fuel economy and greenhouse gas rating, on a 1-10 scale with 10 being best, is only a 3, while the smog rating is a 5.

Beasts must be fed.

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