Chevrolet asked if we’d like to drive a Chevy Tahoe to Memphis for the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.
Of course, we said yes.
By Hope S. Philbrick
My dad always said that when opportunity knocks you have to answer the door. So when a PR firm representing Chevrolet contacted Getaways for Grownups with an offer to test drive a Chevy Tahoe for the weekend to attend the World Championship Barbecue competition, of course I said yes.
“Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet” was the company’s advertising slogan when I was a kid. It was catchy—plus at that time, my great-grandpa and grandpa owned a Chevy dealership, so the brand received more than the usual amount of attention in our family.
Southerners tend to be very loyal to their favorite type of barbecue. Similarly, Chevy Tahoe has the highest customer loyalty in the full-size SUV segment: 79% of Tahoe owners replace their vehicle with another Tahoe. The Chevy Tahoe has been America’s best-selling full-size SUV for years and was named the “Most Dependable Large SUV” in the J.D. Power 2017 Vehicle Dependability Study.
We piled into the loaner 2018 Tahoe 4WD Premier and started driving west toward Memphis. Since it seemed to suit the occasion, we tuned into Elvis Radio (broadcast from Graceland) on SiriusXM radio. The car sits high, rides smooth, and the steering wheel is comfortable to grasp.
First stop: Tupelo, Mississippi…not officially part of the itinerary but it’s on the way and too fun to miss. We stretched our legs, got a glimpse at Elvis’ birthplace plus the hardware store where he bought his first guitar, and grabbed a quick burger lunch at Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen.
We climbed back up into the Chevy Tahoe and continued to Memphis.
Upon arrival in our destination city we checked in and joined the lucky ducks at The Peabody Memphis, a Forbes 4-star, AAA 4-diamond rated hotel in the heart of downtown. Open since 1869 and at its present location since 1925, The Peabody Memphis is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The “South’s Grand Hotel” was treated to a multi-million dollar renovation in late 2013—the next renovation of guestrooms begins today, May 21, 2018! (During our stay, the place didn’t feel in need of an update, so I’ll be curious to see what changes are made.)
We got a genuine taste of Southern hospitality at Chez Philippe for afternoon tea. The server welcomed us with kind, attentive service. We could take our pick among eight different teas while snacks are served in three courses: savory, scone and sweet. The relaxed pace of the elegant snack is a great transition into vacation mode.
Five resident mallard ducks serve as The Peabody hotel mascots and one of Memphis’ most celebrated tourist attractions. They swim in the lobby fountain all day and then famously march to the elevator, escorted by the official red-coated Duckmaster Anthony Petrina (the hotel’s current and fifth Duckmaster) to their rooftop penthouse each evening at 5 p.m. They march back to the fountain at 11 a.m. The twice daily duck marches are well-attended affairs. Arguably, the best view of the duck march is the bird’s eye view from the mezzanine level.
We opted for dinner at Carpaccio Grill inside The Peabody. With steaks, pastas, pizzas and salads, the menu offers options to suit a range of cravings and hunger levels.
Saturday we slept late—the beds at The Peabody are super comfortable!—then headed down to Tom Lee Park on the shores of the Mississippi River for the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, a four-day event where more than 230 teams from over 25 states and several foreign countries compete. This is considered a prestigious barbecue competition, and competitors’ tents sprawl for what feels like miles. To get a taste of the good stuff, we stepped into Barbecue Alley and got samples from five “famous” grillers including “Dr. BBQ” Ray Lampe and Rashad Jones of Big Lee’s Barbecue.
We craved more barbecue (and air-conditioning!), so headed to Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous, a Memphis tradition since 1948. Best known for its smoked ribs and sausages with dry-rub spices, the menu also offers up pork shoulder, chicken, lamb, shrimp, and a few other treats including ham and cheese sandwiches. One of Memphis’ most famous barbecue joints, the casual basement eatery is conveniently located in an alley across the street from The Peabody.
We strolled famous Beale Street, which is lined with honky-tonks, eateries, bars, and shops including A. Schwab, an ice cream and souvenir shop that feels like an old timey general store. We then toured The Memphis Rock N Soul Museum, which pays tribute to musical pioneers, including Elvis. The museum was created by the Smithsonian Institution and is billed as telling “the story of musical pioneers who, for the love of music, overcame racial and socioeconomic barriers to create the music that shook the entire world.” Exhibits in seven galleries offer a comprehensive overview of Memphis music history via photos, costumes, placards, audio-visual programs, plus interactive audio recordings and music selections. The museum’s digital audio tour is packed with information, including over 100 songs.
On its ground level, The Peabody offers several boutique shopping opportunities, including Lansky Bros., which has been operating since 1946 and was famously favored by Elvis. Billed now as “Clothier to the King” where you can “shop in the style of Elvis” and “dress like a rock star,” the store’s men’s shirts range from artsy to bold and are made of cotton fabric that’s so incredibly soft it’s irresistible.
Next day we rose early for a pleasant drive back to Atlanta. The six-hour trip seemed to whiz by as we continued to discover new features about the car. Through sunny and dark skies, and even rain, the car handled beautifully. It offers a very safe feeling and comfortable ride whether you’re in the driver’s or any passenger seat.
During that drive we tried OnStar for the first time ever, asking for restaurant suggestions along the route. The gal who answered was very friendly and helpful. Even the car’s GPS seemed friendlier than most, since the computerized female voice said, “Please turn left…” and not simply “Turn left.”
Barbecue is finger-licking good. I can’t say the exact same thing about the Chevy Tahoe, but it was with some reluctance my fingers let go of the keys when it was time to return it.
Favorite Features: Chevy Tahoe
During our drive, these are the features that we discovered and liked best…
- Smooth ride!
- Soft leather steering wheel
- Leather seats with cooling (and heating) technology
- Hidden storage compartment that locks with a programmable code (it’s as easy to use as a hotel room safe)
- Wi-Fi + wireless charging pad in the center console—Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, along with 4G LTE Wi-Fi with connectivity for up to seven devices!
- Rain sensing wipers
- The driver’s seat shakes if the car’s safety sensors detect the vehicle is too close to something
- The gas tank is huge so we didn’t have to stop to fill between Atlanta/Memphis
- There’s also a myChevrolet Mobile App that turns your mobile device into a virtual command center (start and stop your vehicle, lock and unlock doors, activate the horns and lights, send parking reminders and more)
The sticker price of the 2018 Tahoe 4WD Premier we test drove is $78,450. Fuel economy is listed as 23 mpg highway with an estimated annual cost of $2,450.
The Peabody Memphis
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion. Thanks to Chevrolet for planning and hosting this getaway.