Ghost hunting with the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Midnight Edition

Laugh and mock if you will, but the chance to visit one of America’s most notorious haunted sites doesn’t just rise up and claw its way out of the ground every day. So when we were offered the chance to pay the ghosts of Pennhurst Asylum a visit on their home turf, we summoned our courage and made a pact to hear the bells toll midnight in one of the most storied psychiatric hospitals of modern times.

Highway to Hell

To venture out in search of eldritch horrors, we selected the only appropriate vehicles in the world – a trio of 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Midnight Edition SUVs. We also enlisted the help of the professionals at Ghost Hunts USA, who bring both paranormal sensitivity and bloodless scientific efficiency to the study of tortured spirits.

The full-size Tahoe offers you 94.7 cubic feet of cargo space, enough room to stack at least eight bodies and a shovel.

We climbed into the Tahoes in sleepy Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. On the surface, this is a quaint eastern community of several thousand souls, with neatly trimmed lawns fronting well-kept homes. But the town hides dark secrets in the nearby hills.

The Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic, better known as Pennhurst, was opened in 1908. We’ll spare you the details, but the institution was closed by judicial orders in 1987.

The Tahoe Midnight Edition stitches together an urbane blackout color scheme with Chevy’s rugged Z71 off-road package to build the perfect beast for the climb up Pennhurst hill. Even with the raised Z71 suspension and dual-range 4WD, the Midnight Edition cabin is quiet as the grave on the road.

Three rows of leather-trimmed seats provide ample space for you and six pallbearers. With the rear seats folded down, the full-size Tahoe offers you 94.7 cubic feet of cargo space, or in practical terms, enough room to stack at least eight bodies and a shovel.

The 5.3-liter Ecotec V8 engine provided us with 335 heart-pounding horsepower and 383 pound-feet of neck-snapping torque, and the six-speed automatic transmission was as smooth as the satin lining of a coffin. The base price of the 4WD Tahoe LT is $56,750 after all fees are applied, and the Z71 Midnight Edition package adds another $2,630. The Tahoes we had, however, were laden with all the nifty things, and carried a sticker price of $65,085.

Chasing Ghosts

Equipped with the latest in ghost-detection technology along with various totems and charms, we made our way out to Pennhurst like some sort of four-wheel-drive funeral procession. The Tahoe’s shift-on-the-fly 4WD got us up to the site, but to navigate the bogs and overgrown pathways, we dropped the transfer case into low range and powered through. Pulling onto the campus as light faded and night gathered around us, we took our first look at the skeletal remains of the asylum.

The chance to visit one of America’s most haunted sites doesn’t just rise up and claw its way out of the ground every day.

Pennhurst has mostly fallen into ruins now, overgrown with vines and trees as though the Earth itself seeks to reclaim the site and erase its scar upon the land. But a few buildings still stand in silent accusation, offering mute testimony of their history.

“You have to remember, the spirits we encounter were people once,” said one of our guides. “And they’re trapped here by what happened to them.”

Most buildings at Pennhurst are too decayed and dangerous to enter, but one bleak structure remains mostly intact. It is a foreboding four-story brick structure ironically called the Mayflower building. Once home to scores of patients, shadows now stare out of broken windows and speak with the creaking voice of rusty hinges and the howl of the chilly October wind. As you approach the door, abandoned gurneys and broken wheelchairs presage what you’ll find inside.

We began our hunt in the basement. All the buildings at Pennhurst were connected by a system of underground tunnels, and it was here our Medium began his attempts to communicate with the erstwhile residents. A special multi-spectrum scanner provided auditory enhancement to the responses from the beyond. The purgatory of the spirits is a large place, if the amount of echo in the scanner is any indication. But several words came through clearly: Trespasser, Leave, and of course, Demon.

In the course of our evening, we visited all four floors of the building, including the dormitory floors where patients lived. “The fourth floor is the most haunted,” our Medium told us. “But there’s a man on the ground floor who guards the entrance. He’s friendly, but he wants your shoelaces. You see, they weren’t allowed to have them when he was alive for fear of suicides.”

The phantoms were quiet that night, though our guides assured us that virtually every other time they’d been to Pennhurst, the poltergeists had been quite active. By midnight, we’d all heard enough creaks and bangs from the walls to last a (very abbreviated) lifetime, so we thanked the spirits for sparing us from ritual exsanguination, and made our way back to the Tahoes, spiriting away from crumbling Pennhurst and its ghastly remembrance. We locked the doors, switched on the heated seats, programmed the navigation to guide us to safety, and returned once more to the land of the living, praying only that nothing else had hitched a ride out with us.

Smart Home

Is old-school Airstream finally embracing smart home technology?

Airstream's vintage-looking trailers have a huge audience but its 2019 Classic camping trailers are getting a modern upgrade with the addition of app-controlled smart home technology to bring modern convenience online.
Gaming

Not ready for the new 'Fortnite' winter wonderland? Here's our tourist guide

Fortnite season 7 has arrived with some chilly winter air and some pretty hefty changes to the Battle Royale map. We've got the full guide to all of the map changes, new locations, new terrain, and more, right here.
Gaming

Break the rules and bust a move to complete the 'Fortnite' dance challenge

Fortnite season 7 has finally arrived along with a chilly breeze. New maps, new locations, and, of course, new challenges are here. The biggest of the week 1 challenges is the Fortnite forbidden dance locations and we've got all of the…
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Cars

Did that car just wink at you? Daimler previews car-to-pedestrian signals

Eager to show off progress with autonomous cars and perhaps do some consumer softening as well, Daimler and Bosch previewed car-to-pedestrian communications. A sensor-loaded Mercedes S appears to wink to acknowledge a pedestrian's presence.
Cars

Uber is about to restart self-driving car tests but on a reduced scale

Uber is reported to be on the verge of restarting its autonomous-car test program. The company halted it in March 2018 following a fatal accident involving one of its vehicles, but its cars could be back on the road within weeks.
Cars

Bosch is developing a Rosetta Stone for autonomous and connected cars

Bosch and start-up Veniam want to create a common language that autonomous and connected cars can use. The two firms have developed a connectivity unit that transcends the national boundaries of technology.
Cars

Aston Martin bets classic car owners will choose volts over carburetors

Aston Martin has converted one of its most sought-after classic models to run on electricity instead of gasoline. The roadster uses electric components sourced from the upcoming Rapide E sedan.
Cars

Volkswagen may be planning a tougher challenge for its all-electric I.D. R

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car may head to the Nürburgring in 2019 for a lap-record attempt, according to a new report. Volkswagen will reportedly aim to set the quickest lap time ever by an electric car.
Cars

600-hp, $155K Polestar 1 is the alluring Volvo coupe you’ve been waiting for

Volvo's return to the coupe segment just took an interesting turn: the model will join the Polestar lineup, and it will get a 600-hp plug-in hybrid powertrain. The Polestar 1 will be built in China starting in 2019.
Cars

The Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake is the sexiest wagon ever

Aston Martin has revealed new photos of the limited-production Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake. The Vanquish Zagato line now includes the Shooting Brake, Coupe, Volante, and Speedster, each with bespoke styling.
Cars

Nissan and Italdesign’s GT-R50 concept will become a $1.1 million reality

The Nissan GT-R50 is a customized sports car built to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of both the GT-R and design firm Italdesign. Underneath the sleek bodywork sits a 710-horsepower engine fortified with race car components.
Cars

Ford’s new Shelby GT500 Mustang will have 3D-printed brake parts

Ford's new $45 million Advanced Manufacturing Center will focus on emerging technologies, including 3D printing. One of the staff's first jobs is to print parts for the 700-horsepower Shelby GT500 Mustang.
Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.