SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 27,857 Price As Tested $ 34,883 Engine Type OHV 16-valve 5.3 Liter V8 w/SMFI* Engine Size 325 cid/5328 cc Horsepower 285 @ 5200 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 325 @ 4000 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 116.0"/78.9"/198.9" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 5225 pounds Fuel Capacity 26.0 gallons Tires (F/R) P265/70R16 all-terrain Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/four-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Six-passenger/five-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 15/20/17 0-60 MPH 9.0 seconds Maximum payload capacity 1751 pounds Maximum towing capacity 8700 pounds * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
It's been a few years since the full-sized Chevy Tahoe has been referred to as the Blazer. That pioneer SUV began life as a utilitarian vehicle that was favored by government agencies like the U.S. Forest Service. Its successor, the Tahoe, comes as the top-line LT and as our mid-trim tester, the Tahoe LS.
OUTSIDE - The Tahoe's stronger, more rigid frame and body structure are major improvements achieved by changing it to a full-sized truck platform . Larger body sections, stiffened joints and a relocated spare tire are noticeable improvements too. As opposed to the previous model, the new Tahoe offers a shape that is devoid of sharp creases and corners, and is obviously more aerodynamic. Modest fender flares have been added as well, along with wide rub-strips down each side door. Two new color choices, Forest Green Metallic and Redfire Metallic, have been added. Additionally, all two-tone color choice have been eliminated. Tahoe LS models can also be had with an optional Z71 package, which adds such exterior items such as tubular side-steps, a specially lighted roof rack, special fog lamps, 17-inch wheels and tires, and color-keyed bumpers, door handles, mirrors and grille.
INSIDE - A expected from a full-sized SUV, the seats are substantial with lots of room for the biggest occupants. Its low step-in height and loading floor make it easy to climb aboard and to load cargo, while lots of glass and a low dashboard give plenty of visibility all around. The controls and switches are logically placed and simple to use, and the wide center console has lots of useful nooks and crannies for storage. Headroom, legroom and shoulder room are all more than ample although the third-row seat is best left to transporting kids. Chevrolet's innovative quick-folding second row of seats gives easier access to the two-piece, split-folding third row "kiddie" seat. With all rear seating in the upright position, there's a modest amount of room for cargo accessed through the rear door. Standard Tahoe LS interior features include front and rear air conditioning, cruise control, self-dimming rearview mirror, tilt steering, cloth upholstery and an AM/FM/CD stereo system.
ON THE ROAD - Two engines are available on the Tahoe and both are iron-block V8s labeled Vortec by General Motors. The first is 4.8 liters and produces 275 horsepower with 290 lb-ft of torque. This is impressive, but the next level brings the Vortec 5300, which produces 285 horsepower and a stump-pulling 325 lb-ft of torque from 5.3-liters. Both feature sequential multi-port fuel injection, aluminum cylinder heads and reinforced main bearing caps. Mated to this is an electrically-controlled four-speed automatic transmission that offers a driver-selectable tow/haul mode, which changes the shift patterns to maximize the engine's torque pattern. The Tahoe's AutoTrac four-wheel drive system is part-time and can be set in an automatic mode to send power to the front wheels only when needed. It can also be locked into a 4Hi mode for inclement roads, or in 4Lo for maximum grip at slow speeds.
BEHIND THE WHEEL - The Tahoe is designed to be a rugged, go-almost- anywhere 4X4. It's built atop a full ladder-type frame and although it basically uses GM's pickup platform, it's not a direct transplant. The GM SUVs use extra-rigid box section frame rails versus the pickup's frame which is designed using C-section rails from about the A-pillar rearward. This gives the truck a small degree of chassis flexibility. The Tahoe front suspension uses unequal-length control arms, with torsion bars and tubular shocks. The rigid rear axle is controlled by a five-link system that rides on somewhat softer coil springs to provide a smooth ride, especially with a full load of passengers. Recirculating- ball power steering uses a variable-assist system that makes it easier to turn the wheel during low-speed parking maneuvers, but gives good road feel at higher speeds. Four-wheel disc brakes are standard with standard four-wheel ABS (anti-lock braking system).
SAFETY - Dual front and side-impact airbags, ABS and daytime running lamps are standard.
OPTIONS - Trailer package, $285; rear seat audio controls, $150.