Tahoe is a full-size SUV that was redesigned last year and is based on the Silverado pickup. Tahoe is the kid brother of the king-size Suburban, a kissing cousin of the GMC Yukon and a direct rival for the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.
A new Z71 offroad package is available on the LS four-wheel-drive model. It includes a firmer suspension; 17-inch wheels and tires; tubular side steps; wheel flares and lower body moldings; color-keyed grille, mirrors and bumpers; and the OnStar communication system. OnStar is standard on the top-shelf LT model and available as a separate option on the LS.
Tahoe is a four-door with an overall length of 199 inches, nearly 6 inches shorter than the Ford Expedition and 20 inches shorter than the Suburban. Buyers have a choice of swing-out rear cargo doors or an aluminum liftgate. An optional roof rack holds 200 pounds.
Tahoe holds as many as nine people with an optional three-place rear seat. The front and middle bench seats also hold three people, and a pair of front buckets is optional. The middle and rear seats fold for additional cargo room or can be removed, with integral wheels designed to make the chore easier.
Maximum cargo volume is 105 cubic feet with the middle and rear seats removed. With the optional rear seat in place, cargo volume drops to 16 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
Two V-8 engines return from last year, a 4.8-liter with 275 horsepower and a 5.3-liter with 285 hp. All Tahoe models are available with either two- or four-wheel drive. The 4WD system is called Autotrac and engages automatically when needed. All models use a four-speed automatic transmission. Optional trailer packages give 2WD models a 7,900-pound towing capacity and 4WD models an 8,700-pound capacity. Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard.
The current Tahoe is more refined than its predecessors, but you still know youre driving a big truck on twisty roads and over rough pavement. Though there is only a 10 -hp difference between the two V-8s, the 5.3-liter is a better choice because of its greater torque. Neither engine will be a fuel-economy champ.
Chevrolet touts the Tahoe as a nine-passenger vehicle, but the rear seat is big enough only for kids, who will literally have to crawl in and out. Tahoe works best as a five- or six-passenger vehicle. In that configuration, it gives all occupants ample room and leaves plenty of space for cargo.