Minor equipment changes mark the 2004 models of Chevrolets strong-selling Tahoe full-size sport utility vehicle, which is based on the companys Silverado pickup truck. The Tahoe is the less-gargantuan kid brother of the king-size Suburban. GMC produces a near twin called the Yukon. Both models compete against the Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia.
A tire-pressure monitor is now standard, Hydroboost brakes are installed, and the right-front passenger gets a seat belt reminder. Traction assist and a locking rear differential are available for 2004. The wheels have been redesigned, and 17-inch tires on new five-spoke aluminum wheels are offered for the LT models.
The Tahoe still comes in LS and LT trim levels. A Z71 Off-Road Package that includes a specially tuned suspension and 17-inch all-terrain tires is available for the 4x4 LS.
To most shoppers, the four-door Tahoe has one clear advantage over the Suburban: more manageable dimensions. The smaller measurements translate to easier maneuverability. The Tahoe rides a 116-inch wheelbase and measures 196.9 inches long overall thats 9 inches shorter than Fords Expedition and more than 20 inches shorter than its Suburban sibling. The four-wheel-drive Tahoe stands more than 76 inches tall and has a ground clearance of 8.4 inches. Buyers get the choice of swing-out rear cargo doors or a liftgate.
As many as nine people can fit inside the Tahoe when it is equipped with the optional three-place 50/50-split rear bench seat. The front and middle bench seats also hold three passengers each. Front buckets are optional. The middle and rear seats fold down and can be removed.
The Tahoe holds 104.6 cubic feet of cargo when the middle and rear seats are removed and 16.3 cubic feet when the rear seat is in place. Adjustable brake and accelerator pedals with or without a memory feature are available. A driver information center works with 34 functions. Entertainment options include XM Satellite Radio, a rear-seat Panasonic DVD entertainment system and a family of Radio Data System (RDS) radios.
Under the Hood
A 285-horsepower, 4.8-liter V-8 engine goes into the LS, while the LT gets a 295-hp, 5.3-liter V-8. The 5.3-liter power plant is optional for the LS. Both engines team with a four-speed-automatic transmission. The Tahoe may be equipped with either rear-wheel drive or Autotrac four-wheel drive, which engages automatically to regain or maintain traction on slippery surfaces. Optional trailer packages give rear-drive models a 7,700-pound towing capacity, while the four-wheel-drive Tahoe can haul 7,400 pounds.
All-disc antilock brakes and side-impact airbags are standard. GMs StabiliTrak electronic stability system is optional on models equipped with the 5.3-liter V-8 engine.
From behind the wheel, both the Tahoe and its Yukon cousin come across as tolerable in size for most journeys. Not only is the Tahoe easy to drive, but it can actually be enjoyable. It is roomy and comfortable inside.
The Tahoe maneuvers better than its external dimensions suggest. Its performance is abundant and the ride is reasonably smooth, but the action gets harsher if a model is equipped with the Z71 Off-Road Package. In offroad treks and trailer-towing tasks, the Z71 delivers a wholly satisfying experience.