Back in 1994, there were two Chevrolet Blazer sport-utility vehicles on the market and it was somewhat confusing. The original Blazer was a full-size two-door sport-ute that had been around for many years. The S-10 Blazer was its smaller brother based on the compact S-series pickup truck.

In order to stop the confusion, in 1995 Chevrolet renamed the full-size Blazer calling it the Tahoe. At the same time it also introduced a four-door model, which was essentially a shorter version of the Suburban. It was an immediate success, such that the two-door Tahoe quickly became a rarity.

If you don't need to carry up to nine passengers the Tahoe, or the almost identical GMC Yukon, makes much more sense than a Suburban, as it is almost two feet shorter. Despite this, it still offers generous interior space for up to six people and lots of luggage. The Tahoe is slightly smaller than its main rival, the Ford Expedition, yet it has as much interior space. Tahoe is also the only full-size sport-utility available in two-door or four-door configurations.

What You Need To Know:

1. Review of a 1996 Chevrolet Tahoe

2. Summary of Good and Bad Points by Owners

3. History of Tahoe and Yukon

4. Review of Current Model

5. Basic Facts

6. Changes Year-to-Year

7. Option Installment Rate

8. Sales History

9. Awards and Commendations Earned

10. Other Reviews

11. Price of Spare Parts

 

1. Pre-Owned Vehicle Evaluation 1996 Chevrolet Tahoe LT

Likes: pleasant ride, powerful, lots of interior space

Dislikes: so-so handling, poor fuel economy, truck-like interior

Competitors: (on same platform: GMC Yukon, GMC Denali, Cadillac Escalade), Dodge Durango, Ford Expedition, Toyota Land Cruiser

Miles: 39,000

Condition: A

Price when new: $36,000 (est.)

Posted Price: $29,895

From a distance it is difficult to tell the Tahoe and its bigger brother the Suburban apart. This is not surprising as they are both identical up to the passenger side doors.

This particular black Tahoe had tinted privacy glass, which made it look quite mean - the sort of vehicle a FBI agent would drive in a TV program. It had leather seats and a premium stereo system making it quite the luxury sport-utility.

I was disappointed to note that the leather was badly cracked on the driver's seat and there were several places where the rubber gaskets on the windows were coming loose. The interior is also still very truck-like with large areas of hard plastic. However, all the gauges and switches are well placed so it is functional. Cupholders pop out all over the place - I counted no less than six.

The Tahoe comes standard with a powerful 5.7-liter V-8 engine, which is more than capable of hauling this large vehicle around. Coupled to a smooth automatic transmission the vehicle is easy to drive. The ride was also surprisingly smooth and handling is what I'd expect from such a large truck-based vehicle. As long as you respect the vehicle's high center of gravity it shouldn't cause any alarm. The two-door version's ride is slightly rougher as it has a shorter wheelbase.

It's interior space where the Tahoe shines. There is plenty of room for five passengers and even six with an optional front bench seat. There is a surprisingly large amount of space behind the rear seats for luggage and it is free from an intruding spare tire as it is located under the floor. The model I tested came with dual opening rear doors which makes loading and unloading much easier than the split tailgate option. When the tailgate is lowered it is a stretch to reach into the cargo area. Small packages can be passed through the opening rear window though in this case.

GM's OnStar emergency communication and GPS system have been available as an option for the Tahoe and Yukon since 1999. Another improvement is the optional Autotrac 4WD system that automatically switches into four-wheel-drive mode when slip is detected in the rear wheels. This is the first 4WD system for the Tahoe that can run on the pavement. It has been available since 1998.

A new Z71 off-road version introduced in 1999 offers a rugged package that should satisfy those few Tahoe owners who want to do some serious off-roading. Needless to say the ride on the highway is much worse than in a regular Tahoe.

Overall the Tahoe (or the Yukon), especially the four-door model, is a good solid full-size sport-utility. It does not offer the cavernous interior carrying capacity of the Suburban but it is more maneuverable and offers slightly more performance and better fuel economy as there's less weight to cart around. If you don't need to carry nine passengers look at the Tahoe instead of the Suburban.

 

2. Summing It Up - Owners' Views

Good:

"Fantastic vehicle"

"No problems"

"Sporty vehicle with room"

"Seems to hold its value"

"Very safe car"

"No problems"

Bad:

"Feels like a truck"

"Too big for traveling in alone"

"You need the four-door model"

 

3. History of Tahoe and Yukon

Although the Tahoe name has only been used for four years, the model dates back to 1969 when the full-size Blazer was first introduced. At first it was an open-top rugged off-road vehicle aimed to compete with the Jeep of the time. An enclosed model was introduced in 1975. A few years after the C/K pickup truck was redesigned an all-new Blazer was introduced in 1992, built off the same chassis. The current Tahoe is essentially still the same vehicle. The full-size Blazer was renamed Tahoe in 1995 when Chevrolet opted to keep the Blazer name on the compact S-10 Blazer.

Even though the Tahoe is really nothing more than a shorter version of the Chevy Suburban it has been marketed separately. The GMC version has been called the Yukon since 1992. It has also spawned a variation called the Denali, which is a more luxurious version. The latest offspring is the Cadillac Escalade, which has even more luxurious appointments.

The full-size Chevrolet pickup truck was redesigned for 1999 and renamed Silverado. Likewise the newest Tahoe/Yukon is based off this vehicle and it appeared late in 1999 as a 2000-model-year vehicle. Although the new Tahoe and Yukon look similar to the old model underneath the skin GM has made many improvements to the various models that carry the Tahoe and Yukon badges.

 

4. Review of Current Tahoe

The newest versions of the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon, introduced in 2000, were more evolutionary than revolutionary compared to their predecessors. The engines and transmissions were improved for performance while suspension changes made the ride smoother. However they still handle and feel like trucks.

An optional third row seat on the Tahoe provides seating for up to nine people but leaves precious little space in the rear for cargo. The Suburban (or Yukon XL) is obviously a better choice for those who must carry more than six passengers. Another shortcoming of the Tahoe is the small opening for the rear side doors, which makes getting in and out difficult for people in the second row and really tough for those trying to clamber into the third row of seats.

 

5 Basic Facts: 1995 - 1999 Tahoe/Yukon

Vehicle Type: Full-Size Sport-Utility

No. Passengers: up to six

Origin of assembly: Janesville, WI, Arlington, TX ('98 on) and Silao, Mexico

Engine: (standard): 5.7-liter 210 hp V-8 ('92-'95); 5.7-liter 255 hp V-8 ('96-'99)

(optional): 6.5-liter 180 hp V-8 turbo-diesel

Transmission: 4-spd automatic; rear-drive or 4WD

Length: 188 inches (2-door); 118 inches (4-door)

Wheelbase: 112 inches (2-door); 118 inches (4-door)

Width: 77 inches

Height: 71 inches (2-door); 73 inches (4-door)

Curb weight: 4600 lbs. (approx.)

Cargo volume: 99 cu. ft. (2-door); 118 cu. ft. (4-door)

Fuel tank capacity: 30 gals.

Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway): 15/19 (5.7-liter); n/a (6.5-liter diesel)

Safety and Recall information can be obtained from a variety of sources including elsewhere on autotrader.com.

 

6. Changes in the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon Lines 1995 - 1999

1995 Model Year

First year for Tahoe nameplate

Four-door model added

Driver side airbag introduced

1996 Model Year

Improved standard V-8 engine

1997 Model Year

Passenger side airbag added

1998 Model Year

De-powered airbags installed

OnStar and Autotrac 4WD added as options

1999 Model Year

Minor enhancements to engine and transmission

 

7. Option Installment Rate for Tahoe/Yukon

Generally, when you order a new car you have a choice of factory-installed options. When you buy a pre-owned vehicle the choice is limited to what was actually installed on vehicles sold in that model year. Use this option installment rate as a guide to the chances of finding particular options on a pre-owned vehicle. Source: Ward's Automotive Yearbooks

Standard equipment on all 4-door models: automatic transmission, ABS, air conditioning, power windows, cruise control (also fitted on all but a handful of 2-door models as well)

1995 Model Year

Installment Rate

Engine:

5.7-liter: 99% (Tahoe); 97% (Yukon)

6.5-liter diesel: 1% (Tahoe); 3% (Yukon)

Transmission:

Manual: 1% (Tahoe); 2% (Yukon)

Automatic: 99% (Tahoe); 98% (Yukon)

Body Style:

2-door 20% (Tahoe); 19% (Yukon)

4-door 80% (Tahoe); 81% (Yukon)

4WD: 89% (Tahoe); 89% (Yukon)

Air Conditioning: 99% (Tahoe); 99% (Yukon)

Power Windows: 98% (Tahoe); 97% (Yukon)

Cruise Control: 98% (Tahoe); 98% (Yukon)

Leather Seats n/a% (Tahoe); n/a% (Yukon)

Remote/Keyless Entry: n/a% (Tahoe); n/a% (Yukon)

1996 Model Year

Installment Rate

Engine:

5.7-liter: 99.8% (Tahoe); 98% (Yukon)

6.5-liter diesel: 0.2% (Tahoe); 2% (Yukon)

Body Style:

2-door 18% (Tahoe); 17% (Yukon)

4-door 82% (Tahoe); 83% (Yukon)

4WD 82% (Tahoe); 83% (Yukon)

Power Windows: 100% (Tahoe); 98% (Yukon)

Leather Seats 29% (Tahoe); 33% (Yukon)

Remote/Keyless Entry: 89% (Tahoe); 88% (Yukon)

1997 Model Year

Installment Rate

Engine:

5.7-liter: 99.9% (Tahoe); 99.8% (Yukon)

6.5-liter diesel: 0.1% (Tahoe); 0.2% (Yukon)

Body Style:

2-door 17% (Tahoe); 17% (Yukon)

4-door 83% (Tahoe); 83% (Yukon)

4WD 86% (Tahoe); 87% (Yukon)

Leather Seats 29% (Tahoe); 31% (Yukon)

Remote/Keyless Entry: 92% (Tahoe); 90% (Yukon)

1998 Model Year

Installment Rate

Engine:

5.7-liter: 99.9% (Tahoe); 100% (Yukon)

6.5-liter diesel: 0.1% (Tahoe); 0% (Yukon)

Body Style:

2-door 10% (Tahoe); 0% (Yukon)

4-door 90% (Tahoe); 100% (Yukon)

4WD 74% (Tahoe); 78% (Yukon)

Leather Seats 40% (Tahoe); 81% (Yukon)

Remote/Keyless Entry: 97% (Tahoe); 100% (Yukon)

1999 Model Year

Installment Rate

Engine:

5.7-liter: 99.8% (Tahoe); 100% (Yukon)

6.5-liter diesel: 0.2% (Tahoe); 0% (Yukon)

Body Style:

2-door 9% (Tahoe); 0% (Yukon)

4-door 91% (Tahoe); 100% (Yukon)

4WD 73% (Tahoe); 78% (Yukon)

Leather Seats 40% (Tahoe); 67% (Yukon)

Remote/Keyless Entry: 98% (Tahoe); 100% (Yukon)

 

8. Production/Sales Volume History

Normally a model year runs from October to September. Often though, when a new version is introduced it hits the market before October. Legally, a model year can start as early as January of the preceding year. Accurate model year sales counts are almost impossible to collect as different model year vehicles are regularly sold side-by-side for several months. Production figures, when listed, often include vehicles made for export to Canada, Mexico and overseas. Source: manufacturers/Ward's Automotive Yearbooks

1995 Model Year (first year of Tahoe)

Production run: Oct. 1994 through Oct. 1995

Total number produced: Tahoe 80,704; Yukon 29,049

Total no. sold in U.S.: Tahoe 56,741; Yukon 21,308

1996 Model Year

Production run: Nov. 1995 through Sept. 1996

Total number produced: Tahoe 124,038; Yukon 36,566

Total no. sold in U.S.: Tahoe 120,820; Yukon 38,623

1997 Model Year

Production run: Oct. 1996 through July 1997

Total number produced: n/a

Total no. sold in U.S.: Tahoe 117,513; Yukon 37,505

1998 Model Year

Production run: July 1997 through Dec. 1997

Total number produced: n/a

Total no. sold in U.S.: Tahoe 136,550; Yukon 46,548 (includes '99 models)

1999 Model Year

Production run: Jan. 1998 through Sept. 1999

Total number produced: n/a

Total no. sold in U.S.: Tahoe 132,035; Yukon 56,176 (not including trucks made in '98)

 

9. Awards and Commendations

1995

"Best Buy" - Consumers Digest

"One of Ten Top Trucks" - Consumer Review

"Best Value Award" - Home Mechanix

1996

"Best Buy" - Consumers Digest

"Design & Engineering Award" - Popular Mechanics

"All Star" - Automobile

"Best Value Utility" - IntelliChoice

"Driver's Choice Award - Best Family Sport Utility" - MotorWeek

"Total Value Award" - Strategic Vision

"Among top three in vehicle dependability -- Full-Size Sport Utility Vehicle" -- J.D. Power and Associates (2002 VDI study of 1998 model year vehicles)

1997

"Truck of the Year" - Motor Trend

"Best Buy" - Consumers Digest

"One of Ten Top Trucks" - Consumer Review

"Best Value Award" - Home Mechanix

"Best New Car Buy" - Smart Money

1998

"Among top three in vehicle dependability -- Full-Size Sport Utility Vehicle" -- J.D. Power and Associates (2002 VDI study of 1998 model year vehicles

1999

"Top VSS Score - Large Sport Utility" - Auto Pacific

 

10. Quotes

"These big SUVs are powerful, comfortable and off-road capable, and are comparatively good values, especially if when you consider how many smaller and lesser performing models can cost more money these days." - Consumers Digest, Jan. 1999

"On the open highway, the 4-door delivers a remarkably smooth ride, not quite up to sedan standards, but far from trucklike. Comfort is hardly affected by load; even a trailer (maximum weight 5500 lbs. for the gasoline-fueled versions, 7000 lbs. for turbodiesel) does little to disturb the occupants' comfort." – newcartestdrive.com, 1996

 

14. Cost of Parts (relative to other vehicles)

Headlight unit: $47 (below average)

Side marker lamp: $19 (below average)

Door (left front): $358 (below average)

Fender (left front): $149 (below average)

Note: these are estimated retail prices for commonly replaced body parts on a 1995 model. Prices are current as of early 1999 but will vary from region to region and are subject to change at any time. Source: ADP Collision

 

The Rettie Report and Pre-owned Profiles contain objective information from a variety of sources. The subjective comments are those of John Rettie.

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