The Chevy Tahoe, North America's best-selling full-size SUV, is the right size for a lot of SUV buyers. It can haul more cargo than a Chevy TrailBlazer or Ford Explorer yet it's easier to manuever than a Chevy Suburban, important in crowded parking lots, underground garages, or when parallel parking, plus it'll fit in more garages.
Tahoe can carry five passengers and their gear at the same time. Third-row seats are available to increase its capacity to seven passengers, or up to nine if you order bench seats throughout. Pulling a trailer is no problem when equipped with the optional 5.3-liter V8.
On the road, Tahoe is smooth and stable. It really is like a rock. It has plenty of power and its brakes work well.The cabin is comfortable and familiar, friendly and functional.Turn off the highway and the Tahoe handles gravel, rugged two-tracks, mud, and snow. In any kind of driving, it's a good choice for someone who needs real carrying capacity.
Audio systems with touch-screen navigation are now available. XM Satellite Radio delivers music, radio, sports, and other programming coast to coast. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system with wireless headphones keeps the kids busy.
Safety features include Hydroboost brakes, which maintain power assist even if the engine stalls or is turned off. A tire-pressure monitor comes standard and has been improved for 2005. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Dynamic Brake Proportioning come standard. StabiliTrak electronic stability control and traction control are available as options. Dual frontal air bags are standard; front side-impact air bags are optional. LATCH child safety-seat anchors are provided.
Improvements for 2005 include a quieter, higher-capacity electric cooling fan; a higher-capacity alternator; and aerodynamic enhancements that promise slightly improved fuel economy on some models. Generation 6 OnStar with better hands-free capability is now standard on all Tahoes. And the tire monitor now tells you not only that a tire is low on air, it tells you which tire.
Chevy Tahoe comes in LS and LT trim with a choice of two V8 engines with rear-wheel-drive (2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD). A Z71 off-road package is available with 2WD or 4WD. All Tahoes come with a four-speed automatic transmission.
The standard engine is a 4.8-liter V8 called the Vortec 4800. The larger, 5.3-liter Vortec 5300 is optional on LS, standard with LT and Z71. The Vortec 5300 is rated 295 horsepower, 10 more than the Vortec 4800. More important is the difference in torque: The 4800 develops 295 pound-feet of torque vs. 330 pound-feet for the 5300, both at 4000 rpm. Torque is the force that propels you away from intersections and it is especially important for towing or hauling weighty stuff, like people.
Tahoe LS ($34,750) comes standard with a 40/20/40 split bench front seat with six-way power for the driver, a 60/40 split folding middle bench seat, fog lamps, assist steps, heated power outside mirrors, tri-zone manual climate control, OnStar, and a rear window defogger. Aluminum wheels come standard, with P265/70R16 all-season tires. Tahoe LS is available with 4WD ($37,550). The 5.3-liter V8 is optional ($800).
A Preferred Equipment Group ($1,835) adds bucket seats with upgraded cloth upholstery, a floor console, a Bose nine-speaker audio system with rear controls and headphone jacks and, on 4WD models, a 3.73:1 axle ratio (which improves acceleration and towing at the expense of fuel economy, relative to the standard 3.23:1 ratio).
The LT Group ($6,770) adds the 5.3-liter Vortec 5300 V8; 17-inch aluminum wheels; leather seating surfaces; six-way power front bucket seats with heat and memory; floor console; power adjustable pedals; a third-row, 50/50 split bench seat; tri-zone automatic climate control; the Bose sound system plus XM satellite radio: steering-wheel-mounted audio and driver-information controls; power heated outside mirrors with turn signals and ground illumination: a Homelink universal transmitter for opening your garage door; a trailer hitch platform and seven-lead wiring connector; external transmission oil cooler; various cargo-compartment accessories.
Z71 ($5,315) is a premium off-road package available this year on 2WD as well as 4WD models that also includes the 5.3-liter V8. Z71 includes an off-road suspension with gas shocks and off-road jounce bumpers; heavy-duty locking rear differential; 3.73 rear axle ratio; skid plates for the oil pan, differentials, and transfer case; high-capacity air cleaner; removable front air dam; tubular assist steps; painted front bumper; panted rear step bumper with pad; color-keyed grille and door handles; round fog lamps; roof rack with cross rails; dark gray lower rocker moldings; wheel flares; trailer package; and P265/70R17 on/off-road tires on 17-inch cast and machined aluminum wheels. Z71 also includes many of the same comfort and convenience items as the LT: the Driver Information Center; Bose nine-speaker stereo with rear audio controls, dual headphone jacks, and steering-wheel controls; power heated mirrors with turn signals and ground illumination; leather seating surfaces; power adjustable pedals; and six-way power front bucket seats.
Chevy Tahoe is an attractive truck, though it doesn't stand out with its conservative and familiar styling. It is essentially a shortened version of the Chevy Suburban and shares much in common with it.
The Tahoe is the same width as the Suburban, but it is more than 22 inches shorter than the Suburban and nearly 9 inches shorter than the Ford Expedition. The Tahoe is also nearly 11 inches shorter than the stretched, midsize Chevy TrailBlazer EXT (and only about 5 inches longer than the standard TrailBlazer). But the Tahoe is more than 4 inches wider than the TrailBlazer EXT, an important benefit.
Tahoe comes with big outside mirrors that afford an excellent view rearward. The mirrors on LT and Z71 models feature puddle lamps that light up the perimeter. These are nice at night in the woods, or when stepping out on nasty nights in your city best, and they provide some security in underground garages and other spooky places. The mirrors also tilt down when you shift into reverse. Press a button and they fold in for parking in narrow places. Heating elements keep off frost and ice. Turn signals are integrated into the mirrors to warn drivers alongside of your intentions. The left mirror automatically dims to reduce headlamp glare. If that isn't enough, these wonder-mirrors remember his and hers adjustments, just like the seats.
The Tahoe's door handles are well-designed and easy to use; you do not need to flip your hand over to pull on them.
For 2005, all Tahoes come with a lift-up rear hatch (the split-panel barn doors are no longer available). The hatch is made of aluminum for light weight. The hatch features a flip-up window, and being able to open just the glass is often more convenient when loading groceries or outdoor gear, especially since it can be operated with the keyless remote. The rear hatch offers a good view out back.
There's plenty of headroom and legroom in the Tahoe. The front seats are big, wide, and fully adjustable in the LT. Optional seat heaters are easy to turn on and adjust. Switchgear is nicely designed and easy to operate. The map lights can be aimed. Rubber-lined cubbies on the center console offer places to organize odds and ends. The ashtray can be removed to reveal another nice cubby for sunglasses and stuff. Cup holders are well designed. Double visors with extenders keep the sun out of your eyes. Three power outlets in front and one in back deliver electricity for accessories.
Visibility is very good through big windows, but we'd like the option of an electronic park-assist feature to help maneuver this big rig in tight quarters. We appreciated the available power-adjustable pedals. Pressing a button moves the brake and accelerator pedals for an optimum driving position. This allows a shorter driver to move farther from the steering wheel (where the airbag is located). The tilt steering could use finer adjustments, but by adjusting the height and tilt of the seat it's possible for drivers of all sizes to find a comfortable position. Steering wheel-mounted controls add convenience and enable the driver to personalize functions.
We love the LT's electronically controlled, automatic three-zone HVAC system for its sophistication and ease of use. Change the driver's temperature, for example, and a panel displays the new temperature for a few moments, then display's the passenger's temperature, then displays the driver's temperature again. It's easy to operate the controls with the big knobs and a clear LED display that's easy to understand. Separate electronic controls for the rear seating area improve comfort for second- and third-row passengers and pets.
The standard LS setup is a manually controlled HVAC system with three zones that allows temperature differentials of 30 degrees between driver and passenger. It works quite well. The third zone allows manual control of the rear air conditioning. The optional Driver Information Center warns you when ice may be on the road.
Second-row seating in the Tahoe is very comfortable. Second-row bucket seats ($490), an option on the LT, are less versatile than a bench seat, but more comfortable, more luxurious. We prefer the buckets. A pair of map lights flanks each dome light in the second and third row, a great feature when traveling or accessing gear.
The Tahoe provides slightly more cargo space behind the second row than the Ford Expedition does (63.6 cubic feet vs. 60.9 cubic feet). Folding the second-row seats down provides enormous cargo capacity, 104.6 cubic feet of cargo space, a bit less than the Expedition's 110.5 cubic feet. Folding the second row down is easy. The headrests stay in place, which is convenient and safer because you can't forget to put them back on.
The Tahoe is comfortable with four or five passengers, but it can seat seven (and up to nine) with its optional third-row seat. However, getting in and out of the third row isn't easy, and once back there, it's uncomfortable for an adult. The seat height is low relative to your feet, sort of like sitting on the floor. So if you think you'll be using that third row on a daily basis, then step over to the other side of the showroom and take a look at the Suburban. The Suburban is more practical than the Tahoe for carrying six to nine people regularly. The Tahoe offers just 16.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. That's about the size of the trunk of a mid-size sedan, but it's less than even the Expedition's 20.7 cubic feet and far less than the Suburban's 45.7 cubic feet.
However, for occasional use, the optional third-row seats are well-designed for flexibility. They can be quickly folded and flipped out of the way, and they are easy to remove: Just fold down, flip up, grab the release handle, and roll the
The Chevrolet Tahoe rides smoothly on the open road, and it's stable and comfortable at high speeds. Although big and ponderous, the Tahoe handles well for a full-size truck.
Tahoe is built on GM's full-size truck platform (GMT 800, if you must know), which forms the basis for the Silverado and Sierra pickups as well as the Suburban, Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs, and the Cadillac Escalade. It's a superb truck platform, notable for the rigidity of its hydroformed frame. Chassis rigidity is the key to achieving good handling and a smooth ride, and the Tahoe delivers on both of those scores. It handles bumpy roads well, a good test of chassis rigidity.
Tahoe's front suspension is conventional in design, except for the springs. To save space, the Tahoe uses torsion bars instead of coil springs. Tahoe now comes standard with the Premium Smooth Ride suspension, which uses self-leveling rear shocks to maintain trim height for better handling when hauling heavy cargo or pulling a trailer.
Our Tahoe LT had the optional Autoride suspension ($1,120), which electronically controls rear air shocks to provide real-time adjustments in suspension damping. It provided a comfortable ride on I-405, a bumpy, busy freeway in Los Angeles. Autoride also kept the Tahoe from bounding around after pulling a trailer over railroad tracks.
The available Z71 package, with its off-road suspension, provides a good ride quality on gravel and washboard surfaces. We prefer it when driving on gravel roads and two-tracks.
We were impressed with the Tahoe's braking ability while towing a horse trailer. Tahoe's braking system uses four-wheel discs with dual-piston calipers for good stopping performance. A dynamic proportioning system continuously balances the front and rear brakes for maximum effectiveness without activating the ABS. Once activated, the ABS allows the driver to maintain control of the steering in an emergency maneuver. Additionally, Tahoe's Hydroboost system uses pressurized oil (power steering fluid, actually) rather than the usual engine vacuum to reduce braking effort. That means more reserve power for braking under specific conditions. Hydroboost will even provide sufficient power assist to stop the vehicle if the engine stalls or is turned off.
The Tahoe is relatively easy to park, and much easier than the Suburban. It's 22 inches shorter than a Suburban, and its 38.3-foot turning diameter is 4 feet tighter than the Suburban's. With its shorter wheelbase, shorter rear overhang and equal ground clearance, the Tahoe traverses gullies and other rugged terrain where the Suburban scrapes bottom. Likewise, the Tahoe is shorter and more maneuverable than the Ford Expedition. Even though the Tahoe is a fraction of an inch wider than the Expedition, I find it easier to judge the distance between the Tahoe's right front corner and a tree, making Tahoe easier to manage off-road. The Tahoe's recirculating-ball steering provides good control and feedback, even if it falls short of the rack-and-pinion steering found on the Ford Expedition and Explorer. Tahoe's power steering system is designed for durability by operating at a lower temperature range.
Chevy's small-block, overhead-valve V8s are excellent. They rival Ford's overhead-cam engines for smoothness and efficiency, and deliver strong torque for towing. The standard 4.8-liter V8 cranks out 285 horsepower, while delivering decent fuel economy; a Tahoe 2WD with the Vortec 4800 earns 18 mpg on the EPA's highway mileage test.
A better choice, and the one most people choose, is the 5.3-liter engine rated at 295 horsepower. It delivers strong acceleration performance and burns regular unleaded fuel. A 2005 Tahoe 4WD with the Vortec 5300 earns an EPA-estimated 13/17 mpg city/highway.
If serious off-road driving is your aim, you should know that the Tahoe does not offer the capability of a Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota Land Cruis
Chevrolet Tahoe is perfect for drivers who want a full-size sport-utility, but don't want to herd a Suburban every day. New features introduced in the last three model years make living with the Tahoe more convenient. Numerous engineering changes make it safer and more reliable. For many people, it's the ideal SUV.
|Model Line Overview|
|Base Price (MSRP)|
|Chevrolet Tahoe 2WD ($34,750); 4WD ($37,550)|
|285-hp 4.8 liter ohv V8; 295-hp 5.3 liter ohv V8|
|Safety equipment (Standard):|
|dual front air bags, four-wheel ABS with Dynamic Brake Proportioning, tire-pressure monitor, LATCH child-seat anchors|
|Safety equipment (Optional):|
|front side-impact air bags, traction control, stability control|
|3 years/36,000 miles|
|Janesville, Wisconsin; Arlington, Texas|
|Specifications As Tested|
|Model tested (MSRP):|
|Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD ($37,550)|
|tri-zone manual conditioning with auxiliary rear heat; programmable power door locks; AM/FM/CD/cassette; Gen 6 OnStar; keyless entry system; cruise control; leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel; power windows; electric rear window defroster; liftgate with separate lifting window and wiper/washer; roof-mounted carrier rails; heated power mirrors; fog lamps; automatic headlamps; assist steps; underbody-mounted full-size spare tire; Autotrac 4WD transfer case; automatic transmission with Tow/Haul mode; load-leveling shock absorbers; 265/70R16-inch all-season tires and aluminum wheels|
|Options as tested:|
|LT Preferred Equipment Group 1SM ($6,770) includes leather seating surfaces, electronic climate control, nine-speaker AM/FM/CD Bose audio with rear controls and headphone jacks, XM Satellite Radio, steering-wheel mounted audio and driver-information controls, Homelink transmitter, power folding outside mirrors with turn signals and ground illumination, six-way power heated bucket seats with driver memory, power adjustable pedals, third-row seating, cargo shade, cargo net, cargo mat, center rails for luggage rack, 3.73:1 axle ratio, trailering package with transmission cooler, P265/70 white-outline tires on 17-inch aluminum wheels; Rear Seat Entertainment ($1,295); Safe and Secure Package ($1,220) includes front side-impact airbags, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, Autoride suspension; second-row bucket seats ($490)|
|Gas Guzzler Tax:|
|Price as tested (MSRP)|
|5.3-liter ohv V8|
|Horsepower (hp @ rpm):|
|295 @ 5200|
|Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm):|
|330 @ 4000|
|EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:|
|Head/hip/leg room, f:|
|Head/hip/leg room, m:|
|Head/hip/leg room, r:|
|104.6 cu. ft.|
|independent, upper and lower control arms, torsion bars, anti-roll bar|
|live axle, upper and lower trailing links, transverse Panhard link, coil springs|
|disc/disc w/ABS and Dynamic Rear Proportioning in.|