2004 Tahoe New Car Test Drive
The Chevrolet Tahoe is America's best-selling full-size SUV. One of the reasons is that it seems to be exactly the right size SUV for a lot of Americans. It's big enough to haul busloads of people and boatloads of cargo, yet it's more manageable than the super-size Suburban.
Tahoe carries more cargo than a compact or mid-size SUV such as the Chevy TrailBlazer or Ford Explorer. It can carry five passengers and their gear at the same time. Third-row seats are available to increase the capacity to seven passengers, or up to nine when equipped with bench seats throughout. The Tahoe makes for a stable towing platform and pulling a trailer is no problem with the optional 5.3-liter V8. Yet the Tahoe is far more maneuverable than a Suburban, important in crowded parking lots, underground garages, or when parallel parking, and it will fit into more garages.
On the road, the Tahoe is smooth and stable, a rock. It has plenty of power and its brakes work well. The cabin is comfortable and familiar, friendly and functional, particularly after improvements that were made for 2003. Turn off the highway and the Tahoe handles gravel, rugged two-tracks, mud, and snow. In any kind of driving, it's a great choice for someone who needs real carrying capacity.
Improvements to the Tahoe for 2004 further enhance its safety. New Hydroboost brakes provide power assist even if the engine stalls or is turned off. A tire-pressure monitor is now standard. New options include electronic traction control and 17-inch all-weather tires. A major upgrade was made to the Tahoe for 2003 for increased safety and reliability: GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability program became available for improved control on slippery surfaces. New airbag systems were designed to better protect children and adults of various sizes. Adjustable pedals became available, enhancing comfort and safety for drivers of smaller stature. The brakes were improved.
Tahoe dazzles its passengers with entertainment possibilities. XM Satellite Radio delivers CD-quality music, radio, sports, and other programming coast to coast. A rear DVD entertainment system with wireless headphones keeps the kids busy.
Chevy Tahoe is available in LS and LT trim, plus there's a Z71 off-road package. Two V8 engines are available, the Vortec 4800 and the Vortec 5300. Two- and four-wheel drive are available. All models come with a four-speed automatic transmission.
The Vortec 5300 is rated 295 horsepower, which is 10 more than the Vortec 4800. More important is the difference in torque: The 4800 develops 295 pounds-feet of torque, vs. 330 pounds-feet for the 5300, both at 4000 rpm. Torque is that force that propels you away from intersections and it is especially important for towing or hauling weighty stuff, like people.
Tahoe LS ($34,200) comes standard with the 4.8-liter V8, 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, and a rear window defogger. Tahoe LS is available with 4WD ($37,000). The 5.3-liter V8 is optional ($700). The Preferred Equipment Group ($1735) 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.
Tahoe LT ($6,450) is a package that adds the 5.3-liter engine, leather seating surfaces, six-way power front bucket seats with heat and memory, floor console, 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, OnStar, a Homelink universal transmitter for opening your garage door, a trailer hitch platform, seven-lead wiring connector, and external transmission oil cooler, various cargo-compartment accessories, and more.
Z71 ($5,215) is a premium package specially equipped for off-highway driving and is only available for 4WD models with the Vortec 5300 engine. 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 with heavy-duty hitch platform, seven-lead wiring connector and external transmission oil cooler; 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; OnStar; leather seating surfaces; power front bucket seats with heat and memory; adjustable head restraints; and an inboard armrest.