Chevrolet Tahoe 4-door wagon comes between Blazer, Suburban
Date Posted: 5/10/2005
At high altitude with snow lining shoulders of an unpaved Arizona back road, Chevrolet's new full-size 4-door sport-utility wagon powered across foothills west of Jerome.
The big machine, with a mighty V8 tucked beneath the hood and broad bucket seats covered in soft leather reserved for driver and front passenger, seemed oblivious to the thin air, cold climate and dusty route.
In its spacious cabin, as soothing instrumental music seeped from an audio cassette deck, riders experienced no discomfort despite our outback position in a realm of harsh winter temperatures, steeply pitched grades and starkly arid yet quite beautiful mountain landscapes.
Set with comforts and conveniences of the best luxury sedan aboard, we could well have been scooting off to the country club instead of tackling Arizona's high country.
Judging from the amount of room remaining in back seat and rear cargo bay, we could also have been hauled with us several more friends and a week's worth of camping gear.
Tahoe, it seems, can be more than just a heavy hauling SUV: It's a prime luxury vehicle too.
But that's the dual mission of Chevrolet's new wagon that slips between compact Blazer, revamped earlier this year, and kingsize Suburban which can carry nine people.
In case the Tahoe name doesn't ring a bell, understand it's as new as is the 4-door rendition of this former full-size 2-door Blazer. Chevy's former S-10 Blazer, riding on the S-10 compact pickup truck's frame, retains the Blazer name, while Tahoe, built upon a full-size Chevy C-K pickup platform, now has 2-door and 4-door options in a dramatic new design emerging at midyear 1995.
Drive Tahoe over rough terrain as I did last winter in pre-production models, and its cushy comforts will impress.
So will Tahoe's road manners.
The 4-door Tahoe starts with a rectangular ladder-type chassis design with welded crossbars and a boxed front end. Chevy's engineers chose to develop a special framework unique to Tahoe, rather than borrow and chop Suburban's chassis or extend that of the Tahoe 2-door.
This rigid platform supports the fully-independent front suspension and a rear system with strong semi-eliptical multi-leaf spring. A big 36 mm shock absorber appears at each wheel, and the rear axle, designed for towing a heavy load, uses a semi-floating design.
Add variable-ratio power steering and power brakes connected to a 4-wheel anti-lock system and Tahoe sets the scene for serious maneuvering, off-road or on.
Then there's that big V8 under the hood.
Chevy's 5.7-liter iron-block design, producing 200 hp, provides all the muscle you need, such as for towing a big load. When outfitted with Tahoe's optional towing package, the wagon can pull a boat or trailer rig weighing as much as 7,000 pounds.
The engine's electronic powertrain control module regulates fuel injection, with micro-adjustments of the mixture of air and fuel 80 times every second. This means instantaneous compensation for stressful effects such as altitude, like my test Tahoe endured in Arizona, as well as load. The result: Continual, dependable power flow.
A single transmission, GM's ultra-smooth electronic automatic 4-speed system, connects with the V8.
Tahoe's 2-door variation -- the original configuration for this wagon -- adds powertrain options, beginning with a manual 5-speed transmission for the V8.
Also, the 2-door has a turbo-diesel engine variation in the form of a 6.5-liter V8 with 180 hp output. It mates exclusively with a heavy-duty automatic 4-speed shifter.
Other differences for the 2-door Tahoe concern the shorter wheelbase -- trimming 6.0 inches from the 4-door's chassis -- and an overall length pared by 10.6 inches.
Further, the 2-door stocks a 4-wheel-drive system exclusively, while the new 4-door provides both traditional rear-wheel-drive and the optional 4x4.
My tests of the 2-door Tahoe, at Wisconsin's Road America raceway, covered a brutal off-pavement route.
The course contained steep grades on loose dirt, rough rocky stretches and deep pits of black Wisconsin mud.
Through these obstacles, Tahoe, with its 4-wheel-drive traction and Chevy's Insta-Trac shift-on-the-fly system, attacked each section with a gutsy attitude. Inside, meanwhile, I felt insulated from the tough stuff due to this wagon's tilt toward luxury.
My Wisconsin tests utilized a Tahoe LT, the ultimate 2-door trim level with leather seating plus comforts of an exclusive passenger sedan. Still, an entry-level base model is available, along with the mid-level trim, Tahoe LS.
For the 4-door edition, trim choices of LS and LT signify that this wagon starts out with all the expected comforts, then heaps on extra luxury items.
Tahoe LS stocks front bucket seats covered in soft cloth, a center console which converts to a desktop work station with pivoting writing surface and storage spaces, rear heating ducts and a handy security shade that stretches across the rear space to secrete cargo from prying eyes.
I was impressed with the thoughtful placement of storage niches throughout Tahoe's cabin -- map pockets up front, a handy rack to stow audio cassette tapes, removable coin holder in the console, cup holders even for rear seat riders, plus a latched rear storage drawer and small hidden bays aft of rear wheelwells. These spaces help you organize everyday clutter and keep everything in place to eliminate a messy cabin.
As an added convenience, Tahoe's rear door system may be configured with dual swing-out panel doors or a fold-down tailgate with flip-up glass window. Pick either version, depending on rear-door access requirements.
Also, the spare tire stows below deck to increase storage space within Tahoe's cabin.
For safety, a variety of new systems appear, including 4-wheel ABS and a driver's-side airbag. Tahoe's steering column adjusts now, and the horn may be sounded by depressing any point on the wheel's center pad.
Overall, I found Tahoe easy to drive and certainly comfortable for extended touring. It's rugged, powerful and big, but expansive window glass, a sloping hoodline and thoughtful features make Tahoe entirely friendly to use.
1995 CHEVROLET TAHOE
| Vehicle Specifications:
| 1995 CHEVROLET TAHOE Specs
||Full-size utility wagon
| Model Options:
||Full-size utility wagon
||2-door: 111.5 inches, 4-door: 117.5 inches
| Overall Length:
||2-door: 188.5 inches , 4-door: 199.1 inches
| Engine Size:
||2-door: OHV 5.7-L V8 , OHV 6.5-L V8 TD, 4-door: OHV 5.7-L V8
||2-door 5.7: Manual/5, Auto/4, 2-door 6.5: Auto/4, 4-door 5.7: Auto/4
||2-door: 4x4, 4-door: 4x2, 4x4
||$ 22,000 to $ 28,000