Behind the Wheel
It doesn't take much time behind the wheel before the Tahoe's size becomes a non-issue. Its length is actually shorter than that of quite a few minivans. The V-8 engine's exhaust burbles pleasantly at idle, and serenity prevails inside the vehicle while cruising. One of the Tahoe's primary missions is to insulate the driver and passengers from all harshness, so the natural consequence is that this isn't the most highly involving driving experience. In some ways, the Tahoe is the spiritual heir of the "land yachts"--large sedans and wagons--that were so harshly criticized and even reviled during the 1970s and early 1980s. The steering system is highly boosted and isolated, creating a numb connection with the driver. The on-road isolation is made up for by off-pavement ability, as the Tahoe is right at home bouncing over rough terrain. The suspension and loose steering make easy work of harsh conditions, and the truck can be outfitted with the exceptional Z71 package to better tackle dirt-bound adventures. Smoothly conducted gear changes in the automatic transmission are registered only by the change in engine note. With long pedal travel and sponge-like feel, braking doesn't provide the sensation of bite and modulation that is typical of the more impressive entries in the large SUV field. Directional stability on the highway is great, however, even when towing. The Tahoe faces the challenge of balancing serious workhorse ability and family-minded creature comforts in a vehicle that will most likely serve an as oversized station wagon. Without question, the Tahoe offers all the essential mechanical components, but in most configurations, the resulting package feels soft and less precise than most competitors, ultimately making it seem dated.
For buyers seeking a full-size SUV as a personality statement, the Tahoe is the wrong choice. It just wants to go about its business, which is to effortlessly haul the family boat and lots of kids to the lake or to tow the snowmobiles or ATVs to the trails. The current wave of rebates and low financing rates are persuasive, as is the vehicle's solid value history. For GM-loyal buyers who can wait, it might be worth holding out for the next-generation Tahoe, expected to reach showrooms in the first half of 2006.
The Chevrolet Tahoe offers room, power, and toughness to those who will exploit its talents.