Magazine article Law & Order

An Evaluation of the Tahoe

Magazine article Law & Order

An Evaluation of the Tahoe

Article excerpt

I finally had a chance to spend some serious time behind the wheel of Chevy's new Tahoe Police Package vehicle. The few demonstrator units available were popular at exhibitions and large department evaluations but finally Chevrolet provided a brand new unit and gave us a week to look it over. To say the least, it's a different world.

While the regular Tahoe is a pretty sturdy creature, Chevrolet's "Cop Shop" engineers added a few things to make it even more "cop-like." Engine, transmission and power steering oils each have their own cooler. The engine oil cooler is located in the left hand radiator tank where it is cooled by engine coolant flow. The transmission uses the radiators right hand tank as a cooler, but the police package adds a second in-line, air-to-oil cooler mounted in front of the radiator. The power steering cooler is an air-to-oil unit mounted in front of the radiator in the line between the power steering pump and the steering gear for cooling maximum efficiency.

The Tahoe starts with an MSRP of $29,700. With the options on our Tahoe the sticker read $30,975. That's a lot of money for one vehicle, about one and a half Crown Victorias. Is Tahoe worth it? Our answer has to be; yes and no.

We're not being evasive, just trying to be objective. Let's begin with the basics. The Tahoe is based on a truck chassis. It's the same as used by Chevrolet and GMC pickups. Before they became trendy, trucks like the Tahoe's predecessor the Blazer and the "S-K" series pickups were designed to work and essentially be abused. That means they're sturdy, even by police standards.

The Caprice was designed to live through 100,000 miles of police work. And it generally made it there and further. There's no reason to think the Tahoe won't live just as long and probably longer.

What's underneath is very important and the Tahoe's chassis and suspension are heavy-duty from the start. Even twowheel-drive sport utility vehicles are expected to be able to handle some off-road driving. Curb jumping, sidewalk hopping, median crossing, ditch leaping and other "police olympic" maneuvers shouldn't be a problem for the Tahoe.

But drivers shouldn't think the Police Package is an offroad vehicle, it's definitely not. While it has a little more ground clearance than a Caprice or Crown Victoria (.5 inches in the Caprice and .7 inches for the Crown Vic) the Police Tahoe has less ground clearance than a standard Tahoe. It's not that hard to get "high-centered" in the Tahoe, so care should be taken when the rubber leaves the road.

Driving the Tahoe is a new experience, even for experienced SUV drivers. Entering is higher and the seating position is more erect than regular cars. The steering wheel, shift lever, instruments, radio etc. are familiar, though a little further apart. While the Tahoe's interior measurements are virtually duplicates of the Caprice, there's more room.

There is more headroom, but there's also a different feel to the seats. You're sitting more erect, with your legs going more downward than forward as in a patrol car. The view from the windshield is much improved; as you sit much higher you get a wider view and you can see over the car ahead, assuming it's not another SUV or van.

Underway, the Tahoe seems quieter than the Caprice. Engine noise is more remote and road noise, even with rubber floor mats, is soft. The ride is Capricelike too. It's firm, but solid.

But there's a difference. Bumps seem more abrupt. It's difficult to explain but the ride is the same but different. I finally realized the difference, the suspension travel is greater in the Tahoe. When you hit a bump the vehicle, and you, travel further before the suspension catches you. Where your body would travel maybe four inches through a bounce in the Caprice, it travels eight or 10 inches in the Tahoe. Along with that, the Tahoe's higher center of gravity is more noticeable when the speed increases. …

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