What's New for 1998
Autotrac is a new optional automatic four-wheel-drive system that switches from 2WD to 4WD automatically as conditions warrant. A new option package includes heated seats and heated exterior mirrors. Second-generation airbags deploy with less force than last year. A theft-deterrent system is standard, and color selections are modified.
Compact sport-utility vehicles get most of the attention nowadays, but for folks with big families--or scads of goods to lug around--they're just not spacious enough inside. Chevrolet offers a solution to this problem with the Tahoe, based on the full-size C/K pickup platform but garageable in either two- or four-door body styles.
At a glance, the four-door Tahoe and larger Suburban look nearly identical, but a Tahoe measures 20 inches shorter. Beneath the hood sits a Vortec 5700 V8, rated for 255 horsepower. Two-door 4WD Tahoes with LS or LT trim can be equipped with a 6.5-liter turbodiesel V8 instead of the Vortec 5700.
From the driver's seat forward, Tahoes are virtually identical to Chevy's full-size pickups. Space is massive up front. Capable of towing as much as 7,000 pounds, four-door Tahoes seat either five or six passengers, and an underbody-mounted spare tire helps boost cargo space.
On the Interstate, the Tahoe rides nicely, but the wide body takes some getting used to if you're accustomed to compacts. Turning onto smaller roads, it suddenly feels more like a truck. Easy to control either way, this sizable machine is reasonably maneuverable, if driven with discretion. The V8 is strong, and the four-speed automatic transmission shifts neatly.
Think about the "entry assist" running boards if your regular riders aren't so nimble. They help. So do the robust grab bars that ease entry into the rear seats. Rear cargo doors are standard, but a lift glass version is available.
New for 1998 is an optional automatic four-wheel drive system that shifts between 2WD and 4WD as conditions warrant. No longer is it necessary to push a button on the dashboard o actively engage four-wheel traction. Also new is an option package that includes such goodies as heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, carpeted floor mats, an electrochromic rearview mirror with integrated compass and outside temperature readout, a rear cargo mat, a programmable Homelink transmitter, and 46mm Bilstein shocks. A theft deterrent system is standard on all Tahoe models, and three new colors are available.
Because Chevrolet targets customers with an income of $85,000 a year, luxury conveniences such as these are part of upscale Tahoe packages. The typical prospect is an upscale 40-year-old man who currently drives a Chevy Blazer and is attracted to a vehicle's size and power. Those attributes, the Tahoe has in abundance, as does its little-different GMC Yukon counterpart.
With the introduction of the Ford Expedition, Chevrolet loses its dominance of the full-size SUV market. Further complicating matters, the Tahoe is based on a decade-old platform, while the slightly larger, slightly less expensive Expedition is derived from all-new F-Series underpinnings. While the Expedition is certainly the better off-road vehicle, we feel the Tahoe delivers superior urban performance due to its lower ride height, more maneuverable size, and zippy Vortec V8. But drive both before making a final decision, unless you're a dyed-in-the-wool Chevy fan.