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With room for up to nine passengers, gutsy V8 engines and a well-sorted suspension, the Tahoe is one of the best full-size sport-utes on the market.
Strong engines, roomy interior, truck-like durability.
Spotty build quality, dated interior design.
Available Tahoe SUV Models
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All models get the previously optional Premium Ride suspension. LS Tahoes get six-way power driver and front passenger seats, along with foglights, heated outside mirrors, side-mounted assist steps and a programmable HomeLink transmitter for opening garage doors or automatic gates. The 5300 V8 is now capable of running gasoline/ethanol fuel blends.
Chevrolet calls its Tahoe a "real" sport-utility, implying that sport-utes are more about getting things done than doing them in style. With nearly every automaker offering an SUV these days, it takes a lot of effort to be unique. However, despite differing opinions of what does and does not constitute a good SUV, the 2002 Tahoe has a whole lot going for it.
Built on the same platform as GM's full-size trucks, the Tahoe inherits the strength and durability of its workhorse brethren. The most recent redesign gave the Tahoe new sheet metal with enhanced corrosion protection and stronger dent-resistant steel. GM engineers further enhanced Tahoe's sturdiness with redesigned door hinges that last four times as long, while a unique front-end crush cap allows easy replacement in the event of a slow-speed crash.
Under the hood, the 2002 Tahoe offers two powerful Vortec engines. The 4800 V8 is standard on the LS and offers 275 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque. Optional on the LS and standard on the LT is the 5300 V8 that ups the ante with 285 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. All that power runs through an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. Even with class-leading levels of power, these engines lead their competition in fuel economy and are compliant with low emission vehicle (LEV) standards. This year, Chevrolet is even offering a flexible fuel version of the 5300 V8 which allows it to burn gasoline/ethanol fuel blends that produce less harmful emissions.
The powertrain benefits from previous upgrades that include the addition of a more durable rear axle, a strengthened differential case and stiffer axle shafts. But Chevy didn't bump up its off-road durability at the expense of the highway drive. With a 400 percent increase in body-mount structure stiffness over its predecessor and a five-link rear suspension, the Tahoe provides a smooth, quiet and extremely stable ride on virtually all road surfaces.
Inside is an innovative 50/50 split third-row seat that provides superior cargo flexibility and the possibility to boost passenger capacity to nine. Those eight other people will be better protected because this Tahoe has a host of advanced safety features, including four-wheel ventilated disc antilock brakes, front-seat side-impact airbags, seat-mounted safety belts in the first- and third-row outboard positions, and energy-absorbing foam on the interior surfaces. The base model Tahoe LS has added additional standard options this year that make it even more comfortable and functional than before. Six-way power driver and front passenger seats are now the norm along with heated outside mirrors, foglights, side-mounted assist steps and a programmable HomeLink transmitter for opening garage doors or automatic gates.
Hardcore off-road enthusiasts can order the Z71 off-road package, which gives the sturdy Tahoe an even greater assortment of protective equipment. A specially tuned suspension with larger shocks and jounce bumpers are added along with underbody skid plates to shield vital components. A locking rear differential and aggressively treaded tires aid in the traction department, while a roof rack and special Z71 appearance badges give it a distinctive look. All Z71 Tahoes also come standard with the OnStar vehicle assistance system just in case you venture a little too far from civilization. This Tahoe is one tough truck that can still handle itself well about town. With a roomy and comfortable interior, it makes for a great weekend-getaway machine. If you want a sport-utility that can handle passengers and cargo as well as it does a backcountry road, the 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe should be on your short list.
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