Used 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe Review

Edmunds expert review

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.

What's new for 2002

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.

Vehicle overview

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.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.