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2001 Chevy Tahoe Z71 - Playin' In The Dirt - Road Test

Posted in Features on September 1, 2001 Comment (0)
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2001 Chevy Tahoe Z71 - Playin' In The Dirt - Road Test
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Cevrolet's Z71 package has been around since the early '90s, originally placed on Chevy's fullsized pickup trucks, and later as an optional package on the '99 Tahoe. Although the Z71 package has varied with the model-year, typically it involves upgraded suspension, larger and beefier wheels and tires, exterior design cues, and special badging. For 2001, the Z71 package is available on Tahoe LS 4x4 models and consists of noticeable upgrades to a standard LS-model Tahoe.

The Tahoe Z71 Package uses shocks and jounce bumpers, exclusive to this package, combined with standard stabilizer bars, offering more off-road capability. In addition, a locking rear differential and aggressively treaded 265/70-R17 all-season tires wrapped around stylish cast-aluminum wheels provide maximum traction. A number of exterior design cues and features also set the Z71 Tahoe apart, including tube side steps, unique lower molding, and wheel flares with extensions. Color-keyed pieces include the grille, the bumpers, the door handles, and the mirrors. A luggage carrier includes lights and a roller to assist in loading and unloading, and a set of unique foglamps help to light up misty roads. Naturally, there's special Z71 badging to announce the Tahoe's diversity; the OnStar Safety and Security System is standard with this package.

The Chevy Tahoe was redesigned for the 2000 model-year, and the 2001 model is an extension of the concept that went into the changes. The overall Tahoe sport utility package is a rugged platform, offering excellent driveability and a number of creature comforts. The Tahoe's rigid body structure is provided by a modular frame and a host of structural improvements (over pre-2000 models) include larger body sections, stiffened joints, and a 400 percent increase in body mount stiffness.

For 2001, the Tahoe offers two Vortec powerplants, the 275hp 4800 (4.8L) V-8 and the 285hp Vortec 5300 (5.3L) V-8. Both engines are mated to the 4L60-E four-speed automatic transmission. Standard four-wheel antilock ventilated disc brakes are on call, and dynamic rear proportioning helps to optimize front-to-rear brake balance while reducing front brake wear under heavy trailering or hauling conditions.

On the inside, the Tahoe's available third-row bench seat creates seating for as many as nine passengers. The third-row seat features a 50/50 split-fold design to provide a variety of cargo and passenger-carrying configurations. For even more cargo room, the seats may be flipped forward and stowed. The seats can also be easily removed to provide a flat load surface. Additional interior features include a Driver Message Center, a HomeLink transmitter, and a power sliding sunroof. The Tahoe's cup holders are now placed at the front of the seat on the 40/20/40 split bench. Exterior styling cues and features include daytime running lamps, a choice of liftgate or panel rear doors, deep-tinted glass, recovery hooks, and two new exterior colors: Forest Green metallic (as in the case of our tester) and Redfire metallic.

As usual, we never report on these vehicles without taking them for a lengthy testdrive, and the Tahoe Z71 was no exception. During a week's stint behind the wheel, we found the Chevy to be a cut above the standard-issue Tahoe. With its color-keyed exterior, additional stylish body pieces, larger and upgraded wheels and tires, and enhanced suspension, the Z71 package gives the Tahoe a unique flair and dirt-ready prowess. We did have a few opportunities to take the Chevy off-road and can honestly report that it is fully capable of hitting the wilderness and tackling the elements. In addition, the Tahoe is chock-full of creature amenities that make it a very comfortable riding experience on- and off-road. The Z71 package, both for the Tahoe and for Chevy fullsize pickup trucks, has been changed and refined over the years, but we think this current package is one of the cleanest and most functional yet. The Z71 package increases the Tahoe's price to $37,416, which is $3,395 more than the cost of a Tahoe LS 4WD. For that relatively low extra cost, the Z71 package should certainly be considered.

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