The Chevy Tahoe is one of the most popular and mass-produced SUVs in America. And while flashes of soccer-moms and mall parking lots might come to mind when you envision fullsize people-movers like the Tahoe, we’re here to give you a new mental imagine of this classic SUV. One of the best parts about all mass-produced vehicles is that sooner or later they become relatively cheap. What was once a $40,000 mall-crawler can now be picked up for a few grand on the used market.
This got us thinking of what a Tahoe would be like with a mild lift and tires, and before we knew it we had snatched the keys to a used ’04 and were off to the shop.
Since the purpose of the SUV is to move people, we needed to keep the Tahoe a usable daily driver while increasing its capabilities off-road. After searching through catalogs and looking online we formed a sound game plan to make our cookie-cutter wagon stand out from the herd. For help we headed to the installation pros at 4Wheel Parts in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Using a 6-inch suspension kit from Skyjacker, a Superchips programmer, and tires and wheels from Nitto and ATX, we gathered a quality and affordable set of parts to give the Tahoe a new lease on life. Starting in the morning and wrenching until closing time, the 4Wheel Parts crew managed to have our ride lifted, aligned, and ready for the dirt in a day.
To find out what it took to transform our once plain Tahoe, read on.
So what’s the verdict on our mall-cruiser-turned-trail-crusher? Well, so far so good. The power around town and off-road is good, but we would prefer a numerically taller gear to help out at highway speeds. On the trail it’s a night-and-day difference. Though we won’t be taking the full-bodied Tahoe on any Ultimate Adventures, it does work great patrolling the hunting clubs and backwoods of the Carolina forest. Overall, the performance, ride, and look of the Tahoe are leagues better than before and well worth the facelift on this once commonplace SUV.
Since the Tahoe is sure to see a mix of mud, sand, and loose dirt, we went with a meaty 35x12.50 Nitto Tire Trail Grappler. This heavy-duty mud-terrain works great on the road and even better where the pavement ends. Mounting them on a set of lightweight and strong 18x9 ATK series AX186 wheels, we were able to get both the look and the performance we needed.