1999 Chevrolet Z71 Tahoe LT

1999 Chevrolet Z71 Tahoe LT

Tahoe… The name conjures up a warm and friendly feeling that brings forth the thought of the Lone Ranger and Tonto blazing new trails. Z71 however, brings to mind a more progressive thought of strength and commanding, at least it does for me.

It’s also a bit tough being the flagship for any particular fleet of vehicles, especially in the Sport Utility domain. When a vehicle manufacturer makes a rig that is both capable and comfortable, it comes under what I like to call the “fishbowl” syndrome. Our Chevrolet Tahoe LT with the Z71 Off Road package definitely falls under my measurements of a flagship. Our Tahoe came loaded with every possible accessory and is simply a work of art.

The LT version of the Tahoe is similar in nature and design to the LS version but comes with custom leather seating surfaces and ETR AM/FM stereo with CD and cassette player. But, don’t let the nice paint, leather, comfortable ride and all but perfect fit and finish fool you. This full-size sport utility can hang with the best of them in it’s on and off-road capabilities. With a ladder-type 1999 Chevrolet Z71 Tahoe LT truck frame, more standard engine power than any other SUV in its class and low gearing makes this rig very capable and comfortable in all but the worst terrains.

On the road, you get a feeling of commanding traffic with its full size and ample power. Passing power at both 30 and 50 m.p.h. will push you back in the seat and get around other vehicles very quickly. Additionally, with a respectable 0 to 60 in 10.85 seconds and braking from 60 to 0 3.15 seconds, there is a great feeling of security. Additionally, the new 255 horsepower Vortec 5700 V8 has a new more durable and powerful starter and a new, more efficient zinc treated, aluminum radiator. The mill also puts out some 330 lb.-ft. of torque at 2800 rpm’s.

1999 Chevrolet Z71 Tahoe LTTransmission
The 4L60-E 4-Speed automatic transmission sports new seals and internal components that are designed to reduce friction and provide a longer life expectancy. It also has a deep transmission oil pan and an electronically controlled converter clutch that allows for gradual engagement of the torque converter for smoother driveability and increased fuel economy. Even with the enhanced, computer controlled slush box we found no problems with it “hunting” for gears in a myriad of on and off road situations. The tranny also has some other unique features such as Electronic Line Pressure Scheduling Software that adjusts pressure to the clutches base upon torque output of the engine for smoother, more consistent shifts. A second-gear start feature allows the vehicle to start off in second gear for slippery situations and they’ve even added long-life transmission fluid that is intended to last some 100,000 miles.


Off the beaten path, the Z71 off road suspension package really shines. Even though the more “hard-core” off-roaders would like a solid front axle, the SLA (Short-Long Arm) Independant Front Suspension does well and provides a bit more travel and stability than it’s previous version.

1999 Chevrolet Z71 Tahoe LTThe Autotrac system is equally impressive. This computer-controlled system, if selected from the dash, is capable of engaging four-wheel drive automatically. This is NOT an all-wheel drive system, but more accurately named as a “standby” four-wheel drive system. If extra traction is needed, an electronic control module activates an electronic motor to transfer the torque between the front and rear wheels, all done within a fraction of a second. Further, if the computer senses multiple instances of slippage, it will automatically lock the system into four-wheel drive until better traction is reached and then transfer the system back into two-wheel drive.

The standard 2 front recovery hooks are placed well and allow for the largest of straps, although the large P265/75R-15 tires grip well in most conditions and the hooks shouldn’t be needed.

We found that the Tahoe performed admirably off-road and did well in a variety of difficult situations including hi-speed washboard road driving, steep and loose inclines and climbing obstacles such as large rocks.


Interior fit and finish rated nearly a perfect ten. Its spacious interior allows for the largest of people and provides more than ample leg, hip, shoulder and head room. Rear-seat heat ducts (See photo) keep the rear passengers just as comfortable as the front. Standard illuminated entry feature keeps the dome light on for 20 seconds (40 seconds for vehicles equipped with Remote Keyless Entry system) and turns on when the vehicle is unlocked with the remote keyless entry system. Two standard 12-volt auxiliary “cigarette” plugs are handy, along with the self-dimming inside rearview mirror. The mirror self-dims when headlight from behind, at nighttime shine on it. Another nice feature of the mirror is the 8-point electronic compass and outside temperature display.

Nearly 100 cubic feet of cargo room allows for gobs of storage. Additionally, the cargo area of the Tahoe provides 4 tie down points for securing your goodies.


All in all, we were extremely impressed with the ’99 Tahoe and were really sorry to see it go.



NOTE: All ratings on a scale of 1 to 4 with flat tires equal to a half.
Description Notes Rating
Performance Performance both on and off road was good.
Durability The vehicle seemed well designed to precise specifications and was tight. I had the sense that everything was durable and large.
Appearance Chevrolet has never been the most progressive auto manufacturer, but the Tahoe has a nice look to it without going “overboard” with strange looks.
Drivability Very comfortable rig to drive. Nice and quiet at highway speeds, but not too quiet.
Comfort Massive amounts of room and super comfy seats. Fit and finish both inside and out was awesome to say the least.
Price in comparison to related products Our Tahoe had every imaginable bell and whistle and you can still get change back from your $35,000 bill.
Editors Notes The ’99 Tahoe LT with the Z71 off-road package is a great rig. utility bound by comfort is the best way to describe this capable 4×4RW



Price as tested: $34,993 (Included standard equipment plus 4-wheel drive with 2 speed T-case, anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, cruise control, keyless remote entry, tilt steering, CD/AM-FM-Cassette stereo, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, power seats, aluminum alloy wheels, and dual auxiliary 12 volt outlets, leather seating surfaces, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, locking differential rear axle and more.)



Vortec 5700 V8 SFI (L31 gasoline)


2 valeves per cyl.


350 c.i. / 4735 c.c.

Compression ratio


Horespower (SAE)

255 bhp @ 4600 rpm


330 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm

Fuel injection




Vacuum assisted 11.47” front discs, 10” rear drums




All-Terrain P265/75R-16


Variable Ratio,integral-power (39 ft. turning radius)



4-speed automatic













Transfer-case type










72.5 in.

Minimum ground clearance


Max trailer capacity

7000 lb

Gross vehicle weight

6450 lb


Seating capacity

5 – 6


dual – Next Gerneration

Cargo capacity – max

99.4 cu ft


Acceleration times


0-60 mph



EPA city/highway

est. 12/16 mpg

Fuel capacity

30 gallons(US)


Stopping times
From 60 mph

3.15 seconds



Brake feel


About Rick Webster

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