The Chevy Tahoe is a pursuit rated SUV, and is increasingly relied on to do the tough work in police fleets. It’s a popular option for several reasons, especially in rural areas. Its all-wheel drive capability, power, and storage capacity make it a must-have in communities where tough terrain and punishing weather are expected. The added cargo room ensures the officer is always prepared, and what’s better is that the Tahoe’s already impressive cargo space can be enhanced further. And because the Tahoe is pursuit rated, it is the kind of vehicle that can use additions that protect it during a chase.
Clearly, what role the Tahoe is going to serve in a fleet will determine the best upfit approach. It can be placed in any job and excel, whether it is used for patrol, for chiefs or for CID. Most departments pick the Tahoe for two primary reasons – its size and its long term value. The Tahoe retains its resale value better than most vehicles on the market, which allows fleet managers to pivot to another vehicle model when needed, without losing much in the exchange.
But for upfitting purposes, it is the Tahoe’s size that merits special attention. Without any modifications, the Tahoe can comfortably seat two officers and still provide more equipment and cargo space than a sedan. In fact, it provides about 112 cubic feet of cargo room behind the front seat, which is one of the most spacious interiors among all vehicles currently manufactured. It is built with WiFi capability, and with its own router and Bluetooth, which opens up options for upfitting. And with its 5.3L Ecotec3 V8 engine, the Tahoe packs a lot of punch in a large package.
1. Push bumpers and wraparound bumpers – A lot of attention will go toward the Tahoe’s interior, but because this vehicle is pursuit rated, it’s important to guard the exterior. Push and wraparound bumpers manufactured from respected firms like Lund Industries and GO Industries are popular choices for the Tahoe. Both are made from single piece steel and protect the vehicle’s front end in the event of a crash. And like the name suggests, those push bumpers can be used to push another vehicle if necessary.
The PASS (Police Audio-visual Safety System) from Lund Industries deserves special mention. The PASS bumper is effective not only as a protective layer, but as an audio enhancement. Speakers, designed with the PASS in mind, are mounted to the bumper’s upright, instead of behind the grill. The result is a much louder siren that can be perceived from further away. That gives other motorists additional time to respond, improving safety on the road.
2. Cargo systems – Although the Tahoe is already toting around more than 110 cubic feet of cargo space, you can never have too much. Because the Tahoe is relied on for its equipment carrying capabilities, manufacturers who engineer cargo systems develop a lot of products for the model. There are many cargo drawer manufacturers that upfitters work with. A couple of the most recognizable and respected brands in this area are OPS Public Safety and Truckvault.
Cargo systems are some of the most customizable upfitting options, as cargo drawers are modular by design. As such, fleet managers can add as much, or as little, cargo space as they need, adjusting those needs based on other equipment selections. The important decisions here are drawer height and organization. Drawer height needs to be considered, as it will limit what firearms can be stored. A short drawer, for example, won’t be able to accommodate a scoped rifle.
It’s also possible to have the drawers organized in a way that allows for a mobile command center, complete with a drawing board.
3. Vehicle armor – As a patrol and pursuit vehicle, the Tahoe needs to be armed and armored for anything. The latter is easily accomplished with the addition of ballistic plates installed in the doors. Angel Armor is a top choice for vehicle ballistic armor, and has received a lot of attention for its workmanship.
The AVAIL IIIA, for example, is the armor of choice for the Tahoe, and it weighs less than 10 pounds. Pound for pound, though, it provides the best protection money can buy. The AVAIL IIIA is IIIA rated, so it can shrug off 9mm and .44 magnum caliber firearms. This, in effect, turns the Tahoe’s doors into shields. When a high speed pursuit comes to a sudden end and the perp is still in their vehicle, that extra layer of armor can help officers stay calm and confident while involved in a standoff.
4. Gun locking systems – Every pursuit and patron vehicle needs a safe and reliable way of securing firearms. Gun locks and racks can be mounted in several spots in the Tahoe, including between the driver and passenger seat, to the vehicle’s ceiling or to a partition behind the front seats.
There are plenty of gun lock manufacturers, but Tufloc is a good choice for Tahoes. Tufloc systems automatically adjust to nearly any make and model of gun, period. So they secure the weapon without damaging it. They can be operated with a single hand and accessed within seconds, and they come with a manual key override in the event of a power failure.
The Chevy Tahoe is a formidable police vehicle platform, blending pursuit speed and near limitless equipment storage into a single SUV. It’s also a playground for upfitters, who can do some amazing things with such a versatile vehicle.