Would You Buy a Squatted Tahoe?

  • By: Sean Cooper
  • Date: September 1, 2022

If you quite like the look of the Chevrolet Tahoe but you don’t want an actual Chevy Tahoe there are several options you could consider. You could buy a GMC Yukon instead, which is basically a slightly fancier Tahoe. You could also go for a Chevy Suburban or GMC Yukon XL, which are just long-wheelbase versions of the Tahoe and Yukon. But if you want a Tahoe that really will stand out in a crowd, even in a crowd of other Yukons, how about going for a squatted Yukon?

What on Earth is a squatted Tahoe?

A squatted Yukon is a modified version of the Chevy SUV (or any truck for that matter) where the front of the vehicle is lifted more than the rear so that the rear appears to have sagged. Originally called the Carolina Squat, even though it is thought to have originated in California, squatted vehicles are usually trucks and they are easily identified as the nose of the truck is raised while the bed of the truck is low.

Also referred to sometimes as the California Lean, Cali Lean or the Tennessee lean, this strange trend was inspired by Baja racing, and believe it or not, there was an actual function to it. Because the Baja race is conducted on a very hilly terrain there are lots of jumps, and the idea behind raising the front of the vehicle higher than the rear is to allow the truck to negotiate the jumps at a higher speed. The rear then becomes the first part of the vehicle to land which therefore avoids a nose-dive that could potentially result in serious damage that could put the truck out of the race.

If you were to go along and watch a Baja race you’d see all sorts of modified trucks; small ones, large ones, mid-size ones, heavily customized production vehicles, and vehicles designed and built from scratch especially for the race. However, you’re probably not going to come across a squatted Tahoe too often as the Tahoe isn’t exactly suitable for desert racing. Although a squatted Tahoe would be tough and rugged, it would also be extremely heavy, and weight is the enemy in almost any form of competitive auto racing.

Before you even think about parting with your hard-earned money for any used car, please make sure you know what you’re buying by getting a vehicle history report you can trust like one from EpicVIN. If you’re buying from a dealer they should provide one, but if they don’t, get your own and it could save you a fortune in the long run.

Why build a squatted Tahoe then?

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A lot of vehicle customization trends start out as a practical modification, such as funny cars and lowriders, and squatting is no exception. These trends might start out as a practical solution to a problem, often in competitive racing, but they soon morph into a fashion where the aesthetic takes over and true functionality goes out of the window.

As you will see from some of the squatted Tahoe images in this article, the customization goes beyond just lowering the rear and raising the front of the Tahoe. The actual wheels appear to be a big part of the fashion too, with many choosing very big but very skinny wheels which I think look pretty ridiculous, and others choosing chunkier wheels with nobbly tires which I think look a lot better.

The big question here has to be why would you build a squatted Tahoe then? And the answer could be for competition, for showing, because you like how it looks, or just because you can I suppose. However, it’s pretty certain that anyone squatting a Chevrolet Tahoe isn’t doing it for any practical reason.

Perhaps surprisingly, squatted trucks are legal to drive on the roads of every single US state apart from North Carolina, which brought in a law banning them on December 1, 2021. So if you want to buy or build a squatted Chevy Tahoe you can drive it on the road, as long as you don’t live in or want to drive it through North Carolina, that is.

Could you live with a squatted Tahoe?

If you have a Chevy Tahoe as your daily driver it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to squat it, especially if you like the more extreme examples of squatted vehicles. Some squats I’ve seen are so subtle that you almost wouldn’t notice it from some angles, but others are so extreme you’d have no chance whatsoever of seeing where you are going unless you have a hole in the floor of your vehicle and you can see through the engine bay.

As well as being difficult, if not impossible to drive, a squatted Tahoe would also end up costing a lot to maintain as the unequal stress placed on the suspension components would inevitably result in lots of wear and tear. Even so, there are plenty of squatted Tahoes around and the people who build them really do appear to love them.

There are plenty of custom jobs done on cars, trucks and SUVs that I think look fantastic, but squatting isn’t one of them for me and I’m also not sure the Chevrolet Tahoe is a vehicle that particularly lends itself to customization.

The Tahoe might be a great family car and a comfortable daily driver, and the Feds like them so much they seem to drive almost nothing else – apart from Suburbans of course – but it’s not a vehicle that’s begging to be customized.

Of course, that’s just my opinion and it’s an opinion that’s obviously not shared by the owners of the vehicles on this page.