A new 6.2-liter V8 and a sharp appearance package make the Tahoe RST a strong contender in the performance SUV segment.
Update: The article has been updated to display an accurate horsepower figure of 420, not the previously listed 450.
– Dallas, Texas
Chevy knows how to make a good truck – the company has been doing it for over a hundred years, after all. That expertise also carries the marque’s two trucked-based SUVs, the Tahoe and Suburban, which continue to be two of the longest-lasting, best-selling SUVs in the country – and that’s not just marketing jargon.
The bowtie brand has already sold 50,000 examples of the Suburban in 2017, as well as nearly 90,000 examples of the Tahoe in the same timeframe. In an effort to boost those sales figures, Chevrolet has opted to fit the two large SUVs with a go-fast RST model.
The RST, or Rally Street Truck, can be added on any LT model or above. The package fits the standard Tahoe with a handsome exterior upgrade, extra power, and a handful of other performance features like Magnetic Ride Control and a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Under the hood, the 6.2-liter V8 acts as the centerpiece (that same engine is also offered on the GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade). Delivering 420 horsepower, it’s the most powerful option the company has offered in the Tahoe/Suburban to date, and a welcome upgrade over the standard 5.3-liter V8 on the base model, with 355 hp and 383 lb-ft torque.
Even though it tips the scales at more than 5,000 pounds, Chevy clocks the RST at 4.7 seconds to 60 mph.
Paired with the aforementioned Hydra-matic 10-speed automatic transmission, and new Borla exhaust tips that improve airflow by 28 percent, the Tahoe RST has the ability to get up and go in a hurry. Even though it tips the scales at more than 5,000 pounds, Chevy clocks the RST at 4.7 seconds to 60 miles per hour.
From a standstill, power delivery is immediate and intoxicating, planting you firmly in the back of your seat with its 460 pound-feet of torque. Even at 75 mph the Tahoe has the ability to deliver gobs of power, quickly pushing past legal highway speeds. And it sounds great, too; the Borla exhaust provides a familiar yet rousing rumble. Red-colored six-piston Brembo brakes, meanwhile, provide ample amounts of stopping power.
Unfortunately, the 10-speed automatic transmission is less exciting, proving to be lethargic at times. At highway speeds, the transmission takes a few seconds to cycle down through the gears when you push your foot down even halfway on the gas pedal. That same gearbox may work wonders in the lighter Camaro, but when lugging around the heavy Tahoe it feels unrefined.
Cool dads around the country will be fawning over this sharp-looking SUV.
Even with all that extra power, the fact remains: the Tahoe is still a big, body-on-frame SUV, and it performs as such. The steering is numb and unpredictable at times, and in a straight line the wheel moves around too much to be considered precise. Steering feel is slightly improved over the base model, but it remains far from being considering sporty. Even with the addition of Chevy’s Magnetic Ride Control, which has the ability to sense the road at a rate of 1,000 times per second, the Tahoe remains top-heavy in the corners.
Handling aside, another big selling point is its updated styling. The Tahoe RST is very handsome, and I say that without hesitation. Cool dads around the country will be fawning over the sharp-looking SUV. Even though it lacks any RST badging, Chevy has done away with the silly chrome front fascia found in the base models, and has instead opted to give the SUV a look that should appeal to a relatively younger audience.
The grille now features body-colored surrounds and headlight inserts, and black-painted window surround, mirror caps, grille centers, and badges, front and back. It even comes with 22-inch gloss black wheels available exclusively on the RST trim. And you can get it in any color... as long as it’s Black, Summit White, or Tungsten Metallic.
The Tahoe RST isn’t some track-focused performance SUV, nor is it trying to be.
The modern styling carries over the cabin, which uses the same high-quality leather detailing and wood paneling trim found in the standard LT and Premier models. Front-and-center is an eight-inch color touchscreen system equipped with navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. It remains one of the easier-to-use infotainment setups, with big, colorful icons, and not overflowing with too many options.
Given its $68,775 asking price and overall specs, the Tahoe RST stacks up comparatively with SUVs like the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT and Dodge Durango SRT. The two FCA options start at $65,695 and $62,995 respectively, and produce 475 horsepower, making them more powerful than the Tahoe, and with well-tuned suspension systems, better suited for curves, too.
But that doesn’t mean you should discount Chevy’s entry entirely. The Tahoe RST isn’t some track-focused performance SUV, nor is it trying to be. Instead it acts as a more powerful option for runs between soccer practice and the school pickup line, with the ability to turn some heads in the process.
Photos: Jeff Perez / Motor1.com
Gallery: 2018 Chevy Tahoe RST: First Drive
2018 CHEVROLET TAHOE RST AWD