FAST, CAPABLE & COMFORTABLE: TAHOE RST
It was a two-day run-and-gun media extravaganza of humdrum info sessions and test-drives, interrupted by bursts of adrenaline, courtesy shotgun high speed, screeching, rubber-burning rides.
When it comes to full-size SUV’s, Chevrolet dominates the market with almost 50% of full-size SUV’s sold being either the Tahoe or Suburban. To create the new Tahoe, Chevy removed the chrome, added 22” wheels, a more duotone colour scheme including blacked out bow-ties, all to give it a more street performance look. What is very interesting is Chevy has taken this all the way with no exterior RST badging - other than the ‘Premier’ label on the rear if you get the 4WD option.
The performance package Magnetic Ride Control is an active dampening system to sense the road 1000 times per second. It allows the SUV to remain very stable driving down windy roads and makes for a very comfortable ride on the highway even at and above 130 kph (80 mph).
But the big story is the Gen 5 6.2L V-8 that generates a pavement stomping 420 hp and a load ripping 460 lb-ft of torque. And although the engine was developed in conjunction with Ford (you’ll find it in the Raptor), the programming and transmission integration was all done by GM. The trick to producing this type of big muscle in a small block V-8 in today’s world is to do so while maintaining respectable fuel economy (20L/100km city/13L/100km hwy/17L/100km combined - 14/22/17 mpg). Chevy pulls this off by using cylinder de-activation and direct injection technology.
Once you build this exciting powerplant you have to get the power
to the pavement. This is where the new 10L80 Hydramatic 10-speed automatic transmission comes into play. It has been tuned to shift accurately and quickly, keeping the engine within the best torque range when you want performance but still making it comfortable for cruising down the road. It has a wide gear ratio spread of 7.39:1 from 1st to 10th.
Bright red, six-piston Brembo brakes up front provide 84% more pad on the disks to keep the brakes cool, reducing fade and shudder. While you won’t notice most of these features when you first start the truck, you will immediately notice the deep throaty rumble of the Borla dual exhaust - even at idle. It doesn’t just create another satisfying sounding V-8; it also provides a 28% improvement in airflow, which helps the RST make 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds while allowing it to tow up to 8400 lbs.
The interior looks great, we loved the heads up display, keyless ignition, customizable dash gauges, collision avoidance features (which we’ve come to expect), and the wireless charging in the centre console is a nice touch. Cool but odd, is the pop-up infotainment screen, which reveals a hidden cubby.
The 2WD base model (non RST) starts at around $55,065 CAD (with 5.3L engine, no Brembo brakes, no Borla exhaust, no, no, no…), while the Premier version with 4WD described here, is roughly $82,371 CAD.
Is there anything we didn’t like about this truck (other than the price)? Plus size phones won’t fit in the centre console charger, and there is very little cargo space behind the third row - which I miss as a previous GMC Suburban owner.
The bottom line is this full-size SUV is an absolute blast to drive, hauls plenty of gear and people, has enough power for most towing needs, and does it all in comfort and luxury with a full suite of driver assist and safety features.
Traffic occasionally prevented us from testing the acceleration.