What is it: The 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST is a full-size, body-on-frame SUV with sporting intentions. The RST package adds the bigger 6.2-liter engine, 3.23 rear axle ratio, a high-capacity air cleaner, 10-speed automatic transmission and a few other performance bits. The Brembo brakes are a $2,795 option.
Key Competitors: Dodge Durango RT/SRT, Ford Explorer Sport, Nissan Armada
Base Price: $66,425 As-Tested: Price: $78,450
Highlights: The big V8 in the 2018 Tahoe RST brings 420 hp along with 460 lb-ft of torque. It can tow 8,400 pounds and fit seven passengers in relative comfort. Other changes include body-color grille surround and door handles; gloss-black grille and mirror caps; black roof rails, window trim, badging and Chevy bowties.
Our Opinion: I love this Tahoe, but to buy it, you have to hate gasoline. It’s rated at 14 mpg in the city, but it’s so damn fun to stomp the throttle that it was probably closer to 10 for my two-day combined average.
This V8 and 10-speed combo seem perfectly suited to each other. The 6.2 rumbles semi-quietly along, with a great exhaust burble, until you smash the right pedal. The new transmission, co-developed with Ford, drops three or four gears and roars like, well, a Corvette or Camaro or something. A bigger TrailBlazer SS if you will.
It’s too big to use the words “nimble” or “sporty,” but powerful? It’ll do powerful all day. Even with the “exclusive 22-inch wheels wrapped in Bridgestone tires,” it just blows over potholes and rutted roads without upsetting the passenger compartment. The tires are 45 profile, on the low side, but I never felt like I had to worry about what the road was doing under me with GM’s Magnetic Ride Control. There was no weather during my three days with the car, but I’d guess it would be impervious.
I almost forgot the best part: six-piston Brembo brakes. Perfect pedal feel, almost no movement, and they made this huge utility feel lighter than it should. On the gas, on the steering, it feels like the 5,600 pounds that it is, but it’ll stop on a dime. Maybe not a dime, but a silver dollar for sure. You can't confidently hustle a big car like this without them. Unfortunately, they're not included with the RST package; you'll have to shell out another $2,795.
The steering is just on the easy side of medium, effort-wise, but not full-luxury, one-finger control like the Cadillac Escalade or Lincoln Navigator. It felt spry for its size, I can say confidently.
Inside there’s plenty of space, the seats have a ton of adjustment and the infotainment works well. I put both a toddler seat and child seat in the second row and it left enough space for above-average first row passengers. That’s not always the case (see Infiniti QX80 and Land Rover Discovery). Cargo space won't be a problem until you have a basketball team's worth of kids to contend with.
The top Tahoe trim straddles the luxury/near luxury line. At $78K it’s almost as expensive as that aforementioned QX80, and that has every option in the book. On the other hand, so does this Tahoe. Heated and cooled leather seats, heated wheel, automatic start, all the goodies. And since I like my SUVs square, this one checks the boxes for me. I don’t love the weirdly shaped headlights though.
—Jake Lingeman, road test editor
Options: RST performance edition including 3.23 rear axle ratio, trailer brake controller, high capacity air cleaner, 170-volt generator, 6.2-liter V8 EcoTec3, ten-speed automatic, active noise cancellation, two-speed transfer case ($5,450); Sun, Entertainment, Destination Package with a power sunroof, rear seat entertainment, additional nine months XM radio ($2,885), performance front brake kit ($2,795), 8" diagonal reconfigurable cluster with head up display ($850), cocoa/mahogany interior ($295), all-weather floor liner ($250), sun, entertainment, destination discount (-$500)
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $66,425
As Tested Price: $78,450
Powertrain: 6.2-liter V8, 4WD, ten-speed automatic
Output: 420 hp @ 5,600 rpm; 460 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm
Curb Weight: 5,631 lb
Fuel Economy: 14/22/17 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: Stellar brakes, angry roar
Cons: Super thirsty for fuel, priced in the luxury-car range