Tahoe RST performance package includes 6.2L V-8, 10-speed
It is not a full horsepower war, but performance is becoming a bragging right among large SUVs. General Motors enters the fray with the addition of a pair of special edition full-size SUVs: the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST and the Chevy Suburban RST.
RST, or Rally Street Truck, does not include any interior changes. It’s all exterior and mechanical tweaks to offer a sportier version inspired by the aftermarket. GM executives say it’s something customers are asking for. The special editions will be offered at the LT and Premier trim levels.
GM showed a Tahoe RST in Detroit in white, but it will also be offered in silver, black, and tungsten. What sets the RST apart is a sportier look created by removing chrome and returning pieces such as door handles and the grille surround to body color. The SUV’s grille, runningboard, mirror caps, exhaust tips, roof rails, pillars, and window trim are black, and they come with exclusive 22-inch wheels wrapped in Bridgestone P285/45R22 tires.
Available upgrades include a Borla performance exhaust system that offers a 28 percent improvement in exhaust flow, for a 7- to 10-horsepower gain at the rear wheels. Opt for the brake package to get red Brembo six-piston, fixed-aluminum calipers and larger Duralife rotors. These options are available on standard Tahoes and Suburbans, as well.
The standard engine remains the 5.3-liter V-8 that generates 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. But Tahoe RST buyers can opt for a performance package that for the first time gives the Tahoe the 6.2-liter V-8, which brings horsepower to 420 with 460 lb-ft of torque. The direct-injection engine has active fuel management and continuously variable valve timing.
The performance package includes Magnetic Ride Control suspension calibrated for a performance vehicle to respond to the road and maintain control even while being tossed around more.
And with the package, the Tahoe becomes the second vehicle to get GM’s new 10-speed automatic transmission, which made its debut on the ZL1 Camaro. The transmission is customized for the large SUV that does not need the same crisp shifts as a sports car but will benefit from smaller steps between each ratio to maximize engine power.
Although impressive, the RST and performance package pale against more than 700 horsepower from the Hellcat engine in the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk that will be shown next week at the New York auto show. And the 2018 Dodge Durango with a 475-hp Hemi V-8 will have launch control and the ability to tow 8,600 pounds (3,900 kg) when it goes on sale this fall. Mercedes in increasingly adding AMG versions of its crossovers.
“I’m not predicting a horsepower war in the SUV segment,” said Sandor Piszar, Chevrolet truck marketing director.
That level of horsepower was not the mission for the Rally Sport Truck editions, Piszar said. It is more about choice, offering a sportier package for those who want to treat themselves, he said.
“We know there is demand for a family vehicle that goes 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds,” Piszar said—with that in mind, RST is designed to carry people and their gear in a vehicle that still is refined enough to be a daily driver, gets decent mileage, can tow 8,400 pounds (3,810 kg), and has the added benefit of being a street performance vehicle.
“When you want to hustle, it is incredibly fast with significantly higher levels of acceleration, braking, and road-holding grip,” said Eric Stanczak, chief engineer for Chevrolet full-size trucks.
The RST edition of both SUVs will be available this fall, and the Tahoe performance package follows shortly afterward.
The SUVs are made in Arlington, Texas, and Chevy has found that special editions sell twice as quickly as standard models, which Piszar said are already hot sellers.