There was a moment there in the late ’90s and the early ’00s when it seemed like Detroit’s sport trucks were its new sports cars. But the segment died during the Great Recession when gas prices soared near $5 per gallon. With gas prices relatively low again, the segment has roared back, and flying the GM flag is the new 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Premier RST Performance Edition.
Not to be confused with the lesser RST Edition package, the RST 6.2L Performance Edition adds a—you guessed it—6.2-liter V-8 to the top-level Tahoe Premier. Although the 420-hp and 460-lb-ft V-8 is new to the Tahoe, it’s been found in the related GMC Yukon Denali and Cadillac Escalade since they launched in 2015.
As such, the V-8 is not exclusive among the full-size GM SUVs—its quick-shifting 10-speed automatic co-developed with Ford is also found in the GMC Yukon Denali and serious performance vehicles like the Chevy Camaro ZL1 and Ford F-150 Raptor. Chevy rounds out the RST Performance package with Magnetic Ride Control (MRC) suspension, performance all-season tires, and visual styling cues.
Additional performance options that bolstered our tester include four-wheel drive, a mean-sounding Borla exhaust that supposedly adds a couple horsepower, and large six-piston Brembo front brakes. We recommend ticking all three of those boxes, for reasons that’ll become apparent in just a sec.
At the track, the Tahoe RST Performance Edition is easily the quickest Tahoe we’ve tested. Using road test editor Chris Walton’s patented “Walton Method,” launching in 4Hi and switching to 2Hi quickly after takeoff, the Tahoe RST runs 0–60 mph in 5.8 seconds, and it gets through the quarter mile in 14.2 seconds at 98.4 mph—the V-8 bellowing triumphantly through the Borla exhaust the whole way. That bests the quickest standard Tahoes we’ve tested by more than a second. GM’s 6.2-liter V-8 has always been a sweetheart of an engine with plenty of torque available immediately off the line and throughout its powerband, and it’s only made better by the 10-speed auto with its lightning-quick and almost imperceptible gearshifts.
The Tahoe RST is great at getting moving, but when it comes to stopping and turning, it needs a bit of help. Despite the optional ($2,795!) front Brembo brakes, the Tahoe RST’s Bridgestone Dueler H/Ts don’t provide the traction needed to get this SUV stopped from 60 mph in anything less than 133 feet.
The RST’s steering carries a touch of wander and little in the way of feel. But its Magnetic Ride Control suspension does notably improve the Chevy’s cornering ability. With MRC virtually eliminating body roll, the Tahoe RST will corner far faster than such a beast has any right to—lapping our figure eight in 26.1 seconds at 0.70 g average and pulling 0.84 g average on the skidpad.
Ultimately, if you’re looking to the Tahoe RST Performance Edition as the be-all, end-all sports truck, you’re bound to be disappointed. A man much wiser than me once said, “There’s no fighting physics.” With 22-inch wheels and tires to contend with, plus this big girl’s 5,752-pound curb weight, the Tahoe RST is outclassed by slightly smaller, more powerful SUVs that jumble the same three letters.
Even so, the Tahoe RST’s bigger engine and 10-speed transmission represent a solid upgrade that drastically improves the Tahoe drive experience. Add in a little bit of TLC to the Tahoe RST’s steering and braking manners from the Chevy Performance team, and it could be a stronger entry.
|2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Premier RST (with Performance Package)|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$78,540|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, 4WD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||6.2L/420-hp/460-lb-ft* OHV 16-valve V-8|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||5,752 lb (52/48%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||203.9 x 80.5 x 74.4 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.8 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.2 sec @ 98.4 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||133 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.84 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.1 sec @ 0.70 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||14/22/17 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||241/153 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.16 lb/mile|
|* SAE certified|