Chevrolet Tahoe RST 6.2L 4WD
About a decade ago, Chevrolet got fast and frivolous with SS badges, gluing them on questionable machines like the Malibu Maxx SS, the Impala SS, and the naturally aspirated version of the Cobalt SS. Those cars weren’t worthy of the legendary letters, which first appeared on a high-performance Chevy Impala back in 1961, and their existence only corroded the meaning of Super Sport. The 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST proves the gang at Chevrolet has learned from their mistakes. Although this is the quickest and most powerful Tahoe ever, with a strapping 6.2-liter V-8 similar to the one in the Camaro SS and Corvette Stingray, General Motors says the team didn’t even consider slapping SS badges on this SUV. That is a good thing.
RST stands for Rally Sport Truck, and it’s an optional package available on the Tahoe’s upper LT and Premier trim levels. The RST is essentially an appearance package that adds black bow-tie badges, gloss black 22-inch wheels (up from 20-inches) with silver accents, a black grille, black mirrors, black roof rails, and black window trim. Chevy says the RST is inspired by aftermarket tuning trends and calls it a street performance look. The package costs $2630–$2640 (depending on trim level) and does nothing to improve the performance of the full-size SUV. Under the hood, the standard 355-hp 5.3-liter V-8 remains backed by a six-speed automatic transmission.
However, on Premier-level Tahoes like our test truck, buyers can also opt for the RST 6.2L Performance package for an additional $2720 (or $2820 on 4WD models), which is the only way to get GM’s larger 6.2-liter V-8 with 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque in the Tahoe. The bundle is available on both rear- and all-wheel-drive models, with the latter carrying a $3000 premium. It also includes GM’s new 10L80 10-speed automatic, a shorter 3.23:1 axle ratio (versus a 3.08:1), and adaptive Magnetic Ride Control dampers with a performance calibration. 4WD models also get a two-speed active transfer case. Chevy backs off on the suspension spring rates, softening the fronts from 610 to 560 pounds and switching the rears from a variable-rate spring (250/445 pounds) to fixed 245-pound units.
With its 26-gallon fuel tank full of 91 octane, our test truck weighed 5782 pounds, which is 135 pounds less than the last Ford Expedition 4×4 we tested. The Tahoe’s balance is impressive, with only 51.6 percent of its weight over its front tires. The big aluminum-block V-8 is set well back in the chassis, with the entire engine behind the SUV’s front axle line. Chevy also uses an aluminum hood to shave weight, for whatever it’s worth in a giant rig like this one.
At the test track, the Tahoe hustled from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. That’s 1.5 seconds quicker than a Tahoe with the standard 5.3-liter V-8, and it’s the same performance we recorded in the Ford Expedition Platinum 4×4 powered by a 400-hp 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. The last Cadillac Escalade we tested, a 2016 model, was 0.1 second slower, but its 6.2-liter was paired with an eight-speed automatic; for 2018 the Escalade gets the 10-speed, as does the GMC Yukon Denali. The Tahoe RST also was quick through the quarter-mile with a run of 14.1 seconds at 100 mph. That’s 1.4 seconds better than the standard Tahoe and a few tenths quicker (and 3 mph faster) than the Expedition. Keep your foot down and the RST continues to pull away from the Ford, hitting 110 mph 1.9 seconds quicker. Remember, these two SUVs use the same 10-speed automatic that was co-developed by GM and Ford.