SUVs

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST is a muscled-up SUV

With a 6.2-liter V8 engine, the Rally Sport Truck version of the Tahoe can take the family on some very fast adventures.

Chevrolet

It's not very often that a full-size SUV is also fun to drive. Usually driving anything that can seat up to nine passengers is a slow-and-steady experience. So imagine my surprise, when on a Chevrolet-sponsored press drive in Texas, I found myself giddy and grinning behind the wheel of the 2018 Tahoe RST.

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The Chevrolet Tahoe is a true body-on-frame SUV that also provides the architecture for the longer, big-boy Suburban. The RST -- which stands for Rally Sport Truck -- starts as either a Premier or LT model and adds a $2,630 appearance package with blacked out trim, body-color door handles and 22-inch gloss black wheels. But just for extra shits and giggles, the $2,820 RST Performance Package also gets you a 6.2-liter V8 engine, a 10-speed automatic transmission and GM's excellent magnetic ride control. It's the must-have option for your RST, though sadly, it's only available on the high-end Premier trim.

Piloting this 17-foot-long behemoth through Dallas is no easy task, so I'm grateful for the blind-spot monitoring's ability to keep an extra pair of eyes on what's going on around me. Lane departure warning is also helpful in a vehicle of this size, and the driver's safety seat is a neat little trick that buzzes the seat cushion should you start to veer over the line. I will say, it's a bummer that adaptive cruise control is not available with the 6.2-liter engine. Those who want big-time speed may also want to let the car do some of the work sometimes, and it's a shame the two aren't available together.

The simple yet effective MyLink infotainment system is one of the best out there, offering easy access to navigation, satellite radio and the spy-on-your-kids Teen Driver app. New for this year is Chevy's Marketplace app, which allows drivers to order food and drinks ahead of time at Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and IHOP. Hell, TGI Friday's will even let you reserve a table -- you know, for those wacky Wednesday nights you spend at the chain restaurant. I'm not able to sample the technology during my short time with the Tahoe, but I'm definitely eager to try it out, if only for the novelty of ordering a dozen wings from Wingstop while sitting in traffic. That said, MyLink's 4G LTE wireless hotspot can support up to seven mobile devices, so I'm not sure how useful the Marketplace app is, at least when there are passengers in the car. And for all those passengers, the Tahoe has your charging needs covered. There are as many as seven USB ports as well as four 12-volt outlets, a 110-volt three-prong outlet and available wireless charging.

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With seating for up to nine people, the Chevy Tahoe RST is both a family hauler and a burnout champion.

Chevrolet

The Tahoe RST's 10-speed automatic transmission is a retuned version of the one used in the Camaro ZL1. With 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque on tap from the 6.2-liter small-block V8, the powertrain provides a clean line of acceleration with exceptionally smooth shifts. Chevy says that hitting 60 miles per hour takes just 5.7 seconds, which is pretty impressive for a four-wheel-drive SUV that weighs north of 5,600 pounds.

At some point -- maybe not in Texas -- the Tahoe RST will have to turn, and that's where Magnetic Ride Control takes the spotlight. The suspension continually monitors the road and changes the damping in response to current conditions. It results in a stiffer suspension while cornering and a softer suspension when cruising. The Tahoe RST is never going to be a tossable toy, but MRC gives me more confidence in the turns than I expect while driving a heavy, full-size SUV.

All of this is great, but where the Tahoe RST disappoints is in cargo capacity, even despite its massive size. With the two rear rows of seating folded flat, there is "only" 94.7 cubic feet of space -- a huge number, sure, but still the smallest in the segment. The Ford Expedition bests it by 10 cubes while the giant Toyota Sequoia has a total of 120 cubic feet of space. In other words, you can fit 110 more 12-packs of Diet Dr. Pepper in a Toyota Sequoia than you can in the Chevy Tahoe RST. Think about those implications.

The four-wheel drive Tahoe RST returns 14 miles per gallon in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, with the two-wheel drive version getting just one mpg better on the highway. If fuel economy is your thing, try the Ford Expedition, the class leader at 17 city and 24 on the highway.

Of course, if you have your eye on the Tahoe RST for its sheer performance, it's important to note there's some stiff competition in this space. With 475 horsepower from a 6.4-liter V8, the Dodge Durango SRT has a much quicker 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds, and don't forget that Jeep offers a version of the Grand Cherokee with the same engine, as well as the absolutely insane 707-hp Trackhawk.

Tahoe pricing starts at a reasonable $48,745 for an LS model with two-wheel drive, a high-end, four-wheel drive Premier starts at $65,130. Add the RST packages, a $2,885 entertainment package, $2,795 for upgraded front brakes (which oddly isn't part of the RST Performance Package) and a few other baubles and the price works out to a lofty $78,155.

That's certainly a lot of coin to pony up for a Tahoe, but the added kick of the 6.2-liter V8 makes the RST a bit of a sleeper. A very large sleeper.

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