Enhanced Performance: 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST

The 2018 Tahoe gains an available performance kick.

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Premier
2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Premier with RST Performance Package.

Chevy Tahoe fans want it all and until recently the only thing lacking has been the larger of the two V8 gas engines GM builds. However, beginning with the 2018 model year, the 6.2-liter V8 found in the Silverado finds its way to the Tahoe. Unfortunately, it isn’t available across the model range as you must ultimately opt for features that will drive your final price ever higher. Those features were included in my weekly test vehicle.

The 2018 Tahoe comes in three trims: LS, LT and Premier. Two-wheel drive is standard and four-wheel drive is available across the model range.

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Premier 4WD with the RST Edition

My test vehicle was none other than a 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Premier 4WD with the RST Edition. This special edition is available only on the LT and Premier trims. To add further intrigue, an RST 6.2L Performance Package serves as the icing on the RST cake, but is available on the top-trim Premier model only. This package comes with the 6.2-liter V8 engine paired with a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Further, a Magnetic Ride Control suspension system for improved steering and handling is part of the package.

Not only did my Tahoe tester come fully equipped with the RST Performance Package, but it received two dealer-installed upgrades: six-piston Brembo front brakes with red caliper covers and a Borla performance exhaust system. No wonder the final price topped $78,000 or nearly $30,000 more than the base model.

The souped-up Tahoe is absolute eye candy, from its bright white metallic paint covering my test model to its Brembo and Borla embellishments. Indeed, it is the two latter add-ons that make this SUV pop and drew the most attention from passersby, including one young woman who exclaimed, “I like your truck,” as she unlocked her Honda Pilot. Yes, the Tahoe is a “truck” or at least it is a truck-based sport utility vehicle. In the full-size class, such models still dominate — Chevrolet’s nearest-sized crossover is the Traverse. But I digress.

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Premier

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Premier

Sample Package Offerings

There are also variations on the three-trim theme that goes beyond the RST edition ($2,640) on the LT and Premier models. A Midnight Edition ($1,835, with black painted wheels and similar trim touches) can be had on the LT. You’ll find a Signature Package on the LT and an All-Season Package ($3,080, with upgraded body-side moldings, a tweaked rear axle, an integrated brake trailer, max trailering package and 20-inch wheels) on the LS.

The package that many buyers won’t overlook and can be had on all trims is the Max Trailering Package ($580, with upgraded rear axle ratio, an integrated trailer brake controller and a two-speed active transfer case with four-wheel drive only), what enables the Tahoe to reach its top-end 8,600-pound tow rating.

As before, most models come with the 5.3-liter V6, generating 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. This engine still comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, although a transmission with additional cogs is likely in this vehicle’s future. New for 2018 is a Custom Edition available on LS models, standard LED daytime driving lights across the model line and two new exterior colors. I’ve already mentioned the other changes.

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Premier

Top-End Tahoe Performance

I’m a fan of performance exhaust systems, mostly because of the beautiful note delivered. Push the start button and the engine fires up and the exhaust bellows, then continues supplying a low rumble as you ease your way down the street. Floor the gas pedal and the din raises to a delicious vroom. Under hard acceleration, the noise is especially strident and likely even a bit intimidating to others as you bear down on traffic.

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe PremierThe magnetic ride control system delivers a dollop of awesome sauce, especially as you take on twisty, back roads. Body roll is kept to a minimum and that’s great, because you’ll want to fully grasp just how well this big SUV carves curves and pulls out of corners. Of course, any SUV is always at a distinct disadvantage to a sports car — the high profile and bulk mean you’re hardly hugging the ground, but at least you’ll enjoy a handling edge not found in ordinary models.

Find the sweet spot of hanging the curves while the exhaust releases back pressure and you’ll wear a stupid grin. The extra kick from the engine alone is terrific — the 10-speed automatic shifts flawlessly and never hunts for gears.

Tahoe Highlights

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe PremierThe Chevrolet Tahoe seats seven and there isn’t a penalty seat in the house, thanks to the two middle row captain’s chairs. That said, the center row offers the most comfort and space for rear-seated passengers.

Standard equipment for the Tahoe Premier includes high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps, fog lamps, power adjustable and heated side mirrors, luggage rack side rails, 20-inch polished aluminum wheels and a hands-free gesture liftgate. Optional equipment includes power-retractable assist steps, a power sunroof and 22-inch wheels.

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe PremierInside, you’ll find front-row leather seats, an 8-inch diagonal touchscreen with navigation, a 10-speaker Bose audio system, heated first- and second-row seats, ventilated front seats, third-row power-folding 60:40 split fold-down seat, a heated steering wheel, a power tilt-and-telescopic steering column and keyless entry with push-button start. Optional features include a rear-seat Blu-Ray DVD entertainment system, wireless charging and an enhanced instrument panel display.

Safety features include a rear vision camera and lane change alert with side blind zone alert. Optional equipment includes adaptive cruise control.

Chevrolet Tahoe Parting Thoughts

As always, there are trade-offs when choosing a more powerful model. In this case, the vehicle at hand makes an EPA-estimated 14 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway and that’s 2 mpg less than some versions. Further, the performance Tahoe requires premium gasoline, typically adding 25-to-50 cents per gallon over regular fuel.

Although added running costs may be a concern for some consumers, it is doubtful that anyone with the financial resources to acquire this model share those concerns. Ultimately, the top-end RST Tahoe combines performance, utility and passenger comfort, attributes certain to appeal to a niche segment of SUV shoppers.

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Premier

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Premier RST

  • Sticker price from $70,945
  • Price as tested: $78,500
  • Seats 7 occupants
  • 6.2-liter V8 gasoline engine
  • 420 horsepower @ 5,600 RPM
  • 460 foot-pounds of torque @ 4,100 RPM
  • 10-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 116 inches
  • Length: 203.9 inches
  • Width: 80.5 inches
  • Height: 74.4 inches
  • Passenger volume: 122.4 cubic feet
  • Storage volume: 15.3/51.7/94.7 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: up to 8,600 pounds
  • EPA: 14 mpg city, 22 mpg highway
  • Premium grade gasoline
  • Fuel tank: 26 gallons
  • Curb weight: 5,631 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: NR
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 6 years/100,000 miles
  • Vehicle assembly: Arlington, Texas USA

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Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.