It remained a head-scratcher why Chevrolet didn’t offer the 6.2L L86 V8 engine in its full size Tahoe or Suburban SUVs. The Cadillac Escalade, obviously, got it. The Yukon Denali models got it. And the Silverado/Sierra twins got it. Putting the 420 horsepower mill — the most powerful V8 engine offered from the factory in GM SUVs — eluded the $47,500+ Chevrolet Tahoe, and Suburban, seemingly by artificial tact.
Last year, Chevrolet announced that would no longer be the case, and with the launch of the Tahoe RST with the Performance Package, the Chevy SUV family finally offers the L86. The Performance Package, exclusive to the RST trim level, gives the Tahoe the familiar thrust of the previously mentioned GM portfolio sport utility vehicles, and rolls out the new 10-speed automatic transmission for the first time for Chevy SUV models, as well. The results of which are delightful.
By nature, the full-size Tahoe is already imposing, powerful, and esteemed. The Chevrolet Tahoe RST takes these attributes of the standard Tahoe, and amplifies them. It’s visually more sporty, thanks to a unique set of blackened 22-inch wheels, a more monochromatic paint theme (no chrome!), black mirror caps, and a black grille. The 6.2L, obviously, gives this big SUV big horsepower numbers, which can be heard loud and clear thanks to the Borla exhaust. And none of this comes cheap, which is what makes it more esteemed. Out the door, a 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Premiere RST with the Performance Package commands at least $68,845 out the door. That’s Range Rover Sport money, and about $5,000 more than the more powerful Dodge Durango SRT, which also has three rows. Regardless, the 2018 Tahoe RST has a character unique from its closest rivals, and will no doubt leverage the rabid following of loyal Chevrolet SUV customers.
As we’ve seen in other GM SUV implementations, the biggest gain for the Tahoe RST is the 10-speed automatic. In every facet, it’s superior to the eight-speed that was in previous model year Denali and Escalade models, as well as the elder six-speed that’s in the Chevy SUV products. There’s far less hesitation in city driving, so no annoying lurches in stop-go traffic. Shifting is effortless under normal acceleration, and rapid with the pedal to the floor. In turn, this enhances the overall enjoyment of the 420 horsepower unleashed from the L86, and the snarling Borla exhaust is perfect garnish for this powerplant. To sum the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST Performance Pack up in one sentence: it’s a muscle car that seats seven.
However, and this can’t be stressed enough, the 10-speed is exclusive to the Performance Pack option of the Tahoe RST, which is also the only way the Tahoe RST gets the 6.2L L86. To unlock the Performance Pack, it’s mandatory to choose the range-topping Premiere trim level. Repeat: the base Tahoe RST comes with a 5.3L V8 and six-speed automatic. It all seems rather Byzantine, but right now, it’s the only way. So make sure you’re ordering the right configuration and checking all the necessary boxes if you want one.
This Tahoe RST Performance Pack is also, essentially, a risk-free endeavor for Chevrolet, and not all that revolutionary. However, it’s another example of what GM can do with its massive parts bin in quick time and minimal lobbying to the finance department to get it approved. Pulling the L86 from the Escalade and Yukon Denali basically means that much of the engineering money was already paid for, and should only add to the profit margins of an already highly profitable vehicle, in a segment that GM absolutely cashes in on. That AV money fire isn’t going to fuel itself, after all.