The words “sporty” and “Chevy Tahoe” don’t typically inhabit the same sentence. It’s in the way “Waffle House” and “gourmet dining” are something of an ill-matched coupling.
Not that there’s anything remotely wrong with Waffle House. Their poached eggs on toasted wholewheat with scattered-smothered-and-covered is a hearty, high-value repast.
But after a week behind the elevated helm of Chevy’s latest Tahoe RST, I came away mightily impressed that a roughly 5,600-pound whopper like this could rush around the way it does.
It’s kinda like Hyacinth, the equally light-on-her-feet, dancing hippo in the Disney classic, Fantasia.
Part of it is down to the all-muscle 6.2-liter Ecotec V8 lurking under that mile-wide hood. It packs a non-trivial 420 horseys and 460 torques, or roughly the combined stamina of a stable-full of Budweiser Clydesdales.
Add to this the RST’s quick-shifting 10-speed automatic, Corvette-style Magnetic Ride Control suspension, and 22-inch rubberware at each corner, and this bad-boy Tahoe carve curves with surprising agility and poise.
And it certainly looks the part of the athletic sport-ute, with its Radiant Red paint that glows with ferocity.
That, and the RST’s imposing, stealthy-black grille, blacked-out Chevy bow-tie badging, cool black-and-silver 22-inch rims, and a quartet of stainless exhausts that wouldn’t look out of place on a Peterbilt.
And if all this isn’t enough for your performance needs, check the box on the Tahoe order sheet for the just-released RST Performance Edition package.
Here, beneath the fancy paint and contrast-stitch leather, lies a genuine Tahoe “Pursuit-rated Police Vehicle,” or PPV, for short.
Just like the Tahoe cop cars that Chevy has been building since the ’90s, you get more power, more performance to catch the bad guys, tighter suspension, and bigger brakes.
In the case of the 2023 RST Performance Edition, it means 13 extra ponies and seven extra pound-feet of torque. If you’re counting, that adds-up to an impressive 433-horsepower and 467 lb-ft, making it Chevy’s most powerful Tahoe ever.
Click the stopwatches and you’ll see standstill to 60mph acceleration in 5.8 seconds, which compares to 6.0 seconds for the regular RST. That’s pretty peppy.
Arguably more appealing are the suspension and braking upgrades, which include police-spec springs, retuned dampers, lower ride height, and monster Brembo brakes with front rotors 25 percent larger in diameter than the standard RST’s stoppers.
The Performance Edition pack is an $8,500 upgrade to the $65,795 Tahoe RST 4WD, and on paper, it is definitely worth the investment.
Or maybe not. The stock 2023 Tahoe RST I’ve been driving felt plenty powerful, and surprisingly nimble in its role as great performance family hauler.
Like all Tahoes, it offers more interior space than a Greyhound bus, with three rows of seats, and even adult-sized legroom way back in the third row. Fold the second and third rows flat and there’s enough room for all your Best Buy Black Friday treasures.
With the RST spec, you also get luxury and quality on the menu. Lovely glove-soft leather trim with fancy red contrasting stitching, funky dimpled-patterned panels on the dash and center console armrest, and thick leather on the steering wheel.
But it’s at this point I raise my hand in complaint at some of the truly dumb switchgear splattered across the dash. There are push-button controls you almost need a magnifying glass to see.
And the pull-button gear selector high-up on the dash is, to me, a new ergonomic low. Here, Chevy requires you to delicately hook a pinkie under the undersized flaps and pull-up to engage reverse or drive. Of course, you have to push down to engage park or neutral.
All that fades when taking-in the all-round goodness that’s this versatile, surprisingly fun-to-drive, road warrior Tahoe RST.
As for that RST badge, I’m guessing it must stand for Racy Sport Truck.