The new Chevrolet Tahoe RST is the mid-level model of a classic that now enters its fifth-generation. Originally revealed to the public in 1992, it continues to get better, and this 2021 model is the best yet.
But can it be your everything? (Meaning: your end-all, be-all SUV?) Read on to find out!
THE TAHOE IS NOT JUST A LAKE IN NEVADA
It’s also the name of Chevrolet’s second-largest sport utility vehicle, second only to the larger-than-large Chevrolet Suburban. Pretty big in its own right, the Chevrolet Tahoe RST can carry, depending on configuration, up to nine passengers. And that’s before you even consider hooking anything to the tow ball-hitch, which can yank up to 8,400 pounds.
Being such a big truck requires absolute brute strength. On the Tahoe, that can come three ways. Our tester was powered by GM’s 5.3-liter V8 engine making 355 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm and 383 lb-ft of torque. Plenty stout, it sent power to all four wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission.
All V8 engines are equipped with GM’s Dynamic Fuel Management with 12 firing modes for efficiency and power. The system can “turn off” cylinders to save fuel once cruising speed has been achieved.
There is also a second V8 option in the form of a 6.2-liter 420 horsepower V8 that makes 460 lb-ft of torque. Finally, a 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-6 that produces 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque.
New this year, the Tahoe rides on a new independent rear suspension (IRS). Not only does it increase the space inside the vehicle, increasing passenger legroom and cargo carrying ability; It also improves the ride.
In case you were wondering, the Tahoe starts as a base, rear-wheel-drive vehicle. Ours included 4WD, a Max Trailering Package with two-speed transfer case, Advanced Trailering System, Advanced cooling radiator, trailer brake controller and hitch guidance with hitch view. It’s like a rearview camera on steroids.
The Tahoe is available in six trim levels. They begin with the base LS, LT, RST, Z71 and lead up to the Premier and High Country models.
HOW DOES THE TAHOE LOOK?
In a word: Massive. Sure, it’s not as long as the Chevy Suburban, but it is about the size of the Sport Utes used by the U.S. Secret Service as their executive transport and “War Wagon” vehicles. It’s now half a foot longer than the model it replaced and now reaches 210.7 inches from front to back.
The Chevrolet Tahoe RST features a large, two-box design that is more stylistic thanks to its forward-leaning C-pillars. The big grille is here again, with more character than ever, from such features as new LED headlights and, of course, the bowtie in the grille.
In RST trim, the Tahoe includes blacked-out accessories, contrast-color interior stitching, black chrome exterior trim and 22-inch black-painted alloy wheels.
HOW ABOUT INSIDE THE TAHOE?
The new Chevrolet Tahoe RST retains a three-row seating arrangement that can handle up to 9-passengers. In the case of Napleton.News‘ tester, it was configured with bucket front seats, second-row captain’s chairs and third-row split-bench seats. About those third-row seats: they now have up to 10 inches of legroom. Behind the rear seats is 25.5 cubic feet of cargo storage room. Fold the second and third-row seats forward and that space climbs to 94.7 cubic feet! And you can get into the cargo hold through the power-operated liftgate.
In the front seat, a new and rather large 10-inch touchscreen display for infotainment and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Speaking of smartphones, it’s easy to just lay it on the Qi wireless pad inside the Tahoe for quick lasso-free charging.
Hop into the second row and you could prep for a night at the Cinema courtesy of the pair of 12.6-inch diagonal touchscreen display screens that are part of the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 Premium with navigation. There’s that, and a pair of 120-volt household outlets.
DRIVING THE CHEVROLET TAHOE RST
Getting behind the wheel of the Chevrolet Tahoe RST is easily accomplished by grabbing the steering wheel as a grab handle to pull inside. Once seated and buckled inside, it takes just a second to land in place and buckle up. It’s exiting that requires a bit more finesse. GM added side steps to our vehicle, which never seem to line up correctly. It is almost easier to move your leg out over the step and stand directly on the ground when you step out. And there’s the rub: when you do this maneuver, the chances are good that your pant legs will attract anything wet or dirty on the running boards as you exit.
Forget that for a minute. It’s once you push the starter button where all the magic begins. This strong 5.3-liter V8 cranks with an authoritative exhaust note that lets all around know this Tahoe is ready to haul. This SUV will haul a lot more than an 8,400-pound boat.
From a ride standpoint, this SUV handles better than any other we have tried in recent years. Credit the independent rear suspension for that, the ride is more refined than ever before. We only wish our tester was equipped with GM’s Magnetic Ride Control, which smooths out the ride quality on the fly. It’s the same system that is used in all Corvette Stingrays and even some Ferrari models.
Just imagine that: An SUV that thinks it’s a sports car!
CHEVROLET TAHOE RST SPECIFICATIONS:
Type: Full-Size Sport Utility Vehicle
Passengers: 7, 8, 9 depending on configuration
Horsepower: 355 horsepower @ 5,600 RPM
Torque: 383 lb-ft torque @ 4,100 RPM
Engine: 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management
Drive: 2WD, Available 4WD
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Curb Weight: 5,355 pounds
Ground Clearance: 7.9 inches
Overall Length: 210.7 inches
Wheelbase: 120.9 inches
Cargo Capacity: 94.7 cubic feet