Chevrolet adds performance model for Tahoe SUV

Chevrolet will add a performance model of its large Tahoe SUV later this year to cash in on the boom in SUV sales. Chevy will also add a new appearance package called RST for the Tahoe and Suburban this fall for the 2018 model year.

“We think the demand for performance SUVs will rise,” Sandor Piszar, Chevrolet truck marketing director, said. “Chevrolet wants to deliver choices” as buyers shift from cars to SUVs.

The performance package will include a 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8 engine, Chevrolet’s new 10-speed automatic transmission and magnetic control adaptive shock absorbers.

It’s the first performance model in the Tahoe’s history and is another sign that automakers are broadening the range of models and features they offer in SUVs as customers who used to buy cars move into the taller, roomier vehicles.

Dodge revealed a new SRT edition of its Dodge Durango in February. It’s equipped with a Hemi V-8 engine that generates 475 horsepower. And Land Rover is unveiling the Range Rover Velar, its “most refined and capable medium SUV.”

“We’re always watching the market for trends like performance SUVs,” said Eric Stanczak, Chevrolet full-size truck and SUV chief engineer.

The performance Tahoe will accelerate to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and will be able to tow up to 8,400 pounds, a combination of speed and capability that would never have occurred to truck buyers in the days when SUVs were primarily for off-roading and trailering.

“There’s a lot of room for more powerful and expensive SUVs,” Autotrader senior analyst Michelle Krebs said.

GM didn’t announce prices for the performance Tahoe, which will be a package of options offered on the new high-end special edition.

“As the SUV market continues to expand, it will draw buyers with a wider range of interests,” IHS Automotive senior analyst Stephanie Brinley said. “That will support more models.”

RST includes body-color and black trim replacing chrome on and around the grille, headlights, outside mirrors, door handles, roof rails and more.

Chevrolet will announce prices, fuel economy and other information closer to when the RST and performance models go on sale later this year.

The Tahoe is the first GM truck to offer the 10-speed automatic transmission, which debuted in the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 sports car. GM will deploy the 10-speed across its full line of rear- and all-wheel-drive vehicles to improve fuel economy and performance.

The Suburban will eventually use the 10-speed transmission, but there are no current plans for a performance model of the larger SUV. That’s because Suburban buyers are more likely to be family people, while the Tahoe’s buyers tend to be younger, better educated and less likely to have children.

The Suburban entered Chevrolet’s lineup in 1935. It’s the longest running nameplate in the global auto industry.

About the Author