An SUV throwback that’s remarkably good at looking forward, the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe is a durable, rugged workhorse that dresses up for just about any kind of duty.
The Chevy Tahoe doesn’t feel like the relic that its spec sheet says it is while possessing more hauling and four-wheeling ability than most crossovers. We’ve rated it 6.6 out of 10 overall (Read more about how we rate cars.)
This year, the breadth and depth of its lineup grows. At the bottom end, there’s a new base trim level that deletes the otherwise standard third row of seats. Also new to the lineup is the RST Package, which pairs a trick magnetic suspension to an available upsized 6.2-liter V-8 and can be fitted with hefty 16.1-inch Brembo brakes. The rest of the lineup carries over mostly unchanged in LS, LT, and Premier trim levels.
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If the Tahoe’s looks aren’t for you, the 2018 GMC Yukon is essentially the same vehicle with its own styling and an optional upmarket Denali trim level. Additionally, the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL take the basic Tahoe/Yukon package and stretch it by about 10 inches for more passenger and cargo room. Cadillac’s Escalade is also a close cousin, albeit one with lots of wood trim, soft leather, and additional sound deadening.
With the exception of the new Tahoe RST, all other Tahoe variants come standard with a 5.3-liter V-8 mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. With 355 horsepower, the 5.3-liter is strong enough, but we’re eager to try out the 2018 Tahoe RST with its optional 420-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 paired to a 10-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive is standard on the Tahoe lineup, with four-wheel drive an extra-cost option.
Underneath, Tahoes ride on a separate ladder frame that endows them with a truckier feel over bumps, more ground clearance than a typical crossover, and a maximum towing rating of 8,400 pounds when properly equipped. They’re hardly sports cars, although they handle well and their soft suspensions take big bumps in stride. We’ve not yet spent time in the Tahoe RST with its more buttoned-down suspension, beefier brakes, and stronger V-8 option.
Inside, the Tahoe is supremely comfortable up front, a little less so in the second rear, and downright tight in the third row. If you’re only going to carry four or five passengers, the Custom Package available on the Tahoe LS drops the list price by $2,300 and deletes the third row in favor of in-floor storage bins. Sadly, the Custom Package doesn’t lower the Tahoe’s rather high load floor, a consolation to a mandate that the third row in the current version needed to fold completely flat.
All Tahoe trim levels are well-equipped, as you’d expect from a price tag that starts around $45,000. A loaded-up Premier easily tops $60,000, however, which puts it in competition with some impressive luxury brand rivals. Standard on LT and Premier trims, and optional on the Tahoe LS, are some desirable advanced safety features like automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
Predictably, the 2018 Tahoe isn’t the thriftiest vehicle on the road, but at up to 19 mpg combined for the rear-wheel drive model with the base 5.3-liter V-8 using regular unleaded, this big bruiser isn’t nearly as thirsty as it was once.