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The performance version of Chevy's large SUV is not only practical and good looking, but surprisingly fun to drive.

COURTESY CHEVROLET - The 2018 Chevy Tahoe RTS drives as great as it looks, and has plenty of room for large families and all their geat.I'll admit to feeling a little intimdated when I first climbed into the seat 2018 Chevy Tahoe, the subject of this week's test. After months testing nothing bigger than compact crossovers, the full-size Tahoe seemed enormous. The fact that I need to the running board to get into the cab said it all.

And compared to the crossovers I'd been driving, the Tahoe was not a car-based vehicle with a car-like ride and handling. It was an old-fashioned truck-based SUV, basically a crew cab pickup with an enclosed fold down third row of seats instead of a bed.

In fact, I'd owned a vehicle much like this many years ago, a used 1972 GMC Suburban that had been originally purchased by the U.S. Forest Service and then abused by several owners before I got my my hands on it. So, as I gazed across the lengthy hood, I thought I knoew what I was in for — a slow, rough riding handful of a vehicle best suited for wide subdivision streets and shopping center parking lots.

COURTESY CHEVROLET - The special wheels on the 2018 Chevy Tahoe RTS.But it only took a few miles for me to appreciate how far the Tahoe, the shorter version of the current Chevy Suburban, has come over the years — especially if its equipped with the optional RST performance package, like mine was. In that case, it's actually fun to drive.

For starters, despite weighing more than two tones, the Tahoe was relatively fast off the line, thanks to the 6.2-liter V8 that pumped out 420-horsepower and 460 foot-pounds of torque. The handling was surprisingly light, a result of the optional Magnetic Ride Control suspension. It stopped with authority, aide by the dealer-installed Brembo performance disc brake kits. And when pushed it sounded great, courtesy of the dealer-installed Borla performance exhaust system.

The Tahoe RST was also remarkably quiet, more like a genuine luxury car than the big box on wheels that it actually is. That's in part because it was also a top-of-the-line Premium model with such features as a complete leather interior, an upgraded 10-speaker Bose stereo, a rear passenger entertainment system, and dual sunroofs.

COURTESY CHEVROLET - The dealer-installed Brembo brake package.On top of that, the Tahoe RST looks great, thanks to an appearance pacakge that includes Gloss Black aluminum wheels with custom silver inserts, front and rear black bowties, a unique Gloss Black Sport grille with body-color surround, body-color door handles and headlamp accents, black mirror caps, beltline moldings and roof rails and black nameplate badging.

But that doesn't mean the Tahoe RST wasn't practical. It had ample room for seven people and was equipped wiith a four-wheel-drive system that could be set from two-wheel-drive to fully locked rear differential from a knob on the dash. It will also tow up to 8,400 pounds.

Of course, all the options aren't cheap, pushing the price over $78,000. Less equipped Tahoe's still have a lot to offer, however, including a base 5.3-liter V8 that delivers 355 horsepower and 383 foot-pounds of torque — and all the aforementioned interior room, plus seating that can be configured for up to nine.

All Tahoe models come with a wealth of safety features, including multiple air bags for all rows of seats, Forward Collision Alert, Safety Alert Driver Seat, IntelliBeam

headlamps with automatic high-beam control, Lane Keep Assist and Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking. Also available are Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert and Rear CrossTraffic Alert, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Automatic Braking.

COURTESY CHEVROLET - The dealer installed Borla dual exhaust.Available technologies include an 8-inch color touchscreen radio with next-generation MyLink connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability,

4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot (includes three-month/3G data trial), and up to seven USB ports and six power outlets.

Obviously, not everyone needs a vehicle as large as a Tahoe, let alone one with the RST performance package. But for large families that enjoy the outdoors, the combination of interior space and four-wheel drive is hard to beat. And if you afford the cost, the 2018 Chevy Tahoe RST saves you the need to buy a sports car for the weekend.

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST

Base price: $66,425

Price as tested: $78,155

Type: Full-size SUV

Engine: 6.2-liter V8 (420 hp, 460 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

EPA estimated mileage: 14/22

Overall length: 224.4 inches

Curb weight: 5,965 pounds

Final assembly: Arlington, Texas

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