It’s not often that an e-mail from Chevrolet comes across my inbox. I mean, I’m the editor of pbskids – I watch videos of modified Nissans and Toyotas all day, go to car shows and track events on the weekends, and fantasize about building 2JZ-powered project cars. So an invitation to visit Las Vegas to test the ’18 Chevrolet Tahoe was the last thing I’d ever expect to get invited to. But for some reason, the folks at Chevy had an adventure planned that a guy like me could relate to and appreciate. I wouldn’t just be driving Chevy’s newly stripped-down Tahoe Custom, but also hauling a pair of turbocharged Polaris RZR Side-by-Sides to the desert for an off-road experience I’d never forget. And I have the broken camera to prove it!
First things first, let's talk about the Tahoe and why you should care. The Chevy Tahoe’s been around since the early-‘90s and has been a popular SUV of choice for families ever since. There’s plenty of seating and underneath the sheets of metal is a chassis/powertrain combo that’s designed for towing. Its towing capability is really what makes it resonate with hardcore car enthusiasts like us who need a support vehicle that’s comfortable and capable of taking our show ‘n track cars the distance. What’s cool about the new Custom edition is that Chevy deleted the third row of seating–meaning it’s not intended for soccer moms, but more for adventure seekers that can utilize 54 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row. The Custom edition was also stripped of pricey features such as the leather interior, heated/ventilated seats, 20-inch wheels, and hands-free power liftgate (time to use your muscles). Options like these can easily hike the price of the Tahoe up to the $60,000 range. But don’t worry, you still get things like the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple Car Play and Android Auto capabilities, and enough USB and power outlets to keep your phones and GoPros charged. The result is a much more affordable Tahoe with a starting MSRP of $44,995 – that’s $3,750 less than the previous base model.
The overall package and price of the Tahoe Custom looked legit on paper, so now it was time for me to fly to Las Vegas and see how it’d perform. With a pair of Polaris RZRs on a trailer out back, I set out from the Vegas strip to the desert dunes of Jean, Nevada – a short 30-mile trip. The RZRs plus trailer tipped the scale at just under 5,000 lbs., which is more than what most project cars would weigh, and is well under the 6,600 lbs. of towing capacity of the Tahoe Custom (Note: There’s also a Max Trailering Package available that bumps up capacity to 8,600 lbs.) I maneuvered the Tahoe through traffic on the strip, and even got the Tahoe up to 80mph on the I-15 freeway. Let’s just say I was surprised how poised and comfortable it was. I was most impressed by the power (355hp 5.3L V8), which had plenty of juice despite the added load.
All in all, the ride comfort was quite smooth and everything from the acceleration to the braking was effortless, just like driving any full-size SUV or truck. There was a little bit of excessive body roll but it’s not like I’d be taking turns at full speed while transporting precious cargo anyway. The Tahoe Custom is a great bang for your buck support vehicle, and I wouldn’t think twice about towing our own project cars across the country with it. Sigh... It would have saved me a lot of headaches on my last road trip from LA to Seattle!
How I actually broke my camera...
I love getting behind the wheel of anything fast and fun, whether Japanese or Euro, lifted or lowered. So when Chevy extended an invitation to me to not only check out their new Tahoe Custom but also a pair of off-road Side-by-Sides from Polaris, I cleared my schedule and hopped on the next flight to Vegas!
I’m no expert when it comes to UTVs but I knew I was ready to go fast ‘n’ get dirty. The RZR XP Turbo DYNAMIX edition that Polaris had ready for me is all-wheel drive (just 6 percent slip), has 168hp (the most power in their lineup and more than enough when it only weighs 1,500 lbs.), and features something called Dynamix Active Suspension–meaning the suspension monitors vehicle and driver inputs hundreds of times per second to keep my bum from bouncing up and down while flying through the Mojave Desert.
I strapped myself into the RZR XP Turbo like a kid getting on a rollercoaster for the first time and took off at full speed, sliding through every corner I could and trying to catch air on every little hill and bump. By the end of the day, a thick film of dirt covered my whole body from head to toe, but then it dawned on me that my backpack was missing. It had flown out of the vehicle somewhere along the journey without me even noticing. Luckily, there was another Side-by-Side several paces behind me that spotted my backpack on the trail; however, the damage had been done. My Canon 5D and 16-35mm lens were in shambles. I guess I’m way overdue for a camera upgrade, but nonetheless, I’ll always have a souvenir from one of the most fun and unforgettable experiences I’ve had as an editor - it just so happened to be off the beaten path with Chevrolet and Polaris, who knew I’d have a shit ton of fun.