We live in a world where the SUV has ascended to unprecedented levels of popularity and practicality. Once known for their unflattering shapes and larger-than-average powertrains, they’ve been slimmed down, made sportier, and have now become the perfect option for the family-oriented consumer. With so many drastic changes that have been made, it almost seems improbable that the larger SUVs that have remained in production would somehow make a comeback that would see them once again return to the spotlight. Talk has been circulating about just such a phenomenon that will not only see the return of the large SUV to the prominence it once saw in the late 1990s and early 2000s but will also once again see the coveted “SS” badge accompany a tried and tested stalwart of the Chevy fleet.
The rumor mill has been buzzing a bit more than usual concerning the upcoming release of the 2023 Chevy Tahoe. Chevy’s full-size SUV, which started as a trim option on the S-10 Blazer, has long been the go-to vehicle for people needing storage space and towing capacity. The second-largest SUV in Chevy’s fleet, the Tahoe almost seems like a relic of a distant past. The appeal of full-size SUVs is now relegated to those who need them most. However, there is a rumor that recently inspired message boards and youtube content creators alike to ponder the possibility of the 2023 Chevy Tahoe SS. Such a move would certainly spark a great deal of interest from devotees of the bow tie brand.
The Legacy of the Super Sport
The “SS” badge, which stands for “Super Sport,” is one of the most coveted designations in the history of American automotive engineering. The origin of the iconic nameplate dates back to 1957, with the Chevy Corvette SS. The first vehicle to have the option of the SS distinction was the 1961 Chevy Impala. While selling in minimal numbers, the preceding years would be a time full of high-performance vehicles that would dominate the muscle car era. SS vehicles were usually equipped with large block V8 engines, high-grade suspensions, and stronger brakes to create a level of performance that tore up the blacktop on the track and streets in several races.
The Camaro, El Camino, Chevelle, Nova, Monte Carlo, and Impala all had this distinction that separated them from the normal offerings from GM. While the only vehicle in Chevy’s current roster to wear the badge is the Camaro, quite a few vehicles have been given the badge, as well as several high-performance features. Trucks such as the S-10 (the predecessor to the Colorado) and Silverado 1500 have had SS incarnations, and even the Trailblazer wore the badge with pride and honor for a brief time. So it’s more than plausible that the Tahoe could have its time among this legendary class.
Big Ambitions for Big SUVs
The current microchip shortage and its tight grip on production quotas have been well documented and widely discussed. Because of this, several features that many consumers want to benefit from have been limited and in short supply. Chevy isn’t known for its willingness to admit defeat in the face of adversity. Surviving the Great Depression, a crippling energy crisis, and most recently, a pandemic, the brand is not one to fall on its sword.
These hardships haven’t stopped Chevy from announcing one plan in particular for both the 2023 Tahoe and Suburban, which is to equip both vehicles with Super Cruise on the upper trim lines. Super Cruise, which is a semi-autonomous driving assistance feature, will require a decent amount of microchips and conductors, both of which are in short supply. Equipping two large SUVs with this technology is a very ambitious undertaking and one that, if Chevy can effectively pull off, will be just one more feather in its cap, which is already quite full of them.
Under the Hood and Over the Limit
It goes without any further explanation needed that any vehicle that brandishes the “SS” badge will be outfitted for high performance. The speculation then comes into play regarding what type of engine would a Tahoe SS opt to utilize. Both the Tahoe and Suburban already require powertrains that can propel the heavy weight that both vehicles possess.
Perhaps the answer to this question lies not with Chevy but with its upscale GM brethren, Cadillac. The recent announcement of the 2023 Cadillac Escalade-V piqued the interest of performance enthusiasts and GM loyalists alike. The engine that will power the new Escalade is high-performance personified. This supercharged 6.2L V8 possesses an incredible horsepower output of 682, along with the capability to generate 653 lb-ft of torque. This is the same engine that currently powers the CT5-V Blackwing. The fact that it can offer this level of power for a luxury car and a full-sized SUV is a testament to the engine’s raw capability. This beast is equipped with a ten-speed automatic transmission, which is GM’s best and also accompanies the Duramax turbocharged diesel engines found in the Silverado.
The Escalade-V will come with Super Cruise technology, the same technology that Chevy wishes to equip the Tahoe and Suburban with, so the announcement of the Tahoe SS seems very much in the realm of possibility. Similar to the kinship that Chevy shares with its sibling brand GMC, the Tahoe SS could possibly be a slightly scaled-down version of the Escalade-V, sold at a slightly cheaper starting MSRP than Cadillac’s revered luxury line of vehicles.
The Escalade-V, aside from having a supercharged engine that rivals its competitors, has a variety of high-end luxury items that come with it, such as a 16.9″ infotainment screen and a 36-speaker stereo system. Because history has a way of repeating itself, it’s likely that a Tahoe SS would forgo some of these luxury items since Chevys with the “SS” distinction have always been focused on performance, and Cadillacs have typically been more focused on luxury and comfort. Time will tell…
Pondering the Future and the Virtues of Patience
The history of the automobile is one of bold moves, innovation that defies expectation, and above all else, practicing the sometimes difficult virtue of patience. Much like the child who eagerly awaits to open up his presents on Christmas morning, the ultimate reveal of whatever Chevy has planned for the 2023 Tahoe will be well worth the wait. As we’ve seen in the past with Chevy, the brand always delivers––a trait that makes them stand out in the automotive world.
Aside from possibly delivering a product that goes against the expectations of consumers and critics alike, an “SS” Tahoe will be a massive undertaking that will speak to Chevy’s continued pursuit of excellence and the determination to bring top-tier performance to the masses hungry for horsepower. And from a historical point of view, this will be a bold new chapter in the history of Chevy’s “Super Sport.” By applying the same pedigree to a full-sized SUV, Chevy can single-handedly shift the paradigm of what a manufacturer can do as far as performance and raw power are capable of accomplishing. Chevy, we’re all waiting with anticipation for whatever you decide to do.