The new GM T1XX platform SUVs—Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon/Yukon XL, Cadillac Escalade/Escalade ESV—are by and large pretty sweet. Emphasis on large. The point is, these new three-row mega-yachts from the General are good, solid trucks. Though they could use more power.
Am I saying that the LT1 V-8’s 420 horses aren’t enough? Well, yeah, obviously it isn’t—remember the difference between needs and wants. Moreover, last time I checked, this is America. Who are you to tell me how much power my three-ton SUV needs? With that in mind, check out what our most excellent source, Deep Burble, is telling us: GM will be offering supercharged versions of these three SUVs, most likely as a dealer-installed option. How much power? We’d guess another 200 hp or so, for a total of between 600 and 625.
Next question: Does the above make any sense? I am 100 percent confident there’s a market for more powerful SUVs—and maybe 110 percent for the Caddy. German, and to a lesser extent British, carmakers have proved that huge horsepower SUVs sell, as have the folks at the recently-formed Stellantis. The more than 700-hp Jeep Trackhawk and Dodge Durango Hellcat are not only cool, but people are buying them.
The dealer-installed part of the souped-up Tahoe/Yukon/Escalade deal troubles me, but I suppose it’s possible, especially if GM has been planning for it. So, I reached out to the man who has installed and upgraded more superchargers on GM products than (probably) anyone: John Hennessey of Hennessey Performance fame. As is always the case in my experience, the Texan tuner (and now hypercar manufacturer) had something interesting to say.
“GM locked their SUV ECUs for the 2020-2021 6.2-liter V-8. We can’t tune them,” he told me. And it gets more interesting: “We are able to upgrade 2020-2021 6.2-liter GM [pickup] trucks.”
Parsing that, the SUVs, which are rumored to be getting a supercharger option, are not tunable. The trucks—Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra—are able to be tuned. A conspiratorial mind could surmise that GM is staking out its hot-SUV turf ahead of time, keeping tuners’ hands off of its full-size SUV engines so it can leap into the space with its own power upgrades.
That’s a pretty big red flashing light, no? I went back and asked Deep Burble if the pickup trucks were getting this rumored supercharger. They said, “It was for this new gen of SUVs. Not sure about the pickup trucks.” Deep Burble went on to say that the pandemic has stalled things, changed things, and has made the spy game more difficult.
To wrap it all up, it sounds like some sort of performance package is coming for GM’s new full-size SUVs. More power, better brakes, etc. This package could come from the factory or it could come by way of a dealer install. We know it’s not being done by say the Cadillac V team of engineers. Either way, General Motors is locking tuners out of the big SUV game, and we think we know the reason why.
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