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Published: 03/13/2013 - by Mike Magrath, Features Editor
This time of year, the air dripping from the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains is cold and clean, and this early in the morning it brings an unnatural silence to the industrial heart of Fontana, California. It's lovely, but fleeting. This town's new alarm clock is a tick-tock from detonation.
Idling near-silently at the edge of 3,300 feet of arrow-straight pavement, a 701-horsepower, 7.0-liter 2013 SLP Chevy Tahoe 700hp Supercharged Sport Edition is about to rip this day a new one.
Complicate and Add Displacement
At first blush the 2013 Chevy Tahoe is an odd place to start a tuner project. According to the specs, the stock seven-passenger Tahoe stands 6.5 feet tall, weighs nearly 3 tons and evokes all of the sportiness of a Hometown Buffet. But enthusiasts come in all shapes and sizes, and have all manner of interests that extend beyond the sphere of straight-up performance cars.
Neither Porsche, AMG nor BMW's M Division think the guy who has everything is going to settle for a stock family hauler or a weak-sauce boat puller. New Jersey-based GM performance specialists SLP doesn't either. The 2013 SLP Chevy Tahoe 700hp Supercharged Sport Edition isn't meant to replace anyone's Camaro, Chevelle or SLP ZL610 Corvette. Rather, it's meant to sit beside them.
From the factory, the 2013 Chevy Tahoe comes with a stout 5.3-liter V8 making a respectable 320 hp and 335 pound-feet of torque. But 300 hp isn't cool. You know what is cool? 700 hp. In this case, such gratuity starts with an all-aluminum big-block LS7.
SLP then hand-builds each one with forged internals and ditches the Z06's dry-sump lubrication system for a traditional oil pan. And because a built LS7 barely moves the insane-o-meter, SLP tops it off with a TVS 2300 high-output supercharger for a total output of 701 hp at 5,900 rpm and 678 lb-ft of torque at 5,170 rpm.
The LS7, SLP says, is not only more affordable than the factory-blown LSA or LS9, but is a proven workhorse that responds well to supercharging in terms of both output and reliability. Also, it's bigger.
Power. Weight, Too
The 7.0-liter starts and idles with all of the fuss of the truck's original engine. The 295/40R22 Michelin Latitude Tour HP tires are bigger than stock, sure. But they're simple, off-the-shelf rubber that doesn't break the bank. The transmission is a six-speed automatic. And the loud pedal is on the right.
Drop the hammer and, sonically, the world ends. The noise is part gear whine, part belt whir and part raucous honk of SLP's optional exhaust. From the outside the sound is shocking, terrifying, abrasive and unpleasant. And it wouldn't pass sound regs at any track in the country.
There's no arguing with the results, though. Flat-foot it and 60 mph arrives in 4.8 seconds (4.5 with 1 foot of rollout as on a drag strip). That's a tenth slower than the mighty Chevy Camaro ZL1 convertible and twice as easy to achieve. Wheelspin is only an issue if you want it to be. Beyond that, this is an exercise in sacking up and letting the transmission do its business.
Keep the pedal down through the auditory assault and the 5,781-pound SLP Tahoe crosses the quarter-mile mark in 13.1 seconds at 105 mph. The Russian meteor had less kinetic energy.
Brembo to the Rescue
While that speed-to-mass ratio is impressive, acceleration is the easiest performance nut to crack. Getting back to a safe zero mph is a different story. Playing Sisyphus to the 7.0-liter's boulder are a pair of 15-inch Brembo brake rotors with six-piston fixed calipers up front and four-pot units in back.
While this $9,995 expenditure may seem spendy, we assure you it's cheaper than trying to fish a Tahoe out of the Pacific. Like all GM trucks, the pedal travel is long to assist with the rigors of towing (the truck's 8,200-pound factory tow rating remains), but the fade resistance is incredible. The Tahoe stopped from 60 mph in 123 feet on our test track and felt like it would do that number for hours on our favorite mountain roads.
Turning, however, is a different story. Even with the Sport Suspension package ($1,595), which drops ride height by 2 inches, the SLP Tahoe still drives like, well, a Tahoe. It turns both left and right, but isn't enthusiastic about either. Its 60.5-mph slalom pass makes it slightly faster than the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450. And at 0.81g around the skid pad it's considerably better than the last Mercedes-Benz GL550 we tested (0.76g).
The Subtle, Safe Choice
Unlike so many tuner cars, the SLP Tahoe distinctly lacks desperate cosmetic bids for attention. Save for a few badges, optional side skirts and some embroidered headrests, which we're sure SLP would gladly eliminate, the SLP Tahoe is cosmetically bone-stock.
So is its warranty. Almost.
The $33,495 700hp Sport package (in addition to the cost of the Tahoe) comes with a three-year/36,000-mile engine/supercharger warranty, and the non-powertrain components installed by SLP also carry a three/36,000. Thanks to SLP's close and long-standing relationship with GM, warranty issues are addressed by your local GM dealer and not in Jersey. Anything not touched by SLP is still covered by GM.
Who says gratuity can't come with a safety margin?
And while SLP's warranty oversees your personal liability, any measure of social responsibility is wholly ignored. During 700 test miles we averaged 11.7 mpg, with a worst tank of 10.4 mpg (city driving) and a best of 16.4 mpg (mixed). Thankfully, there's a 26-gallon tank.
The $100,000 Understatement
Probably the only truly gaudy feature of the 2013 SLP Chevy Tahoe 700hp Sport Edition, besides its ridiculously long name, is its optional 22-inch chrome wheels. Given its power and performance, even the as-tested price of $105,360 feels tolerable.
While the premise of a 700-hp SUV is silly, the demand is real. There's no shortage of six-figure, high-power offerings from full-line manufacturers, and the list just keeps growing. This much power in a family hauler isn't strictly necessary, mind you, but like any power tool, it makes the job easier and more fun.
Which six-figure SUV do you want in your driveway?
The choices are plenty: There's a host of powerful-if-sterile Germans, a buttoned-up Brit or this blown, ear-crushing American thunderwagon.
Don't fall in line. Bring the noise.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
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