Callaway Tahoe Blends The Line Between Work And Play

Reeves Callaway and company have been infusing new levels of performance under the hood of already-fun cars for decades. Their first foray into the mainstream, power-hungry market was a trial-by-fire, whereas Callaway Cars worked with Chevrolet to boost the performance of C4 Corvettes with a Callaway-designed, twin-turbo system known as RPO B2K. Interestingly, Callaway has been the only company outside the Blue Box to hold the status of having its own RPO code designation by GM.

Since then, technology has increased exponentially and the Callaway team has used its knowledge and resources to keep ahead of the curve. Customers are asking more of their vehicles today than ever before. Gone are the days when one car stood for fuel mileage while the other was the talk of the town. Anything designed for a full day’s work was relegated to the backyard or the office lot when not in use.

Image: Callaway Cars

Today, the enthusiastic American driver demands vehicles that can haul in more ways than one, and manufacturers have been working hard to meet these heightened expectations. It can be argued that for comfortable, all-around, multi-purpose modes of transportation, the vehicles we enjoy today are likely the best they’ve ever been.

But what about those who still want more? That’s where companies such as Callaway lay down the welcome mat and introduce buyers to another level of fun, performance, and personalization. Bringing utility and fun together, Callaway has been supplying its line of heavy haulers with either 480 or 560 horsepower versions, enough to scoot the carried load securely against the tailgate.

Callaway supercharges both the 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter engines for increased output. Each Callaway vehicle carries its own serial number for identification as well as its own authenticity and documentation package.

Callaway is currently offering both horsepower packages for GM’s Yukon, Escalade, Suburban, and Tahoe SUVs through a select network of authorized GM dealers. Once a vehicle is ordered, GM drop-ships it from its assembly plants to a Callaway facility in Connecticut or California where the Callaway upgrades are then installed. When complete, Callaway offers a comprehensive 3-year/36,000-mile limited warranty that overlaps the factory GM warranty and covers all Callaway components and GM components that are affected by Callaway’s upgrades. Callaway even offers a 5-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain service contract to further validate their confidence in the upgrade’s durability.

What Do You Get?

We recently had a chance to put a few miles on Callaway’s SC560 Tahoe. The upscale family truckster was surprisingly sprightly, thanks to the Callaway-installed GenThree™ supercharger which prods the 6.2-liter engine to produce 560 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. Both numbers are good enough to push the Tahoe RST from 0-60 in 4.8 seconds and can keep the pace for the entire 1/4-mile, finishing off in 13.1 seconds at 107 miles per hour.

The Callaway Honker intake silently directs fresh air from outside the vehicle. The GenThree supercharger announces its arrival with a symphony of sound.

Of course, our time behind the wheel was spent out on the open highway, so top end, bonsai runs were out of the question. But, in the midst of mid-day traffic, the seamless drivability and road-handling manners of the entire package made for a worry-free commute. The fact that we could choose an opening and (safely) acquire it with ease only hinted at the performance potential found under the hood. Even so, the level at which those super-comfy seats thrust us forward and the whine from the TVS 2300 supercharger was quite intoxicating!

While the whoosh and flash capability of the Callaway SC560 will be a major selling point for many, you would be selling the entire Callaway package short if you only focused on the numbers. While we were tooling around in the Tahoe, we couldn’t help but immerse ourselves in all the creature comforts that came with the vessel direct from the factory. The additional components Callaway added to this vehicle have built upon the package, as ride quality, comfort and noise levels (save for that savory supercharger whine) were all just as the General intended, while performance has leaped forward.

With either the SC480 or SC560 Callaway package, the customer gets Callaway’s TripleCooled™ supercharger, a Honker™ cold-air-intake that is mated with Callaway’s low restriction exhaust to keep the airflow moving. There are also carbon engine covers with either SC480 or SC560 emblems, embroidered floor mats, Callaway key fobs, as well as Callaway-specific badging on both the exterior and interior surfaces. An under-hood plaque includes the vehicle’s specific identification number and each Callaway vehicle comes with its own authenticity and documentation package to denote the exclusive right of each vehicle to wear the Callaway badge.

Beyond Basic

While it could be said the standard Callaway SC480 and SC560 packages go well beyond the rank and file SUVs on any given show floor, the folks at Callaway know that personalization is what separates the best from the rest. That is why they offer many upgrades to further tailor your ride to your driving style.

The interior of the Tahoe is beyond comfortable from the factory and receives the necessary Callaway plaque, embroidered floor mats, and key fobs. Customers can choose to include Callaway’s sport interior group, a sport steering wheel, and Callaway’s own pedal package.

Customers can further upgrade their vehicle’s handling through the optional Callaway handling package, which lowers the vehicle 2-inches in the front and three in the rear. The vehicle retains the original MagneRide dampers and front springs but gets shorter, increased-rate rear springs. Lower front spindles and larger-diameter front and rear anti-roll bars are included in the package, engineered to increase roll-stiffness without affecting ride quality.

If you want to match the vehicle’s 60-0 to its acceleration, Callaway also offers its LeMans GT brake package, which upgrades all the stopper discs at each corner to jewel-like products that work equally well. The center hats and calipers are finished in a striking, bright nickel plating for long-term resistance against the elements and the slotted rotors are zinc-coated to prevent an unsightly appearance outside of the friction area.

Another benefit of the brake upgrade, both front and rear six-piston calipers are CNC-profile machined to reduce excess material, making them 4.5 lbs. lighter than the stock calipers, reducing unsprung mass for improved handling. To wrap around those super-stoppers, Callaway also offers either nine-spoke (20-inch) wheels or a massive 22-inch, 10-spoke variant, which was worn by the Tahoe we were driving.

There are also special touches available in the interior of each Callaway SUV package designed to fit perfectly with the upscale accouterments already available through America’s best-selling family of full-size SUVs. On top of the premium stitching and leather seating, customers can choose to include Callaway’s sport interior group, a sport steering wheel, and Callaway’s own pedal package. These all blend together to build a package that stands out from the crowd when still and pulls away with authority when merited.

When You Gotta Work!

Everybody knows you can’t stay at Disneyland forever. At some point, you need to get some work done. That’s where the Callaway SC packages help carry the vessel from good to great. The base Tahoe features a 5.3L V8 engine that, in stock form, makes 355 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque. The SUV already has an impressive maximum towing capability of up to 8,600 pounds. When you combine that with a best-in-class, V8 fuel efficiency offering of 22 MPG highway it’s easy to see how a Callaway Tahoe could be your go-to vehicle to get things done. Callaway adding the supercharger doesn’t affect the engine’s operation or fuel mileage unless you can’t control your right foot.

When The Goin’ Gets Rough

For those who prefer to go over things instead of around them, Callaway has introduced its new Rough Terrain Package, which transforms the SC480 and SC560 packages into a severe-duty, off-road powerhouse. Offered for new Callaway Tahoes, Suburbans, Yukons, Yukon XLs, Escalades and Escalade ESVs with 480 or 560 horsepower, the package increases front ride height and consists of specific Callaway Rough Terrain Dampers, Callaway 20-inch flow-forged wheels and 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac® tires which come with a 6-Year/50,000-Mile tread life warranty from Goodyear.

Ride height is increased and meaty Goodyear tires are kept on the ground by Callaway Rough Terrain shock absorbers.

All Callaway cars and SUVs are up-fit at Callaway factories and sold by select GM dealers across North America. They are equipped with a 3-year/36,000-mile Callaway warranty that supplements the GM factory warranty and serviced by GM dealerships nationwide. More information is found on Callaway’s website.

Need a little more power? GM offers the uncompromising strength of an available 6.2L V8 engine. In stock form, it produces 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. This variant is the base for the Callaway’s SC560 package and mated to GM’s 10-speed automatic transmission.

The Callaway SC560 package ensures there's plenty of go. The optional, jewel-like Callaway LeMans GT brake package brings the whoa! Our Tahoe was fitted with the 10-spoke, black-chrome wheels, but not the GT brakes.

Our Tahoe had enough seating to rate it as a small bus, with enough room to stretch out and not worry about getting into the bubble gum that is invariably stuck on the backs of any conventional bus seating. We’re thinking with so much room, gobs of power, and a hefty tow-hitch, the Callaway SC560 may make the perfect show-tower! It’ll tow the trailer carrying your track star or trophy troller and once you get to where you’re going, you have the choice whether to unload the “other car” or simply have at it with the Callaway!  The best part is you’ll have that option. But be aware, when the line between work and play gets this fine, ratchet straps may become too much of a burden.

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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