Chevrolet’s largest SUVs are completely overhauled for 2021, all-new models that are also larger than ever. The Chevrolet Tahoe (standard wheelbase) and Chevrolet Suburban (stretched wheelbase) are what make the bow-tie brand the top seller in a segment with few non-GM players, most notably the Ford Expedition. Count the Toyota Sequoia and Nissan Armada as competitors as well, at least with the Tahoe.
We’ve been expecting new Chevrolet SUVs ever since GM updated its full-size pickup trucks in 2019. Based on the same architecture underpinning the Chevrolet Silverado (and GMC Sierra), the new SUVs roll out next summer. We’ll see new GMC Yukon/Yukon XL and Cadillac Escalade/Escalade ESV models as well. Production output for all three brands is handled at GM’s manufacturing plant in Arlington, Texas, which is under renovation to accommodate the new and larger models.
There is a lot to digest about the new Chevrolet models, so we’ll explore the three main highlights.
1. A new rear suspension.
The most significant change for the Tahoe and Suburban isn’t the larger size, roomier cabin or expanded storage space, although the latter two benefit from the new independent rear suspension. Gone is the live axle and leaf springs currently used, exchanged for an independent rear multilink suspension arrangement with coil springs. As a result, Chevrolet lowers the floor of its two large SUVs, which supplies additional cargo room and more space for the second- and third-row passengers.
The benefits of the new suspension system include superior ride and handling. It’s also beneficial for off-roading as this setup allows vehicles to flex better. True, you’re not likely to take either the Tahoe or Suburban on tough trails navigated by the Jeep Wrangler, but you should see improved movement on sandy surfaces.
2. Bigger and roomier.
How much larger are the two Chevrolet SUVs? The 2021 Tahoe will sit on a 120.9 wheelbase, up from 116 inches. Its overall length measures 210.7 inches, compared to the current 204 inches.
As for the Chevy Suburban, it’ll ride on a 134.1-inch wheelbase, up from 130 inches. Its overall length grows to 225.7 inches, up from 224.4 inches. Thus, the difference between the Tahoe and Suburban narrows slightly with the new model.
Inside, the cargo space increases appreciably, to a total of 122.9 cubic feet in the Tahoe and 144.7 cubic feet in the Suburban. One of the most significant changes in the Tahoe’s it its standard cargo space which measures 25.5 cubic feet behind the third row, up from the scant 15.3 cubic feet currently offered.
Another area where the Tahoe shines is with its third-row legroom. The current model offers just 24.8 inches and that’s suitable only for children. For 2021, the space measures 34.9 inches, which is tolerable for most adults. That’s also near the 36.7 inches offered by the Suburban.
3. Three engine choices.
Every Tahoe and Suburban model except for the High Country come with a 5.3-liter V8 engine. The standard engine makes 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. As for the High Country, it gets a 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. The third engine choice is a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6 engine, making 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. All three work with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
While the two gas engines are well known, the diesel is new to the product line and a first for the segment. It’s a niche engine for Chevrolet, one that could help the automaker improve its fuel economy ratings, especially if the highway numbers approach 30 mpg.
We haven’t driven the new Chevrolets yet, but on paper, the 2021 models offer compelling updates that should interest consumers. The current models start at $49,000 (Tahoe) and $51,700 (Suburban), plus the freight cost. We expect a cost increase and we soon know just how much the turbo-diesel option adds to it.
Photos copyright GM Corp.