- Chevrolet's Tahoe and Suburban full-size SUVs are all new for 2021 and look much like the latest Silverado 1500 pickup truck.
- The biggest change is to the rear suspension, which adopts a new independent setup that increases interior space dramatically.
- The 2021 Tahoe and Suburban are scheduled to go on sale in mid-2020.
Big SUVs are big business for General Motors, and the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban are getting even bigger thanks to a comprehensive redesign for 2021. These full-size SUVs also benefit from a new independent rear suspension (IRS), which is a big deal because it makes for bigger cargo space and bigger third-row seats (okay, we'll stop now). The 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V-8 engines are upgraded for this new generation and there is a newly available turbo-diesel 3.0-liter inline-six engine—the only one you'll find in the full-size SUV segment.
Based on the same platform as Chevrolet's latest Silverado 1500 pickup, the Tahoe and Suburban distinguish themselves by swapping that truck's live axle and leaf springs for an independent rear multilink suspension setup with coil springs. This helps lower the floor of the vehicles, which creates more room in both the cargo area and the second- and third-row seats. These SUVs' chief rival, the Ford Expedition, has had an IRS for a while now, so it has offered significantly more interior space than the current Tahoe and Suburban. Chevy also claims that the IRS will improve the Tahoe and Suburban's ride and handling, and we had a brief ride in prototype vehicles that suggested there will be an uptick in refinement in agility. There are also multiple suspension upgrades available, including magnetorheological dampers and air springs with four inches of height adjustability.
Sized for Success
Compared to their predecessors, the new Tahoe and Suburban also get a wheelbase stretch of 4.9 inches for the Tahoe and 4.1 inches for the Suburban. The difference in size between the two shrinks somewhat, as the new Suburban is 15 inches longer overall than the new Tahoe and the old Suburban was a whole 20.4 inches longer than the old Tahoe.
This size increase, along with the new suspension setup, makes for significantly more cargo space and rear-seat room. This is especially true in the Tahoe: it now offers 26 cubic feet of space behind the third row, up from 15 cubic feet, and 34.9 inches of third-row legroom, a whopping 10-inch uptick. While the slightly smaller Tahoe benefits most from the increased size and new suspension setup, the Suburban's gains are somewhat more modest. It gains 2.0 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row and 2.2 inches of third-row legroom. Both trucks have a few inches of additional legroom in the second row, too, which is available with a three-place bench or two-place captain's chairs and can now slide back and forth on a 10-inch track.
Duramax Diesel Joins the Lineup
A diesel engine is an interesting addition to the lineup, and it's the same turbo-diesel 3.0-liter inline-six found in the Silverado. Here, it makes 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, and it could achieve a 30-mpg highway EPA fuel-economy rating if it can come close to the Silverado's numbers. We found this engine to be smooth and quiet in our testing of a four-wheel-drive crew-cab Silverado, and it achieved a 26-mpg result in our 75-mph highway fuel-economy loop. The Duramax will be optional on all Tahoe and Suburban trim levels except for the off-road-focused Z71.
The base engine remains a 5.3-liter V-8; it produces the same 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque as before but now has a more sophisticated cylinder-deactivation system and an engine stop/start feature. The more powerful 6.2-liter V-8, which comes standard on the top High Country trim level, gets the same upgraded cylinder-deactivation system and start/stop and makes the same 420 hp and 460 lb-ft as before. A 10-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board, and rear-wheel drive will be standard with all-wheel drive optional. Chevy has not yet released towing figures for these new 2021 models.
Chevy is going all out with digital displays inside the new Tahoe and Suburban. A 10.0-inch touchscreen is standard equipment, while optional screens include a digital gauge cluster, a large color head-up display, and dual 12.6-inch entertainment screens for the second and third rows. These rear-seat entertainment screens can also send content back and forth to each other, and the front touchscreen can mirror the display from an Android smartphone.
The interior design itself is more different from the Silverado than we were expecting. An unusual pushbutton shifter sits high on the dashboard to the left of the large infotainment screen, and the arrangement of the air vents and HVAC controls are unique to the SUVs and not shared with their pickup siblings.
The LS, LT, RST, Z71, and Premier trim levels will carry over from before, with the RST getting a few sporty-ish appearance tweaks and the Z71 getting off-road equipment such as standard all-wheel drive, all-terrain tires, and a skid plate. The top High Country model is new for the Tahoe and Suburban and includes the bigger V-8 along with more equipment, different badging, a different grille, and plusher interior trim pieces.
Pricing has not yet been announced, but it will likely rise a few thousand dollars compared with the current Tahoe and Suburban models. The new 2021 Chevy Tahoe and Suburban will go on sale in mid-2020.
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