General Motors rolled out radically re-engineered and rethought versions of a pair of its most popular and profitable vehicles Tuesday, the new 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and 2021 Chevrolet Suburban large SUVs.
In a couple of surprises, the big vehicles got even bigger and adopt a suspension Ford’s Expedition SUV has used for nearly 20 years. The result: a more comfortable ride and increased passenger and cargo space.
The two big Chevy SUVs — alongside their corporate cousins, the upcoming GMC Yukon, Yukon XL and Cadillac Escalade — account for a surreal 70% or more of the U.S. market for large SUVs, vehicles that range from workhorse vehicles towing heavy trailers to $100,000-plus luxury vehicles.
The competition for the 2021 models will only get more intense as Jeep prepares big new SUVs of its own to wrest a slice of the lucrative market from GM.
Diesel efficiency, cushy ride
New features when the SUVs go on sale in mid-2020:
- More room: The 2021 Tahoe and Suburban grow 6.7 and 1.3 inches longer, respectively. Their already expansive interiors grow huge: 10.1 inches more third-row legroom and 10.2 cubic feet more luggage space behind the Tahoe’s rear seat. The Suburban's second and third rows each gain more than two inches of legroom.
- Diesel engine: The Tahoe and Suburban will offer their first diesel, the quiet and fuel-efficient 3-liter inline-six-cylinder engine that’s already available in the Chevy Silverado pickup. None of the SUVs’ competitors — primarily the Ford Expedition and Max, Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia — offers a diesel. The engine’s fuel economy and towing capability give the Tahoe and Suburban an ace in the hole.
- Ride: In addition to the SUVs’ greater length, the 2021 models adopt an independent rear suspension, which contributes to interior space and a much smoother ride. The independent rear suspension is linked to optional adaptive shock absorbers and air springs for a smoother ride and better handling. A few laps on the ride and handling course at GM’s Milford proving ground made a strong case for a Tahoe with IRS adaptive shocks and air springs as the smoothest big SUV of its size.
- Interior features: Tahoe and Suburban options include a big 10.25-inch touch screen and a pair of 12.6-inch LCD rear screens that can play movies and offer content from passengers’ smartphones — even different programs on the two screens, the final frontier for peaceful travel on family vacations.
GM builds about 340,000 Tahoes, Suburbans, Yukons and Escalades a year in Arlington, Texas. GM invested over $1.4 billion to build the SUVs in the plant, which employs 4,800.
Like the Tahoe and Suburban, the Yukon goes on sale in mid-2020. The Escalade should follow shortly.
Due to the success of the Lincoln Navigator, which is selling for an average price of around $96,000, there’s massive pressure on the Escalade to reestablish Cadillac as maker of the best big SUV.
2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban at a glance
Large three-row rear-wheel or four-wheel-drive SUVs
Built: Arlington, Texas
3.0L straight-six diesel: 277 horsepower at 3,750 rpm; 460 pound-feet of torque at 1,500 rpm
5.3L V8: 355 hp at 5,600 rpm; 383 pound-feet at 4,100 rpm
6.2L V8: 420 hp at 5,600 rpm; 460 hopat 4,100 rpm
10-speed automatic transmission
Wheelbase: 120.9 inches
Length: 210.7 inches
Height: 75.9 inches
Width: 81 inches
Wheelbase: 134.1 inches
Length: 225.7 inches
Height: 75.7 inches
Width: 81.1 inches
Follow Detroit Free Press auto critic Mark Phelan on Twitter @mark_phelan.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: 2021 Chevy Tahoe and Suburban: GM redesigns, enlarges big SUVs