December used to be a big month for the auto industry. Manufacturers would field questions and leak details about all-new models set to premiere the following month at the Detroit Auto Show. However, this past December was a different story. The 2020 Detroit Auto Show was moved from January to June.
Fortunately for gearheads, GM stepped in and filled the void. The automaker pulled the wraps off the all-new 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban back in early December. Both full-size SUVs are bigger, feature new engines, new suspensions, and much more tech. We’ll have more on the new Suburban soon. For now, continue reading to learn more about the 2021 Chevy Tahoe.
What’s New Under the Hood
The base engine in the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe is a 5.3-liter V-8 making 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. That’s the same as the previous model. Consumers can also opt for a 6.2-liter V-8 rated at 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, which is also a carryover from the previous-gen Tahoe. Both V-8s are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, as is the all-new 3.0-liter inline-six Duramax diesel engine.
That’s right, the 2021 Tahoe is available with a turbocharged diesel engine. That engine is rated at 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. According to Chevy, the 2021 Tahoe and Suburban are the only full-size SUVs in the United States to offer a diesel engine. Chevrolet hasn’t released estimated fuel economy numbers for the 2021 Tahoe just yet. However, each V-8 should receive a slight bump at the pump now that a 10-speed automatic transmission comes standard.
According to the EPA, the most fuel-efficient 5.3-liter V8 Tahoe on the market currently averages 15/22/18 mpg (city, highway, combined). The 6.3-liter V8 equipped with the 10-speed auto checks in at 14/17/23 mpg. We expect the 2021 Tahoe to post gains of around 1 to 2 mpg across the board. The diesel engine should be as fuel-efficient, if not more so, than the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado, which packs the same diesel and transmission combination. It averages an impressive 23/27/33 mpg.
In addition to a new engine and transmission, the 2021 Tahoe also rides on a new independent rear suspension. Yes, the old model still had a solid rear axle. The switch to IRS should lead to a smoother ride and better handling. Unfortunately, a smoother ride will come at the expense of towing capabilities, since solid rear axles are better suited to towing. Chevrolet hasn’t released the Tahoe’s tow rating yet, but TheFastLaneTruck.com estimates that it’ll match or surpass the towing capacity of its chief rival, the 2020 Ford Expedition. The Expedition tops out at a max tow of 9,300 pounds.
What’s New Inside: More Space And Standard Tech
If the new Tahoe looks longer, that’s because it is. The SUV sits on a new platform, which has increased the length of its wheelbase by 4.9 inches and its total length by 6.7 inches. The Tahoe is also 5.3 inches lower to the ground thanks to its new independent rear suspension. All of this means there’s more space inside for cargo and passengers.
Cargo space behind the third row of seats is up a whopping 10 cubic feet. With both the second and third rows of seats folded, there’s 123 cubic feet of total cargo space on tap. That’s an increase of 28 cubic feet over previous models. Passengers in the third row of seats will see an increase of 10 inches of legroom. The middle row of seats can slide forward and backward for the first time (seriously), up to 10 inches. That should allow for everyone to find the sweet spot for leg room.
Along with a roomier interior, the 2021 Tahoe also features new tech. All trim levels come equipped with a 10-inch infotainment screen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and a Wi-Fi hotspot. An 8-inch diagonal gauge cluster and 15-inch heads-up display are also available, as are two 12.6-inch rear-seat screens. The rear screens can send points of interest from the navigation system to the front screen and mirror content from Android devices.
Standard safety and driver-assist technology are aplenty in the Tahoe. Highlights include automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, front pedestrian alert, rear park assist, and trailer hitch guidance. Optional safety and driver-assist technologies include a surround-view camera, rear pedestrian alert, lane-keep assist, and blind-spot monitoring.
What’s New At The Trim Level: Double The Choices
The 2021 Tahoe comes in six different trim levels, which is double the amount offered on the current model. The LS, LT, and Premier trims all return. They are joined by the RST, the Z71, and High Country. The RST, which was formerly an appearance package, is based on the LT Tahoe and features black chrome exterior trim, 22-inch chrome wheels and trim-specific stitched seating. The Z71 is designed for weekend warriors who like to do a bit of off-roading after their grocery runs are complete. This trim comes standard with four-wheel drive (featuring Chevy’s hill descent control technology), 20-inch wheels and all-terrain tires, and a front skid plate.
The High Country is the new top-tier trim, slotting in above the Premier. It comes standard with a bunch of bells and whistles, including Magnetic Ride Control (an advanced damper system designed for a smoother ride), surround vision camera, and embroidered seats. The High Country is one of two trims (the Z71 is the other) that can be had with an adaptive air suspension system that automatically lowers the Tahoe by three-quarters of an inch at highway speeds to increase fuel economy. Drivers can also lower the suspension two inches to make it easier for passengers to enter the car. Alternately, they can raise the height by up to two inches while off-roading in 4WD.
Pricing has not been announced yet for the 2021 Tahoe. However, we assume the base LS model will come in right around $50,000. This estimate is based on the current-gen Tahoe LS’ MSRP of $49,000. Given that it’ll sit above the Premier, which currently starts at $63,000, we don’t expect the range-topping High Country to come cheap. In fact, it’s not impossible that Chevy will ask anywhere from $65,000 to $70,000 for the High Country Tahoe, depending on the engine under the hood.
Final Thoughts: Chevy Might Have Another Hit On Its Hands
Despite the fact that its sales were down 2.8% on the year, the Tahoe was still the best-selling full-size SUV in America with a total of 101,189 units sold. The Ford Expedition was a distant second with 86,422 units moved. The Tahoe’s sales dominance isn’t a new phenomenon, either. From 2010 to 2020, over 900,000 Tahoes were driven off of dealer lots. With the 2021 model, it looks like Chevy’s dominance in the full-size SUV segment will continue.
In fact, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the new Tahoe is a flop. Unless it’s price tag is insanely high, it seems a given that buyers will flock to an all-new SUV that’s roomier on the inside, sexier on the outside, better on gas, and full of advanced technology and safety features. If you’re considering purchasing a full-size SUV, do yourself a favor and wait until mid-2020 when the Tahoe makes its way onto dealer lots.