Everyone has been waiting to see what GM would do with the all-new 2021 Suburban and Tahoe. Would it skimp to make it cheaper? Would it load it with so many unnecessary features the price would be unattainable? What about borrowing the Silverado front end? It has been so poorly received would GM get the Suburban and Tahoe right by doing their own front ends? What about diesel options? And finally, in the end, would the Suburban and Tahoe still ride like the truck foundation they are built on? Sit down and grab some popcorn because we have those answers and more.
Tonight at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit Chevy unveiled the 2021 Tahoe and Suburban. Before you scream in pain or delight there’s the good you can’t see and, well, the bad that you can. Honestly, the good is more interesting so let’s go there first.
Completely new frame and independent rear suspension
Everything starts with a foundation, and the Suburban/Tahoe frames are completely new and are not shared with their pickup siblings. That’s news, but there’s more. The rear suspension is fully independent. The advantage of the independent is obvious, but in creating a unique frame Chevy was able to lower the floor for better seating including almost a foot more legroom for third-row passengers. This is always a bit compromised but 10 extra inches from the previous version is a lot.
The wheelbases of each are also longer for a better ride and driving dynamics plus added cargo space. This also changes the exterior proportions for a subtle but unique look and feel to both models. For the Tahoe, the wheelbase has been extended five-inches. Cargo capacity has increased almost 30-cubic feet from the previous Tahoe. The Suburban has an added four-plus inches of wheelbase with an additional 23 cubic feet of cargo space from its previous version. So ride, handling, seating, and cargo space have all been vastly improved from last year’s Suburban/Tahoe.
Clean-sheet Duramax inline-six turbo diesel
The big news for engines is the all-new Duramax turbo-diesel hooked to a 10-speed automatic that features electronic shift control. The diesel is an inline-six rated at 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. No other full-size SUV has a diesel option. You can expect some significant fuel economy numbers from this combo.
The block is aluminum while the cylinder liners are iron. The crankshaft is forged with silicon/aluminum pistons for better heat resistance and less reciprocating mass.
Two big V8s are also available with lots of technology for economy
Naturally, there are V8 options. A 5.3-liter V8 with 355 hp is standard on most models. An optional 6.2-liter V8 packs 420 hp. Advanced fuel management technology and cylinder deactivation give the smoothest power with the best economy. Stop/start technology has been combined with direct injection and variable valve timing.
The suspension is also big news. The rear is an independent multi-link setup with both Air Ride Adaptive suspension for automatic load-leveling and ride-height adjustment; and Magnetic Ride Control which uses automatic damping to see the road and make minute adjustments. These technologies vastly improve handling and body roll, something these big SUVs are known for. The ride and handling are said to be quite responsive.
Too many safety features so you’ll get a list for now
The available safety features we can only list for now, but we’ll get into these in a separate post. They are: Side-impact airbags, HD rear vision camera, automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, following distance indicator, front pedestrian braking, rear park assist, Intellibeam automatic headlight control, hitch guidance for trailering, HD surround vision, rear pedestrian alert, lane change alert, side blind zone alert, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, front and rear park assist, head-up display.
Displays for connectivity include a standard 10-inch touchscreen, a configurable 8-inch color instrument and information cluster, a 4.2-inch color driver info center, a 15-inch head-up display, rear seat media package with dual 12.6-inch screens. Wifi, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, USB ports, wireless charging and more are all accounted for.
About that face…
As for the front end design, yeah, it’s from the pickups. That is unfortunate, but there will be six distinct trims available so let’s hope that some or most of them disguise through color or configuration the front design. It’s unfortunate that the Suburban and Tahoe are saddled with the faces since GM has had over a year’s worth of negative feedback. LED headlights and taillights will give exceptional lighting as we’ve seen in IIHS testing.
Standard wheels come in at 18-inches but there are optional 20- and 22-inch wheels available.
Initially, nine new colors will be offered over six distinct time levels. Chevy is promising better interior materials, and has included an optional panoramic sunroof for some added drama.
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