Trucks & SUVs

The 2021 Chevy Tahoe Is More Refined Than Ever

The current-gen Chevy Tahoe can hold its own against other popular SUVs, like the Toyota 4Runner and Honda Pilot. Nevertheless, both it and its larger Chevrolet Suburban platform-mate were due for an update. And the two SUVs’ received a substantial one for the 2021 model year, both inside and out.

2021 Chevy Tahoe and Suburban: what’s new

A red 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe drives on a city's highway at night
2021 Chevrolet Tahoe | Chevrolet

The 2021 Chevy Tahoe and Suburban offer some of the same engines as their 2020 counterparts, Autoblog reports. The base engine is a 5.3-liter V8, rated at 355 hp and 383 lb-ft, while the High Country has a 6.2-liter V8, which makes 420 hp and 460 lb-ft.

2021 Chevrolet Suburban
2021 Chevrolet Suburban | Chevrolet

RELATED: What’s the Biggest Difference Between the New Chevy Tahoe and Suburban?

However, for 2021, these engines have upgraded cylinder deactivation, and a 10-speed automatic instead of a 6-speed, Motor Trend reports. As a result, although the 2021 Chevy Tahoe is heavier than the 2020 model, its 0-60 time is 0.5 seconds faster. Also, both SUVs now offer a 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbodiesel, producing 277 hp and 460 lb-ft, MT reports.

2021 Chevrolet Suburban chassis with Air Ride adaptive suspension
2021 Chevrolet Suburban chassis with Air Ride adaptive suspension | Chevrolet

The biggest changes, though, are due to Chevrolet giving the Tahoe and Suburban independent rear suspension. IRS takes up less space than a solid rear axle, Car and Driver explains. As a result, both SUVs have a lower floor, more rear legroom, and more rear cargo space. Though to be fair, that’s partially because the IRS let Chevy make the Tahoe larger externally, too, Roadshow reports.

The 2021 Chevy Tahoe's interior and rear cargo area, with the 2nd- and 3rd-row seats folded
2021 Chevrolet Tahoe cargo area and interior | Chevrolet

RELATED: Do You Need The Chevy Suburban Or Chevy Tahoe?

Along with the extra interior space, the Tahoe and Suburban also have updated interiors. Besides new materials, the SUVs come standard with 10.2” touchscreens, which can be paired with a 15” heads-up display. The base Chevy Tahoe comes standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keeping assist. Adaptive cruise control is an optional extra, but all Tahoes except the base model get wireless charging as standard, Autotrader reports.

What’s good about the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban?

There’s a lot to like about the 2021 Chevy Tahoe and Suburban. Although neither makes more power than their 2020 counterparts, the new 10-speed automatic makes a big difference, MT reports.

RELATED: Will a 3rd Row SUV Fit in My Garage?

The Tahoe’s 3rd-row seats are significantly more comfortable for adult passengers, Car and Driver reports. With the optional air springs and magnetorheological dampers, the new IRS provides a comfortable ride, MT reports. And the new suspension means it’s easier to load cargo into the SUV, Autoblog reports. Plus, there is an appreciable increase in cargo space. Car and Driver fit 6 carry-on bags in the 2021 Tahoe, while the outgoing model could only take 4.

The biggest potential worry, though, surrounded the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban Z71 off-road models. As the Jeep Gladiator Mojave and Rubicon demonstrate, while IRS is great for ride quality and high-speed control, solid axles offer more articulation. However, MT reports that the Z71 SUVs can go plenty far off-road.

Four-wheel drive with a 2-speed transfer case is available on every Chevy Tahoe and Suburban. However, the Z71’s standard 4WD system has a more off-road-focused gearing. Also, both Z71 models have unique front fascia that improves their approach angles, tow hooks, a skid plate, and tubular side steps. In addition to the air springs—which add 2” of ground clearance—and magnetic dampers, the Z71s can also be equipped with 9 additional HD cameras to help with obstacle spotting.

Neither the Chevrolet Tahoe nor Suburban Z71 has locking differentials or disconnecting sway bars. But for the vast majority of buyers, both have more than enough off-road gear.

What still needs work?

RELATED: The 2021 Chevrolet Suburban Might Be More Than You Can Handle

Unfortunately, both the 2021 Chevy Tahoe and Suburban have a few weak spots. Firstly, while the IRS does help ride quality and handling, these are still large body-on-frame SUVs. As such, over large bumps, they’re less pleasant than a smaller unibody crossover would be. Though the Suburban’s larger size does lessen the issue, Autoblog reports.

2020 Ford Expedition Platinum cloth interior
2020 Ford Expedition Platinum | Ford

Secondly, while their interior materials are better, they’re still a bit cheap-feeling given their price point, MT reports. Also, both SUVs have some interior ergonomic issues. For example, the button to change driving modes is completely unmarked. And MT reports, for the Suburban at least, going from Normal to Sport Mode definitely makes a difference in suspension dampening and handling. Plus, the off-road cameras are more difficult to control and access than in the Ford Expedition, which MT notes has a more premium-feeling interior.

Speaking of price, neither the 2021 Chevy Tahoe nor Suburban is particularly cheap. The base Tahoe starts at $53,800. But adding features like adaptive cruise control and ventilated seats quickly raises the price. The Tahoe Z71 starts at just under $60.5k, but it doesn’t offer either feature as standard.

So, Chevrolet still has a few things to work on with the 2021 Tahoe and Suburban. But if you were worried that the update would ruin these SUVs, rest assured those worries are groundless.

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