2021 Chevrolet Tahoe
2021 Chevrolet Tahoe
The Chevrolet Tahoe has been redesigned for 2021. The 8-seat SUV has gotten even bigger; it’s longer by 6.7 inches, with a wheelbase stretched by 4.9 inches. That results in a whopping 10 inches more leg room for passengers in the third row, and 30 percent more cargo room.
The truck-based Tahoe has also gotten softer, and it handles better; for the first time, it gets a four-corner independent suspension. Literally on top of that, there’s a new available air suspension with adaptive dampers. There’s also a new 10-speed automatic transmission that’s standard in all models.
The Tahoe is built on the Chevy Silverado pickup truck platform, and it takes the Silverado’s bold design cues, as a wide vertical grille and boxy body on big wheels belie the more refined touches inside.
Some familiar V-8 engines power the 2021 Tahoe, a 5.3-liter making 355 hp and 6.2-liter making 420 hp. The 6.2-liter engine only comes on the top model, the High Country. A third engine, a 277-hp 3.0-liter inline-6 turbodiesel, gets better fuel economy than either of those gas engines. The Tahoe is rear-wheel drive, with available four-wheel drive.
The 5.3-liter V-8 with rear-wheel drive gets an EPA-rated 16 mpg city, 20 highway, 18 combined, which is a drop of 2 mpg highway from 2020 (but the same combined mpg), because it’s heavier. Meanwhile, with four-wheel drive it stays the same from 2020, again at 16/20/18 mpg.
The 6.2-liter V-8 with rear-wheel drive gets 15/20/17 mpg, while four-wheel drive gets 1 mpg less. The inline-6 turbodiesel earns EPA combined ratings of up to 24 mpg.
The 2021 Tahoe has not been crash-tested by the IIHS or NHTSA. Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic headlights, rear-seat reminder, and parking alerts.
Active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and front and rear parking alerts aren’t standard until the Premier trim. Adaptive cruise control, and enhanced emergency braking that works at speeds above 50 mph are optional on Premier and the top High Country trims.
The 2021 Tahoe comes in six models: LS, LT, RST, Z71, Premier, and High Country.
Standard equipment on the LS includes a large 10.2-inch touchscreen, smartphone compatibility with wireless charging, power liftgate, wi-fi hotspot, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Four-wheel drive, standard on only the Z71, costs $3,000. The adaptive air suspension, optional on only the Z71 and High Country, costs $1,000.
At just over $55,000, the LT adds heated and 10-way power-adjustable front seats, keyless start, a Bose nine-speaker audio system, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-trimmed front seats, and two USB ports at all three rows of seats.
For just over $60,000, the Z71 adds four-wheel drive, red tow hooks, skid plates, 20-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, a black grille, and black tube side steps.
A fully loaded High Country can cost more than $80,000. Standard equipment includes gigantic 22-inch wheels, magnetic ride control, heated and cooled first-row seats, heated second-row seats, a power-folding third row, a sharp 15-inch head-up display, and an 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster.
The 3-year/36,000-mile limited warranty includes the first scheduled maintenance.
The redesigned Tahoe wears a Texas-sized truck face and a beefy body built to carry things. From the front, it looks like the new Silverado pickup truck. Standard LED headlights squint out of a broad, vertical face with a slotted grille and vertical fog lights.
The single crease in the upper part of the body gets lost in the mass of sheetmetal. The rear opening, flanked by vertical LED taillights, is squared-off to better fit cargo.
The cabin brings an uncluttered soft-touch dash with a commanding 10.2-inch touchscreen with big icons and a clear display; a slim band of functions and climate controls keep the screen clean and organized. An electronic gear shifter on the instrument panel creates room for a big console between the seats. Good storage bins live in the console, center stack, and door pockets. Fake chrome trim pieces contrast with black materials, and high trims get more rustic leather.
The LT gets leather-trimmed heated front seats with power lumbar support. The seat backs are firm and supportive, although the cushions are a bit narrow for a big SUV.
The optional second-row bucket seats can slide on a five-inch track. But it’s the third row that’s hugely improved. First, the floor of the redesigned Tahoe has been lowered, and its lengthened wheelbase creates 10.1 more inches of third-row leg room, for a total of 34.9 inches, so adults can sit back there without their knees hitting their chins. On top trims that third row folds at the touch of a button. Combined with the folded second row, that brings a total cargo space of a van-like 122.9 cubic feet.
The 2021 Tahoe uses two familiar V-8 engines mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, and one new one, the turbodiesel.
The 355-hp 5.3-liter V-8 makes 383 lb-ft of torque and can tow up to 8,400 pounds with rear-wheel drive. The 6.2-liter V-8 making 420 hp and 460 lb-ft is standard on the High Country, but not available on any other model.
The shifts of the 10-speed automatic transmission are almost unnoticeable under normal throttle. A heavy foot will kick down the transmission, and if it’s at a low speed into first or second gear, the tach will jump to 6,000 rpm with a welcome V-8 roar. Otherwise the Tahoe stays on the quiet side. In any version, the Tahoe leads the towing charge from a position of strength.
The new four-wheel independent suspension is impressive. The 2021 Tahoe can fly over railroad tracks without slowing down and tackle speed bumps with aplomb. The new suspension also reduces lean in the corners; though the Tahoe still hauls like a truck, it handles more like a crossover than ever.
The optional adaptive dampers and air suspension, available on only the Z71 and High Country, make an even smoother ride, by reacting quicker to the bumps. They eliminate most of the bounce. The ride height automatically lowers three-quarters of an inch on the highway, or it can be adjusted manually using a knob on the dash. It can drop two inches for parking to make it easier to climb in and out, or it can rise two inches for more ground clearance off the road.
The redesigned 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe appears to target big families whose garage won’t fit a Suburban. You get a lot of interior space for 6.7 more inches in length. The new suspension and 10-speed automatic are welcome improvements, and the turbodiesel could be the perfect towing tool for those who need real SUV strength, combined with crossover flexibility.
—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection