SPEAKER: If you’re looking for a big three row SUV with strong towing, hauling, and some off road capabilities, there’s a good chance the Chevy Tahoe has been on your radar. After six years in production, it’s time to retire the fourth generation and introduce this– the all new 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe. There is a lot to talk about with this new Tahoe, but before that, do me a favor hit that Subscribe button for all our latest videos and click the links below to see our reviews of the Tahoe and Suburban at Edmunds.com. The big news for the 2021 Tahoe is a new independent rear suspension and an available diesel engine. That new suspension promises improvements in ride quality, handling, and interior space while the forthcoming diesels should have resectable towing capabilities and improved fuel economy. From the outside, the new Tahoe gains 1.4 inches in height, 6.7 inches from grille to lift gate, with 4.9 inches of that added between the wheels.
That translates to a lot more legroom on the inside– 3 inches more for the middle row and a whopping 10 inches for the third row. With a second row bench, you can transport up to eight passengers. Prices start around $50,000 for the base LS trim and $70,000 for the range topping High Country model. Want four wheel drive? That’s another three grand. What we have here is the offroad-capable Z71 that starts right around 60 grand. With options, this model has as tested price of $76,225. Depending on which trim you go with, there are three engines to choose from. The base 5.3 liter V8 makes 355 horsepower, 383 pound feet of torque, and should return 18 miles per gallon in combined driving. Upgrading to the 6.2 liter V8 means stepping up to the top High Country trim and get you 420 horsepower, 460 pound feet of torque, and 17 miles per gallon combined, which is the same as last year’s 5.3. Both of these feature cylinder deactivation, which shuts off a few cylinders when demand is lower in order to save fuel. A 10 speed automatic is the only available transmission.
At the low end, the Tahoe can tow up to 7,600 pounds. Properly equipped, it maxes out at 8,400 pounds. That’s pretty good, but comes up short against the Ford Expedition’s 9,300 pound max rating. By the way, you can now see what the specific auto rating is for a vehicle with these new stickers in the doorjamb. Helping matters are an integrated brake controller, some smart towing apps that include tire pressure and temperature monitors for your trailer, and an extended blindspot monitor. We don’t have tow specs on the 3 liter turbo diesel inline 6, but it will be good for 277 horsepower and 460 pound feet of torque when it becomes available at the end of 2020. Unfortunately, it won’t be offered on the Z71, because of some space constraints. That seems like a lost opportunity, if you ask me. That’s enough specs for now. So let’s get to the meat of this review and go for a spin, shall we?
With a 5.3 liter V8, there’s plenty of power and the toggle accelerates with authority. In an era when naturally aspirated V8 engines are being replaced by turbo charged 6 cylinders, the quick response and effortless power is refreshing. I had a chance to drive the High Country model that come standard with a 6.2 liter V8, and it has some serious punch right off the line. That wallop of power was awesome. It has some serious giddy up and go, but honestly, the vast majority of drivers will find the 5.3 liter V8 more than adequate. There’s not much to say about the brakes, which is a good sign. The pedal effort is appropriate. And you can come to a nice smooth stop without any lurches. See? As far as handling goes, well, you can’t expect too much from a big 5,600 pound SUV, but it doesn’t feel out of sorts on a winding mountain pass. Body roll is there, but it’s not anywhere close to being alarming. In fact, it instills confidence. Yes, it can indeed be said that it drives like a slightly smaller SUV. It’s worth calling out the steering, too, which feels more like a conventional SUV rather than a truck. It’s responsive, it’s accurate, and it returns to center better.
Overall, it’s just an easy car to drive. Both the C71 and the High Country mile I drove a few days ago have the magnetic ride and air ride suspensions. And it’s a little weird. You feel every little road imperfection, though it’s not harsh or what I traditionally consider overly stiff. Let me explain. There’s a lot of high frequency, but low amplitude vibrations that make it through the seats and the steering wheel. It’s subtle in that you’re not being shaken like a margarita, but there is a busy feeling about it. If we could represent it visually, it’s as though there’s a lot of noise in the graph instead of a nice smooth line, which would represent a flawlessly smooth ride. It’s almost as though the wheels are out of balance. It’s not a problem on the daily commute, but on a long road trip, it’ll add to the fatigue that you’d feel.
On the plus side, the air ride suspension has a full range of about 4 inches. On the lowest setting, it makes loading people and cargo easier, while on the top end, it gives you added ground clearance for off roading. If you’re planning on doing some off roading, this Z71 has a better approach angle and a lot of other goodies, but I’d definitely go without the permanent running boards that would probably hinder overall ground clearance. Thankfully, the cabin remains pleasantly quiet and the audio system has a decent amount of power. With driving impressions out of the way, let’s pull over and go over the interior. The new Tahoe gets a thorough modern makeover both in terms of style and technology. The dash is much more sculpted and the infotainment screen is mounted top and center right where it belongs. I’m not that big a fan of these touch button gear selectors, but after some time, I think I can probably get used to them. I’d much rather have a console mounted lever or a column shifter.
The chair’s quality is decent for non-luxury brand, but these days, I expect just a little bit better. In the High Country trim I drove earlier this week, it certainly didn’t seem worthy of the $81,000 price tag. If you’re seeking a more luxurious cabin, I’d suggest waiting for the GMC Denali version of this or stepping up to a Cadillac Escalade. I’m glad they put the central vents higher on the center stack, but that ended up pushing these infotainment controls just a little too far down for my tastes. I do like this padded shelf right under the screen, because it gives you a place to rest your hand while you’re working the touchscreen. The latest infotainment system is quick to respond and easy to use while you’re driving. A wireless charging pad is standard and it pairs well with the available wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto. I did experience some audio interruptions, but my colleague didn’t, so your results may vary. I’m particularly happy with the amount of storage we have up here. Sure, you have the typical door pockets and cup holders, but this sliding center armrest bin deserves some love. First off, it’s freaking huge.
Hello! Not only does the top slide as an armrest, but the entire body of it does, too, revealing this rubberized tray and another draw down below. Seriously, this is minivan levels of convenience. There’s also this weird compartment on the dash here that’s kind of narrow, but deep. So humidor? It’ll fit a lovely Montecristo number 2 and an Opus X, but Churchills are out of the question. Outward visibility is challenged just a little bit by this thick roof pillar, but riding this high up gives you that commanding view forward that attracts so many people to eschew versus. The view to the rear is a little limited, but the excellent surround view monitor and available virtual mirror makes up for it. The seats up front are comfy overall. And the available ventilation helps to quell some of that stifling that you might feel with these leather seats. I didn’t have the opportunity to drive our full evaluation loop, but my initial impressions point to it being really comfortable for a long road trip. And now to the second row.
These second row captain’s chairs have plenty of slide and recline travel to provide hours of comfortable touring. To help quell some of the boredom back here, we have a household power outlet and two USB-C ports. If you opt for the available rear entertainment system, you also have individual outputs for each screen. You can also play ship’s navigator back here by looking up a destination and sending it forward to the driver. Overall, things are looking pretty good in the second row, so let’s check out the third. These tumble forward second row seats make it easier and a lot less awkward getting to the third row, but it does take a little more effort to put them into place than I’d prefer. Once seated, there’s a lot of room back here. It’s not nearly the penalty it was last year. The seat cushion is a little shorter and lower, but for a crosstown jaunt, I’d be fine back here. I\’m 5\’10” and both seats in front of me are set for me. There are some hard plastics here and at least in the higher trims, you have a padded armrest.
The good thing is there are USB-C ports on both sides. Getting out is similarly easy. Just two tugs on the strap and you’re out of here. With the new independent rear suspension eliminating a lot of the previous Tahoe’s obstructions, cargo capacity is greatly improved for 2021. We now have 25 and 1/2 cubic feet behind the third row compared to last year’s paltry 15.3. With all of the seats folded, that balloons to 122.9 cubic feet, which is more than last year’s Suburban. The lower load floor, available air suspension, and these remote seatbelt releases makes loading bulkier objects that much easier, too. This 2021 Chevy Tahoe easily meets my expectations for a big family SUV and exceeds them when it comes to cargo capacity and interior storage. It will certainly give our top rated Ford Expedition a run for its money. And with a little luck, we should have a comparison test coming your way soon. Thanks for watching and as always, head over to Edmunds.com for more information on the Tahoe, its competition, and for all your car shopping needs.
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