For the last 19 years, the Chevrolet Tahoe has been the best-selling full-size SUV in the U.S. The Tahoe gets redesigned for 2021 and that should help cement its place at the top.
Base Price: $60,100
As Tested: $68,485
Mileage: 16 mpg city/20 mpg highway/18 mpg combined
The Tahoe and its larger sibling the Suburban are both old-school in that they are truck-based SUVs. This means they can tow and haul more than car-based crossovers. However, they often handle more like trucks than cars.
The new 2021 Tahoe gets updated exterior and interior styling, more cargo room, more legroom in the third row, more standard driver assistance tech, an updated infotainment system with a larger touchscreen, and a new turbodiesel engine.
The 2021 Tahoe comes in six trims: LS, LT, RST, Z71, Premier, and High Country. Starting prices range from $49,000 for an LS model with rear-wheel-drive to $69,600 for a High Country with rear-wheel-drive. Four-wheel-drive is standard on the Z71 trim and can be added to all other trims for $3,000. A fully-loaded upper trim can cost around 80-grand.
Three engines are available. Standard is the 5.3-liter V8 that makes 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. A 6.2-liter V8 produces 420 horses and 460 pound-feet—this engine is standard on the High Country trim. These two engines are now joined by a new diesel turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that makes 277 hp and 460 pound-feet. All engines are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
My tester has the standard V8 which produces plenty of power for everyday driving. Acceleration is brisk and there’s more than enough oomph for merging and passing at freeway speeds. The 10-speed shifts smoothly and quickly. The Tahoe drives similarly to a truck since it is a body-on-frame vehicle. The ride is smoother than the outgoing Tahoe and mostly comfortable, but it is on the stiff side and you’ll notice some bumps and jostling, especially on rough roads. Optional Magnetic Ride Control and air suspension can smooth things out. Steering is responsive and the Tahoe stays fairly planted when cornering which makes it relatively easy to maneuver this large beast.
When properly equipped, the Tahoe can tow up to 8,400 pounds. Several trailering features and tech are available.
Fuel efficiency is decent for a hefty SUV with a V8. EPA ratings for my 4WD tester are 16 mpg city and 20 mpg highway with a combined rating of 18. The ratings are the same for the rear-wheel-drive models with the same engine. I got 17 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior is roomy, comfortable, and more upscale than the outgoing Tahoe. There’s room for seven or eight passengers in three rows of seating, depending on whether you get captain’s chairs or a bench in the second row. And with more legroom—10 more inches!—in the third row, even adults will be comfortable there. Getting back there is a breeze as the second row slides, tips or folds forward. Materials in the cabin are mostly nice and many are soft-touch, but there are some hard plastics. The design is clean and attractive, and controls are sensibly laid out.
Standard features include remote start, push-button start, proximity keyless entry, rearview camera, tri-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, Chevrolet’s Infotainment 3 Plus system with a 10.2-inch touchscreen, six-speaker sound system, Bluetooth, satellite radio, HD Radio, six USB ports, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Wi-Fi hot spot.
Available features include rear camera mirror, surround-view camera system, leather upholstery, upgraded leather upholstery, heated, power-adjustable steering wheel, heated and 10-way power-adjustable front seats, ventilated and 12-way power-adjustable front seats, heated second-row outboard seats, power-folding second- and third-row seats, nine-or 10-speaker Bose audio system, navigation, rear-seat entertainment system with two 12.6-inch touchscreens and Wi-Fi capability, wireless device charging, panoramic sunroof , 15-inch head-up display and a safety alert seat.
Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, a following distance indicator, rear parking sensors, and GM’s Teen Driver, which lets you set audio volume and speed limits for your young drivers.
Available driver assistance technologies include lane departure warning, lane keep assist, lane change alert, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, reverse automatic emergency braking, and front parking sensors.
The Chevy Infotainment 3 Plus system and its big 10.2-inch touchscreen is user-friendly, and it’s easy to see and reach from the driver’s seat. The system responds quickly to touch and voice commands. Physical buttons and knobs for common functions make it easy to adjust things like volume, tuning and climate settings.
The Tahoe’s cavernous interior makes for lots of cargo space. There are 25.5 cubic feet with all three rows of seating in place, 72.6 cubes with the third row folded and 122.9 cubes with the third and second rows folded. It’s a snap to fold down the third row—just push a button. A hands-free power liftgate is standard. There are lots of spots in the cabin to stash your stuff including a power-sliding center console and numerous bins and compartments.
Three capable engines
Cavernous interior and cargo area
Lots of passenger room, even in third row
User-friendly infotainment system
Lots of standard and available features and tech
Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Cabin has a fair amount of hard plastics
Price can climb into luxury territory
My tester starts at $60,100. The Luxury Package is $2,820 and adds HD Surround Vision, heated power outside mirrors with power-fold, heated steering wheel, power tilt and telescopic steering column, memory settings for driver seat, outside mirrors and steering column, second row heated 60/40 split bench with power release, third row 60/40 split bench with power fold, rear pedestrian alert, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, front and rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, and lane keep assist with lane departure warning. The Rear Media and Navigation Package is $2,490 and includes the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 Premium system with navigation, 10.2-inch diagonal HD color touchscreen, voice recognition, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth audio streaming, in-vehicle apps, and rear seat media system with dual rear seat-mounted 12.6-inch diagonal color-touch LCD HD screens. The Max Trailering Package is $565 and adds a two-speed transfer case, enhanced cooling radiator, trailer brake controller, advanced trailering system, and hitch guidance with hitch view. The Cherry Red Tintcoat is $495. Second row bucket seats with power release are $370. The power-sliding floor console with drawer is $350. Destination charge is $1,295 bringing the grand total to $68,485.
The redesigned 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe is a big improvement on the outgoing model with more space and more features. If you’re looking for a full-size SUV that can handle a large family and all its gear, with respectable towing and hauling capabilities, check out the Tahoe.