Chevrolet’s new flagships are ready for battle.
The automaker unveiled the 2021 Tahoe and Suburban on Tuesday night, marking their first redesigns in five years. The all-new SUVs are based on GM’s latest full-size truck platform and larger than the ones they replace.
Tim Herrick, GM’s vice president of global product programs, told Fox News Autos that increasing passenger and cargo space were top priorities, along with improving ride quality and handling. A longer wheelbase combined with the switch from the solid rear axle used by the Chevy Silverado to an independent rear suspension served both goals.
The suspension change required a significant engineering investment that emphasizes the SUV’s position as Chevy’s top-of-the-line family model and puts them in a better position to compete with the Ford Expedition, which has used the design since 2003. Even without it, the current versions of the Tahoe and Suburban outsold their rival by two-to-one through the first nine months of the year, despite a 50 percent increase in Expedition sales.
“Going head-to-head and broadening offerings, we’ll compete across the market and fight for every sale that we can,” Herrick said.
To that end, new trucks come with a 10-speed automatic transmission and a choice of three engines, including the only diesel in the segment. The turbocharged 3.0-liter is an inline-6-cylinder that’s rated at 277 hp with 460 lb-ft of torque. It debuted this year in the Silverado pickup, where it delivers a best in class 33 mpg on the highway. Chevrolet expects a similarly impressive performance by the SUVs when the final fuel economy numbers are in. The two other motors are updated versions of Chevy’s familiar 355 hp 5.3-liter and 420 hp 6.2-liter gasoline V8s that will make up the bulk of sales.
The Tahoe and Suburban are GM’s first trucks to utilize its next-generation Digital Vehicle Platform, which allows for over the air upgrades to virtually every component, including drivetrain, entertainment and safety systems. A 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system interface is standard, while a head-up display and dual 12.6-inch rear-seat entertainment screens that can sync to mobile devices are available on various trim levels.
The Tahoe and Suburban offer six that range from the entry-level LS to the premium High Country. Several feature GM’s computer-controlled Magnetic Ride Control suspension, and an adaptive air suspension with automatic load leveling and four inches of ride height adjustment will be optional on the High Country and off-road-tuned Z71.
Electronic driver aids include automatic emergency brakes, rear pedestrian detection, a 360-degree camera, lane-keeping assist and radar cruise control.
One thing missing from the lineup is any hint of electrification, even as GM readies a battery-powered pickup for 2021. Herrick said: “We look at all the propulsion opportunities and we landed with these… for now.”
Production of the 2021 Tahoe and Suburban is scheduled to begin at GM’s Arlington, Texas, assembly plant in the middle of next year, when details on fuel efficiency, payload and tow ratings will be released.