2021 Chevy Tahoe revealed with long-needed independent rear suspension

Zac Palmer

The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe has been revealed next to the equally new Chevy Suburban. Continuing tradition, the Tahoe remains a smaller version of the Suburban, but it’s remarkably more utilitarian this year. In fact, the Tahoe has grown enough inside that you may not need to step up to the bigger model. 

Chevy made the Tahoe 6.7 inches longer and gave it a 4.9-inch longer wheelbase. This translates to even bigger gains than the Suburban got in overall space. The Tahoe actually shares the Suburban’s third-row legroom figure of 34.9 inches, a massive improvement over the previous Tahoe's third row, which was nearly useless, even for children. Cargo capacity behind the third row goes up 10.2 cubic feet, as well. 

The secret behind these substantial interior space gains is the long-needed switch to an independent rear suspension, which substantially lowers the rear floor for extra cargo space, a lower lift-in height and a third row placed higher off the floor for improved space and comfort. It's also beneficial for improving handling and ride quality. Whereas the Ford Expedition and other full-size SUV competitors long-ago made the switch to an IRS, the Tahoe/Suburban soldiered on with a truck-like solid rear axle, which put it at a decisive dynamic disadvantage. No more.

The mechanical improvements don't end there, though. Like the Suburban, the 2021 Tahoe will have three suspension options. Standard is the conventional steel coil spring with passive shocks. Then, the coil springs can be paired with GM’s latest version of its magnetic ride control. The top-tier suspension option is a new Air Ride Adaptive Suspension (diagrammed above) that’s optional on the High Country and Z71 models. This is bound to be the most comfortable of all the available Tahoe suspensions, while also being able to rise and lower for improved highway fuel economy and better off-road clearance. 

Chevy kept it simple with the powertrains, with one exception. It added the 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel as an optional engine. It continues to make the same 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque as it does in the Silverado. This will undoubtedly be an expensive extra, but the standard engine is still the 5.3-liter V8 that makes 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. The 6.2-liter V8 is also an option like before, producing 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. All engines come with a 10-speed automatic and a choice of rear- and four-wheel drive. Both V8 engines include GM's advanced Dynamic Fuel Management system

The 2021 Tahoe’s tech gets a big upgrade for the redesign, too. Just like the Suburban, it features a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard from the lowest trim. Other tech bits are shared with the Suburban, as well, like the optional 8-inch digital display in the instrument cluster and 15-inch head-up display. The massive 12.6-inch rear seat entertainment displays are optional, too.

Tahoes will be offered in six trim levels: LS, LT, RST, Z71, Premier and High Country. The High Country trim, pictured above right, marks a new level of luxury available for the Tahoe, replacing and surpassing the previous Premier version. It has all the extra goodies and then some, plus it’s the classiest of the bunch. Pricing isn’t available, but each trim has its own benefits. For example, the off-road enthusiast should go for a Z71, pictured above left. It has a higher approach angle, standard four-wheel drive, a two-speed transfer case, all-terrain tires, a skid plate and red tow hooks.

As expected, there’s a whole suite of safety equipment standard or available on the 2021 Tahoe. The amount of equipment you get varies by trim level, but the standard fare includes forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and auto high-beams. Desirable extras like lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control will cost you.

Chevy says to expect the 2021 Tahoe to hit the streets come mid-2020. We expect pricing and fuel economy closer to the on-sale date.