This huge SUV has some great technology.
General Motors has a lot to be excited about in 2021. All three of its full-size SUVs have hit dealerships, ready to haul families across the United States. We already came away impressed with the new Cadillac Escalade, giving it the CarBuzz Family Luxury Award for 2020. The GMC Yukon was similarly impressive during our brief time with it, and now we've had a chance to drive the third model in the trio, the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe.
Chevy sent us a Tahoe RST with four-wheel-drive to review, giving us a taste of a volume model with sporty flavor rather than one of the fully-loaded trims. While not nearly as impressive as the decadent Cadillac, this model's $60,100 MSRP and $67,190 as-tested price undercuts the last Escalade we tested by nearly $30,000. The 2021 Tahoe is an impressive full-size SUV in its own right, and here are our seven favorite features.
Few SUVs on the market boast as much space as the Tahoe and its larger counterpart, the Suburban. With the second and third rows folded flat, the Tahoe offers a whopping 122.9 cubic feet of space, a huge improvement over the previous generation's 94.7 cubic feet. The increase in volume comes from a longer wheelbase and switch to an independent rear suspension.
Like most SUVs, the Tahoe's liftgate features a hands-free sensor with a little light to show where to wave your foot. But unlike many modern SUVs, the Tahoe also has a small glass window that opens up to throw in small items or fit longer items that won't fit with the trunk closed.
Not only does the new Tahoe boast more cargo space than its predecessor, but it also offers more passenger space. The second-row legroom sits at a generous 42 inches (up from 39 inches) while the third-row is usable too, with 34.9 inches (up from 24.8 inches). In the RST trim with the Luxury Package, the third-row can be lowered or raised using electric switches in the trunk, which operate quicker than any SUV we've ever tested (besides the Yukon and Escalade).
The second-row also folds down using the trunk controls, but they are not electrically powered to raise back up. We also noticed that the captain's chairs often bump into the front seats or prevent the third-row seats from folding depending on their position. This is not an issue that we experienced in the Escalade ESV, so we assume the longer wheelbase of the Suburban might fix the problem.
As expected of a humongous family vehicle, the Tahoe boasts tons of little storage spaces for occupants to place their belongings. Chevy placed a clever credit card slot to the left of the steering wheel that can be used for a gas card (an item often used by fleet drivers), an ID card, parking slip, or any other card-shaped object. There's a small sliding door that reveals a storage bin for various items to the right of the infotainment system. It's not huge, but it's a covered area to put valuables when parked.
Our Tahoe tester also featured a new $350 sliding armrest that features a nice area for a cellphone with plenty of storage under the lid. Press the button on the headliner and the console slides forward freeing up an area big enough for a handbag. Sliding the console back also reveals a hidden storage drawer, which is inaccessible when the armrest is slid forward. Don't worry about comfortability for your arm, because the top piece slides forward when the console is in its back position.
Parking an enormous vehicle like the Tahoe can be a daunting task for many drivers. This vehicle is 210.7 inches long, making parallel parking and tight parking lot maneuvers difficult. Our RST trim came equipped with the $2,820 Luxury Package, which adds an HD surround vision camera system. These cameras feature a ton of useful angles, including special views for towing, which makes parking the Tahoe a cinch.
Chevy's MyLink infotainment system is among the most intuitive on the market. Our RST tester was equipped with the $2,490 rear media and navigation package, which adds two 12.6-inch touchscreens in the second-row that can wirelessly connect to smartphones via Miracast or wired-in inputs via USB or HDMI. This means that children can bring along their new Xbox or PlayStation and use the built-in WiFi to play games. They can also set destinations for the navigation from the rear so the driver doesn't have to be distracted. Up front, parents can use the 10.2-inch touchscreen, which now features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
Depending on the trim level, customers can order the Tahoe with one of three engines. Our RST tester included the base 5.3-liter V8 producing 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque going out through a 10-speed automatic transmission. While GM's 10-speed automatic is nearly flawless, the 5.3-liter V8 felt inadequately-powered for such an enormous vehicle. We'd happily spend the $1,000 premium for the 3.0-liter Duramax diesel inline-six, which can achieve up to 28 mpg on the highway. It's less potent than the V8 with only 277 hp, but it makes up for that with 460 lb-ft of torque.
Buyers who opt for the top High Country trim gain access to the larger 6.2-liter V8, which produces 420 hp and 460 lb-ft. This is the same engine found in the Escalade that provides effortless passing power. Getting this engine is a costly proposition, as the High Country starts at $70,895, but the 6.2-liter is such a massive improvement over the 5.3, we think it's worth the upgrade if you can swing it.
No matter which trim you opt for, the Tahoe's transmission is controlled via a push-button shifter that we found cumbersome in practice.