Sorry column shifter lovers, Chevy has moved on.
Chevrolet just revealed the all-new 2021 Tahoe and 2021 Suburban, which are massively upgraded from the last-generation models. These updated SUVs ride on an all-new truck architecture, which for the first time ever, does not use a live rear axle. This allowed Chevy to incorporate more interior cargo space into both models with the Suburban now boasting the most passenger and cargo volume of any SUV on the market.
Along with these changes, loyal Tahoe and Suburban owners may notice a missing feature on these new models. Whereas all generations of these two SUVs have used a column-mounted shifter, these new models now feature a push-button unit on all trim levels. This is a pretty significant change since we know many Tahoe and Suburban owners have grown attached to their column shifters.
Speaking with Muscle Cars & Trucks, Suburban and Tahoe Interior Design Director Michael Stapleton said, "we looked at several options" for the shifter design. Stapleton said his design team looked at several options including a "rotary dial" like the one used in the rival Ford Expedition before ultimately deciding on a push-button. Chevy says the ease of use and muscle memory are better with the push-button system, which is why it was chosen for the Tahoe and Suburban. We can't say we are too surprised to see this design reach these new SUVs because a similar system is already used in another General Motors product, the GMC Terrain.
We have mixed feelings about push-button-style shifter designs and have seen them executed at varying levels of success. Several automakers including Honda, Lincoln, and Aston Martin have all used similar systems in the past, while other brands like Ford, Jaguar/Land Rover, and FCA have gone with rotating knobs. Having buttons on the dashboard to control the transmission frees up the designers to have more space in the cabin, so we think Chevy made the smart move ditching the column shifter.