2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Review + Video
  • Car Review

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Review + Video

By David Undercoffler | August 10, 2020

Quick Facts:

Pros:

  • Impressive interior space and functionality for people and cargo.
  • Nice variety of V8 and diesel engines available.
  • Good on-road refinement.
  • Class-leading levels of tech features.

Cons:

  • Higher trim levels get expensive for what they are.
  • Not enough standard active safety features.
  • Transmission shift buttons take some getting used to.
  • Cheap plastic in cargo area may age poorly.

Video:

More Photos:
See more 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe photos here.


Would we buy it? Yep, but we’d focus on the LT model specifically.

Vehicle Type: Full-size seven- or eight-passenger SUV.

Price Range: $51,000 - $72,000 before any options

Powertrains:
The standard powertrain is a 5.3-liter V8 with 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque.

The High Country trim comes with a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque.

A 3.0-liter turbodiesel six-cylinder engine that makes 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, will be optional.

All models come standard with a ten-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel-drive, except for the Z71 trim, which is four-wheel-drive only. On other models, four-wheel-drive is a $3,000 option.


Overview:

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The Tahoe is a truck-based full-size SUV from Chevrolet. It seats seven or eight people, depending on the configuration, and it shares most of its components with the larger Suburban, which packs additional legroom in the third row and extra cargo space behind those seats.

The Chevy Tahoe is aimed at families looking for a large, near-luxury family hauler that’s adept at towing.

The 2021 Tahoe is all-new, ushering in the fifth-generation of the SUV that’s been around since 1995.

The big news for this generation is the switch to an independent rear suspension. This allows for significantly more space for cargo and people. The new Tahoe has three inches of extra legroom in the second row of seats and 10 inches of extra legroom in the third row. Cargo space jumps by ten cubic feet behind the third row of seats and by nearly 30 cubic feet overall.

The 2021 Tahoe has a wheelbase that’s 4.9 inches longer, and its overall length is up by 6.7 inches versus the fourth-generation model.

It now comes with one of three engines: a base 5.3-liter V8, a larger 6.2-liter V8 on the High Country trim, or an optional 3.0-liter turbodiesel six-cylinder engine.

All models come standard with a ten-speed automatic transmission (Chevy has done away with the traditional column-mounted shifter and replaced it with dashboard-mounted electric buttons).

Also standard is rear-wheel-drive, with four-wheel-drive being offered as a $3,000 option (except the off-road-oriented Z71, where four-wheel-drive is standard).

The Chevrolet Tahoe is available in six trims: LS, LT, RST, Z71, Premier, and High Country.

The Tahoe’s rivals include the Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada, Toyota Sequoia, BMW X7, Mercedes-Benz GLS, and Audi Q7.

Overall Score: 7.1/10


Safety Features: 5/10

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All Tahoe models come standard with pre-collision alert, automatic pedestrian braking, rear park assist, and automatic emergency braking.

That’s a nice start, but features like adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and blind-spot monitoring are either optional or not even offered on some lower trim levels.

That shouldn’t be the case on any SUV that starts above $50,000, especially when $23,000 compact cars come standard with the same features.

As of now, neither NHTSA nor IIHS have crash-tested the Tahoe.


Value: 6/10

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Whether the Tahoe is a good value depends on the trim level you choose.

The lower-grade LT trim (only the LS is lower) packs in a healthy amount of features for the money, and it’s the trim we would recommend shoppers pick.

But once you get into the higher trims -- the Premier and the High Country -- the extra money doesn’t go as far as we’d like.

Plus, the High Country starts overlapping with true large luxury SUVs like the Mercedes-Benz GLS and the BMW X7.


Tech Features: 8/10

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Chevy did a nice job packing in the latest tech features that owners and families are looking for.

All models -- except the base LS -- come standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and wireless smartphone charging. That’s a nice treat that only has limited availability in the industry right now. There is also a nice smattering of USB ports throughout the vehicle.

The Tahoe also comes standard with a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment screen.

Tahoe buyers looking to spend a little money have some nice tech options available too: highlights include one of the biggest and best heads-up displays on the market (15-inches), a feature-rich rear-seat entertainment system, and a variety of around-vehicle cameras to help hook up a trailer and for general safety monitoring.


Practicality: 9/10

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Any large SUV needs to be oriented around practicality, and the Tahoe doesn’t disappoint here.

This generation switched to an independent rear suspension setup for the first time; doing so allows for significantly more cargo space and second- and third-row legroom.

The seats throughout the Tahoe also fold conveniently out of the way to best suit the owner’s needs.

There are also a variety of well-executed cubbies, cupholders, and storage bins for all of life’s essentials.

Higher-end models add additional functionality in the way of a power-sliding center console up front (with a hidden and lockable compartment), and buttons up front for the driver and passenger to fold the power-operated third row of seats.


Styling & Design: 8/10

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Each new generation of the Tahoe has gotten sleeker and more refined, and this fifth-generation model continues that trend.

Its look is handsome, bold, and modern up front, with slim headlamps and unique LED daytime lamps setting the Tahoe apart from anything else on the road.

Out back it’s a little anonymous, but still nicely balanced ruggedness with refinement.

The design of the interior is also a nice mix of form and function.

We did take some time getting used to the dashboard-mounted shift buttons for the transmission; ultimately, we’d probably prefer the rotary knob that other trucks and SUVs are adopting.


Driving Experience: 8/10

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We tested the fully-loaded High Country trim, which comes standard with GM’s excellent Magnetic Ride Control suspension setup, plus our tester had the optional (and new for 2021) Air Ride adjustable suspension.

The combination worked wonders smoothing out road imperfections and giving the Tahoe a refined driving characteristic. The air suspension can also be raised or lowered by four inches for more ground clearance or easier access when loading people and cargo.

Our tester also had the bigger V8 engine with 420 horsepower. It was more than enough grunt for this SUV, and it was well-paired with the 10-speed automatic.

While we didn’t test the more common 5.3-liter V8 in this new Tahoe, we’ve driven it in a variety of Chevy Silverado trucks, and its 355 horsepower should be more than enough in this new Tahoe.

The Tahoe also does an impressive job at keeping out road and wind noise, leaving the cabin a quiet and comfortable place to add up the miles.


Fuel Efficiency: 6/10

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The Tahoe we tested (6.2-liter V8 and four-wheel-drive) is rated by the EPA at 14/19/16 city/highway/combined; the two-wheel-drive version of that 6.2-liter Tahoe gets one MPG better for each of the three ratings.

The 5.3-liter V8 is rated at 16/20/18 city/highway/combined for both the rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive models.

While both V8s come with auto start/stop and cylinder deactivation to save fuel, those fuel economy ratings lag behind Ford’s Expedition, which uses a twin-turbo V6 with 375 horsepower.

For Tahoe fans looking to save some fuel, Chevy will offer a new diesel variant. Fuel economy figures haven’t been released yet for it, but it should hit the mid- to high-20s for highway economy.


What’s it Going to Cost Me?

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The base Tahoe LS with rear-wheel-drive starts at around $51,000, including destination. It comes standard with a 10-inch color touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, 18-inch alloy wheels, the aforementioned standard safety equipment (automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, rear parking sensors), multiple USB ports, a WiFi hotspot, and LED headlamps and taillamps.

Next up is the $55,000 LT, which adds wireless smartphone charging, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a Bose nine-speaker sound system, power liftgate, leather seats, heated front seats, keyless entry, a 4.2-inch digital display screen for driver, power driver’s seat, and remote start.

The street-oriented RST starting at about $58,000 and is an appearance-oriented package of visual upgrades. It’s highlighted by unique 22-inch alloy wheels and a black interior with red stitching.

The off-road-aimed Z71 starts at a little more than $60,000. It comes with exterior changes to the bumper to allow for more clearance when off-roading, a standard four-wheel-drive system with a two-speed transfer case, hill-decent control, 20-inch alloy wheels with all-terrain tires, a skid plate, and the optional air ride suspension.

The Premier model starts at $64,000 and adds GM’s Magnetic Ride Control, lane-change, and side blind-spot alerts, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alerts, cooled front seats, heated second-row seats, an upgraded Bose speaker system, navigation, an eight-inch digital instrument panel, 12-way power front seats, power-folding second and third-row seats, heated steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors, 20-inch alloy wheels, and dual exhaust tips.

The fully-loaded High Country model that we tested starts $71,000 and includes the larger V8 engine with 420 horsepower, 22-inch alloy wheels, unique interior and exterior trim, a massive 15-inch color head-up display, rear pedestrian alert, and a 360-camera.

So which would we choose? The LT trim is really all you need and more. We’d opt for that in either RWD or 4WD -- depending on where you live -- and then throw in the $1,500 panoramic sunroof.


More Photos

See more 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe photos here.