The Chevrolet Suburban is indubitably an American icon when it comes to SUVs. After 85 years of production, this big hunk of metal is back in 2021 with new engine choices, new technologies and a completely new look. The Suburban was never acclaimed for its handling capacities and subtle, refined looks. However, its performances in various commercial fleets, police corps, government and, of course, large families have always been praised. It was revealed before our eyes today in Detroit.
Moreover, one of Chevy’s other best-selling SUVs took the stage by the same occasion; the 2021 Tahoe. This one has 25 years of production under its belt and was the most popular full-size SUV for 19 years.
Chevrolet says a little more than 1500 engineers worked on Tahoe / Suburban project. And they are both assembled in GM’s Arlington plant in Texas.
New looks and greater size
Both models got bigger for this new generation. For instance, the Tahoe gained 4% in length, with 210.7 inches. The Suburban only gained 1.3 inches over the outgoing generation, with 225.7 inches. And basically everything related to the exterior has been changed; both trucks adopted the modernized looks adopting the essence of the current Chevrolet truck lineup. The 2021 trims for Suburban and Tahoe are LS, LT, RST, High Country, Premier and Z71 on the Tahoe only.
Three engines and a new suspension
The outgoing Suburban and Tahoe were only available with the 5.3-litre V8 engine and with the 6.2-litre V8. This massive 6.2-litre powerplant is still available on the Premier trims, dishing out 420 horsepower and 460 lb-pi. And the good old 5.3-litre V8 will still be a good seller on several trims, outputting 355 and 383 lb-ft of torque.
But the showstopper this year is the addition of the 3.0-litre Duramax diesel engine with 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. A standard 10-speed automatic transmission manages all engines. Max payload and towing capacities are unknown at this point in time.
What really takes the new generation Suburban and Tahoe up a notch – other than the new diesel engine – is a fully independent suspension in the rear. Standard as shock and spring combo on lower trims and available as a Magnetic Ride Control coupled with an Air Ride suspension on the High Country and Premier editions, this addition really brings the Suburban / Tahoe duo up to speed in the segment. The air suspension serves as a levelling feature for high payloads, and it is composed of a 7-litre air tank, a compressor & dryer and lines.
We were taken for a drive in the passenger seat of a new Ford Expedition equipped with the continuously variable dampening technology, as well as a brand new Magnetic Ride-equipped 2021 fully camo’d Tahoe prototype. This happened on GM’s Milford testing ground’s handling track and was organized for us to feel the difference between the main rival’s performances on simulated crappy roads. As a passenger, the difference was notable as the Suburban could react to bumps and crevasses easier.
A modernized, and (more importantly) more spacious cabin
The third row, a place that is often shunned by passengers for its insufficient legroom, has gained in space in both trucks. In the Tahoe, 10 inches of additional room is available to 3rd-row passengers. 66% more cargo gets behind the 3rd row as well. While the vehicle length gain is less on the Suburban, it gets more cargos space, with a 19% increase. This translates to a whopping 4,097 litres total space when all the seats are folded.
In the tech department, a 10-inch touchscreen is standard for the infotainment system. But an 8-inch head-up display and dual 12.6-inch screens for rear-seat entertainment are available.
Safety and anti-hacker tech
To protect passengers and surrounding entities from these large SUVs, the Suburban and the Tahoe come with a suite of standard and optional technologies such as Forward Automatic braking with collision alert, rear park assist, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, Intellibeam, and so on. But the new ones that must be outlined for 2021 are front pedestrian braking, a new rear camera mirror new HD surround vision and a total of 9 camera views.
No, the new Suburban and Tahoe are not equipped with SuperCruise. But engineers said they had upgraded the adaptive cruise control system.
Chevrolet takes hacking and digital security threats very seriously. This is why both the Suburban and Tahoe are equipped with many layers of tech to protect the vehicle (and its data) from outside online threats.
In the end, the Chevrolet Suburban is geared to compete with the Ford Expedition and other rivals, thanks, in part, by ditching the rear solid axle suspension and giving the rear passengers and cargo extra room.
As for driving dynamics, new infotainment technologies and overall life on the road evaluations, we’ll just have to take the duo for a spin and see what they really have to offer for the drive and their passengers. Both should see the light of dealerships in the second quarter of 2020.