Updated: Apr 1, 2022
Only in America could a vehicle like the Chevrolet Tahoe exist. 26 years ago, in this "bigger is better" country, someone figured out that if you took the Chevrolet Suburban (in production since 1935) and made it smaller by shortening the rear overhang, you could sell some vehicles.
That was an understatement. The Suburban was having a hot streak at the time and the Tahoe almost immediately leap-frogged big brother in sales. And that sent Ford scurrying to the drawing boards to whip up its own pickup-truck based SUV, the Expedition. Not counting the Suburban, the Expedition MAX and the luxury variants of the two vehicles, the Cadillac Escalade and the Lincoln Navigator, it's still a two-vehicle contest between Ford's Expedition and Chevy's Tahoe.
For 2021, the all-new fifth generation of Tahoe arrives. Under the hood, it's a 5.3-liter Ecotec3 V8, making 355 horsepower and 383 pounds per foot of torque. It's mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission. EPA fuel economy average is 16 city/20 highway. And despite its size and weight, the new Tahoe is pretty quick, hitting 60 miles per hour from a standing start in 6.5 seconds.
There's a new independent multi-link rear suspension that allows for a lower floor and more cargo and passenger room in the rear seat as a result. There's 11 cubic feet more cargo space before the third row than there was in the 2020 model, and ten additional inches of third-row legroom.
The interior is not just spacious and comfortable, but the materials and fit and finish are of good quality. It'll be interesting to see how GMC threads the needle in placing the new Yukon between the Tahoe and Cadillac's new Escalade.
The base price for the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD Z71 is $59,200. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment at that price are 20-inch machined aluminum wheels, a nine-speaker Bose premium audio system, wireless charging and three-zone automatic climate control.
Our tester had a lot of extra-cost optional equipment added via two packages---$5,735 for the Z71 Off-Road Package, $2,490 for the Rear Media and Nav Package (see sticker below for details)---and two stand-alone options---$370 for second-row bucket seats with a power release, and $350 for a power-sliding center console with drawer.
With $1,295 destination charge and a Z71 Off Road Package discount of $500, the as-tested price for the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD Z71 is $68,940.
If you haven't priced this class of vehicle in five or more years, that's probably a fairly shocking number. But it's actually about seven grand less than the as-tested price of the Ford Expedition I reviewed on the old TireKicker site last March. And the striking thing is that, for two direct competitors, they are very different vehicles. I'm not sure which I'd pick if playing with my own money, other than that seven grand in the bank would be a major incentive.