Auto review: The redesigned 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe casts an ever-larger shadow

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe High Country (Chevrolet)
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Larry Printz Tribune News Service (TNS)

Hey! Who slipped the “Jumbo-Gro” in the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe’s gas tank?

Having received a total overhaul for the current model year, the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe RST is far larger than the vehicle it replaces. Its wheelbase is 4.9 inches longer than last year and overall, its 6.7 inches lengthier. It’s a massive 81 inches wide with the mirrors folded. Of course, this pays dividends inside, where the third row gets 10.1 more inches of legroom, the second row adds 3 inches, and the cargo hold swells by 10.2 cubic feet.

The Tahoe is a member of General Motors’ full-size SUV lineup that includes the Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, and Cadillac Escalade, which share the same underpinnings and intimidating slab-sided styling with enormous grilles. Derived from the Silverado/Sierra pickup platform, the Tahoe is America’s bestselling full-size SUV, one that outsells its GMC sibling as well as its crosstown rival, the Ford Expedition.

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Offered in ascending LS, LT, RST, Z71, Premier and High Country models, its mission of providing a rugged vehicle capable of hauling people and their hazarai remains unchanged. Its growth spurt has endowed the Tahoe with ample space in the first two rows and a surprisingly amount of space in the third row while still leaving satisfactory space behind it. There are many nooks to place or misplace things. Not surprisingly, the center console is large enough to serve as a bar-top table.

While this space is welcome, you can be forgiven if you feel as if you’re driving a hallway shod with 22-inch all-season tires.

Motivation for this modern Chevy comes from a 5.3-liter overhead-valve V-8 and 10-speed automatic transmission that produces 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. A 6.2-liter overhead-valve V-8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque or a 3.0-liter double-overhead-cam turbocharged Duramax diesel V-8, rated at 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, are available. Both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive are available.

The Tahoe is rated to tow up to 8,400 pounds; the four-wheel-drive RST test vehicle is rated at to 8,200 pounds.

Standard drive assistance features include forward collision alert, following distance indicator, front pedestrian braking and rear park assist. A Driver Alert Package adds lane keep assist with lane departure warning, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert and front and rear park assist. It’s optional on LS, LT, RST and Z71 models and is standard on Premier and High Country. Enhanced Display and Alert Package adds HD surround vision, head-up display, rear camera mirror, rear camera mirror washer and rear pedestrian alert. It’s optional on the Premier and standard on High Country.

So what’s it like to drive? Let’s just say you might want every exterior camera that GM offers. In Western states, where these vehicles are common, its proportions are not a problem. But maneuvering this mobile shipping container in tighter confines calls for care. Its high driving position creates blind spots.

It’s cumbersome to maneuver, although less so than the previous version. That’s alleviated somewhat by the available, and very worthwhile, magnetic ride control suspension. Despite some truck-like jitter over some road surfaces, the Tahoe furnished a comfortable ride while taming ride motions after hitting a bump. Yes, there’s body roll in corners, and the steering feels artificial and light — neither of which are a surprise in this class. There’s more than sufficient power, with the transmission providing prompt downshifts or staying in gear long enough to provide the power requested. Braking is satisfactory.

Keeping you connected is a 10.2-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a Wi-Fi hotspot. It’s very easy to use. Not as easy to use were the many controls buried on the left side of the steering wheel, where they’re hard to see and reach. Nevertheless, fit and finish are noticeably better than previous Tahoes.

The test vehicle’s comfort and convenience are enhanced by the $2,820 luxury package, which adds a high-definition surround view camera, heated power folding side mirrors, a heated steering wheel, power tilt/telescoping steering column, memory front seat settings, power folding second third row seats with second row seat heaters, lane change alert, blind spot alert, parking assist, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist and lane departure warning. In this age of tablets and smart phones, the $2,490 Rear Media and Navigation Package seems less essential in this age of smartphones and tablets.

To its many fans, the Tahoe’s newfound girth is its allure. To them, its capacity is enchanting, its hauling power a necessity. And while navigating most megalopolises might be challenging in a Tahoe, few of its drivers could imagine choosing something else.

And what’s wrong with that?

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2021 Chevrolet Tahoe RST

Base price: $67,190

MRSP: $68,485

Engine: 5.3-liter overhead-valve V8

Horsepower/Torque: 355/383

EPA fuel economy (city/highway): 16/20 mpg

Length/Width/Height: 210.7/81/75.8 inches

Ground clearance: 8 inches

Payload: 1,746 pounds

Cargo capacity: 25.5-122.9 cubic feet

Towing capacity: 8,200 pounds

Curb weight: 5,661 pounds

(Larry Printz is an automotive journalist based in South Florida.
Readers may send him email at TheDrivingPrintz@gmail.com.)
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