The Chevy Suburban and Tahoe are well-known SUVs that have been in production for decades. The Suburban is the longest active nameplate in the global automotive industry, with its first use occurring in 1934. The more recent SUV iteration first appeared in 1999 and has its sixth generation ready to hit showroom floors soon. Also new is the venerable Chevy Tahoe, which is very similar and makes a comparison of the 2021 Chevy Suburban vs 2021 Chevy Tahoe a necessity.
Both SUVs are very popular “family trucksters” that have three rows of seating for up to nine passengers. Both have four doors plus a rear liftgate for ample access to seating and cargo areas. The Suburban has more cargo space as well as more headroom among the rear-most seats. The Tahoe is nimbler and more aerodynamic with slightly less cargo space. Both are real winners that deserve a closer look at what they both do well and do differently.
Three Shared Engines
The Suburban and Tahoe share three motors across all trim levels. Two are beefy V8s, and the third a turbo-diesel inline-six from Duramax. The diesel is an option on all trims except the off-road Z71 trim. The three motors for the 2021 Tahoe and Suburban are the:
The EcoTec3 5.3-liter V8 gives you 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission smooths out the power delivery to either two or four drive wheels. The 5.3-liter V8 is standard on the LS, LT, RST, Z71, and Premier editions of the Tahoe and Suburban. Direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, and onboard cylinder deactivation maximize fuel economy.
The EcoTec3 6.2-liter V8 delivers up to 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed transmission sends the power to two or four drive wheels. The 6.2-liter V8 is standard on the Tahoe, and Suburban High Country trim levels and an option for the other models. The 6.2-liter V8 enjoys direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, and cylinder deactivation when all eight are not needed, like on a long cruise down the freeway with no trailer or cargo to haul.
The Duramax 3.0-liter inline-six turbo-diesel gives up to 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque that a 10-speed automatic sends to your choice of two or four drive wheels. This engine is scheduled for late availability. The Duramax diesel is a completely new unit for 2021 and features an aluminum engine block, iron liners in the cylinders, and a forged-steel crank. Blended aluminum and silicon pistons help to dissipate heat. The diesel engine is available on the LS, LT, RST, Premier, and High Country trim levels. It is not available for the Z71 models.
In some GM vehicles, the 6.2-liter V8 is the heart of a truly phenomenal sports cars. In the Suburban and Tahoe, those motors are tuned for hauling rather than working. They do enable more than 4 tons of towing capacity. The diesel option can add range to a potential long haul, but both gasoline V8s also give lots of towing power with reasonably good fuel economy for such large and heavy vehicles.
All engines are mated to a new 10-speed automatic that is making its rounds among the larger-displacement vehicles in the General Motors grouping of vehicles. The 10-speed helps to equalize revs when shifting and make it much easier to keep the engine humming along at optimal RPMs, no matter the speed or load that you might need to haul. The Tahoe and Suburban are just as happy running errands in town or pulling a family camper on long summertime adventures.
Fully Independent Suspension Added
The rear ends of the new Tahoe and Suburban get a fully independent suspension that greatly improves ride quality. A redesigned chassis accepts a multi link suspension in the rear that makes the Tahoe and Suburban more responsive to driver inputs. Neither will threaten cars at the racetrack, but either is an amply suited long-distance cruiser that can carry lots of people or cargo. Wheels range from 18 inches to 22 inches on the High Country trims for either SUV.
The Suburban, in particular, gets an improved ride with the addition of magnetic ride control that comes standard on the High Country and Premier trim levels. The magnetic ride control continually scans the roadway and adjusts the suspension to provide the ideal level of suspension damping. That helps to absorb bumps and vibrations that the standard suspension on prior models transferred to the chassis. The smoother ride and improved handling are certain to make the 2021 models especially popular.
Ample Passenger Accommodations
Three rows of seating are spread out among a lengthened chassis for 2021. The Tahoe grows by almost 5 inches to 120.9 inches from axle to axle. The Suburban goes even further with a wheelbase measuring 134.1 inches. That is 4.1 inches longer than the 2020 model and greatly improves ride and comfort. Both SUVs have suitably long bodies, with the Suburban spanning 225.7 inches while the Tahoe comes in at 210.7 inches.
That longer wheelbase and cabin adds up to more room for passengers and cargo. The Tahoe gets bigger by more than 18 cubic feet to nearly 180 cubic feet of available passenger and cargo space. The Suburban grows by almost 6 cubic feet to nearly 182. The longer wheelbase and larger space for passengers add up to more legroom and headroom for passengers in the second, and especially the third rows of seating.
The 2021 Tahoe officially has 25.5 cubic feet of cargo space in addition to all of its passenger room. That is more than 10 cubic feet of additional cargo room over the 2020 model. The Suburban grows by almost 2 cubic feet of cargo space for more than 41 cubic feet when all seats are in use. Folding down the rear seats or removing them always adds much more cargo room.
Both SUVs come equipped with premium audio and support streaming devices. A 10-inch touchscreen is standard, and the drivers’ gauge cluster measures just over 4 inches tall while a larger 8-inch screen comes with the High Country and Premier models of the Suburban and Tahoe.
Safety Features Prevent Mishaps
Many great and cutting-edge safety features help to make the Tahoe and Suburban much safer than their predecessors. Among standard safety features for 2021 are front pedestrian braking, automatic emergency braking, and forward collision alerts. Automatic headlights that adjust for outdoor lighting conditions also are standard, along with rear parking assistance and high guidance for hooking up a trailer.
Optional safety features include lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and rear pedestrian alerts when backing up. With such large vehicles plying the roads and navigating in-town traffic, it helps to have as much additional help as possible to prevent accidents. That is especially true when pulling a trailer with an already very large SUV.
Ultimately, the choice between the 2021 Chevy Suburban vs 2021 Chevy Tahoe comes down to your most likely use. Those who need more cargo space and room for coworkers or mostly adult passengers likely will find the Suburban to be a better option. When looking for a more family-oriented SUV, the Tahoe and its slightly more sleek design performs admirably. Either SUV can function perfectly well as either a work truck, a family daily driver, or both.