What is the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe Z71 Off-Road Package?
GM’s Most Off-Road Capable Factory SUV In Decades
If you've spent any time around Chevrolet trucks and SUVs in the past half-century you're undoubtedly familiar with the Z71 off-road package. Over the years this package has morphed from a hard-core collection of off-road hardware to little more than bed-side stickers and then back to a respectable feature set again. The most recent iteration of the Z71 package on Silverado, Suburban, and Tahoe typically consists of Rancho shock absorbers, a few skid plates, and stickers. For 2019 Chevrolet introduced the Silverado Trail Boss, a rugged trim ready for off-road adventure. Not wanting the family to be left behind, the company has reinvented the Z71 package for the 2021 Suburban and Tahoe to be more off-road capable than ever before.
What Does Z71 Include?
The 2021 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe Z71 now feature more unique styling and off-road performance content than ever before. Now a stand-alone trim package residing alongside LS, LT, RST, Premier, and High Country, Z71 features a rugged high-clearance front fascia that provides a greatly improved approach angle. Along with the unique fascia are a pair of horizontally oriented tow hooks, which protrude far enough for easy use should an unlikely recovery be necessary. And of course, the tow hooks are painted red.
Beneath the fascia and behind the tow hooks lives a large skid plate tasked with protecting the trucks vitals from sudden impact. Naturally, Z71 Suburban and Tahoe come equipped with four-wheel drive as standard along with a two-speed transfer case with a dedicated low-range. Hill-descent control is also standard. The whole operation rolls on unique 20-inch wheels and Goodyear Wrangler TrailRunner AT all-terrain tires.
Most interesting is the ability to option the 2021 Suburban and Tahoe Z71 with the company's new, and class-exclusive, four-corner air suspension. This new suspension system allows drivers the advantage of three different off-road driving modes. For tame graded roads the suspension can be left in "normal" height. If the road gets a big rutted the suspension can be placed in "Off-Road 1" mode, which raises the vehicle 1-inch. For the most extreme trails the suspension is able to raise the vehicle 2 inches in "Off-Road 2" for maximum ground clearance. Selecting the air suspension brings with it Magnetic Ride Control, which uses active dampers to continually sense road conditions and automatically make adjustments as necessary on the fly.
What Engine Does (Or Doesn't) Z71 Have?
The biggest disappointment comes in the engine room, where only the 5.3L and 6.2L V-8s are available. That's right, the only trim that the new 3.0L Duramax diesel engine is not available is Z71. While the gassers undoubtedly have plenty of power, we'd love to see the immense torque and fuel range come to the off-road centric Z71.
We're excited to see Z71 finally get its own dedicated trim and to see Chevrolet devote resources to please the off-roading crowd. We do, however, wish they would have ditched the 20-inch wheels in favor of 18s and more tire sidewall, and we're really hoping the red tow-hook craze finds its end soon. Chevy also made no mention of a locking rear differential, but if we were to speculate we'd guess they will come equipped with the GovLock G80 differential, which we loath. An electronically selectable rear (and dare we say front) locker would be preferred. We'll have to save final judgment for when we get an opportunity to wheel one in the wild, but for now we're cautiously optimistic of the off-road chops of Chevy's new family haulers.