Top Ten Differences Between The 2020 and 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe
What’s New Under The Skin
The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe is bigger and bolder than ever before. After 25 years and four generations Chevy had no choice but to get this fifth-generation right. To do this the company needed to ensure that the Tahoe was not only engineered for today's needs, but that it would be able to stand the test of time and continue on as the best-selling full-size SUV in America (which it has been for 19 years and counting). Looking from the outside the changes don't appear as radical as one might think. So, let's break down the top ten differences between the current 2020 Tahoe and the all-new 2021 model.
V-8 Improvements - Dynamic Fuel Management and More HP
In 2020 the Chevy Tahoe was offered with two engines; the 5.3L and 6.2L V-8. Both of these engines featured Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation technology. For 2021 both of these engines return, however they have both been updated with GM's new Dynamic Fuel Management, which uses 12 different firing modes instead the two that the outgoing Active Fuel Management used. Power is carryover, 355 hp and 383 lb-ft for the 5.3L and 420 hp and 460 lb-ft for the 6.2L, and fuel economy has yet to be announced.
New Duramax Diesel Engine
We all hoped it and Chevy listened. Along with the pair of V-8 gasoline engines, the new 2021 Tahoe will be offered with the fantastic 3.0L I-6 Duramax diesel engine found in the 2020 Silverado 1500. This engine pumps out 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. In the Silverado this engine is rated at up to 33mph on the highway, so we're hopeful for 30mpg when the EPA releases numbers.
In 2020 the standard transmission was a 6-speed automatic backing the 5.3L V-8. The optional 6.2L V-8 came backed by GM's new 10-speed automatic. For 2021 the 10L80 10-speed transmission is the only option.
Push Button Gear Shifting
Speaking of the transmission, this new adaptation of the 10L80 utilizes a push-button gear selector in place of the outgoing legacy column shifter. While we're disappointed to see the demise of the column shifter, we feel like this new digital range selector is a better solution than some others on the market (looking at you pistol-grip "Prius" shifter). Only time will tell how well folks adapt.
Independent Rear Suspension
Probably the most striking change, other than the available diesel engine, is the swap from a solid rear axle to an independent setup. Making this change required that an entirely new chassis be developed for the truck. Aside from the obvious ride and handling improvements, this also allowed for the rear floor to be lowered substantially. The front suspension and frame section are carryover from the new Silverado, so if there was ever a chassis for an IRS full-size pickup to be based on this is it. Remember, we called it first.
More Rear Seat Leg Room
As we mentioned above, the new independent rear suspension allowed for a much lower cabin floor. The result of this was the gain of more than 10 inches of leg room for third row passengers. What used to be a torturous experience is now entirely tolerable, even for full-size adults. The second row gained 3 inches of leg room as well.
Increased Cargo Space
A big complaint we've heard frequently is the fact that there's almost no storage behind the third row of seats in a 2020 Tahoe. And we don't disagree. If you actually need to haul six or seven people you better hope there no baggage coming along with them. For 2021 Chevrolet has increased the wheelbase of the Tahoe by 4.9 inches and the overall length by 6.7 inches. What the means practically is an increase in cargo space of 66-percent, or 10.2 cubic feet, behind the third row.
SUV Specific Interior
For generations the Tahoe has shared much of its interior styling with the Silverado pickup. Now, for 2021, this all changes. And after seeing it in person all we can say is wow. For being early pre-production trucks the panel gaps were perfect, touch points were on point, and the materials felt acceptably upscale. We love that the seatbelts adjust again, there's plenty of physical buttons, and a decent amount of storage space. This is the interior that we wish Silverado would have hint hint.
Standard 10-inch Touch Screen
Ram seemingly started the trend of bigger-is-better in the world of mainstream infotainment screens, but now it seems that everyone is jumping on board. The new 2021 Tahoe comes standard (you read that right, standard) with a 10-inch touch screen infotainment center. Optional are an 8-inch driver information screen, a 15-inch head up display, and a pair of 12.6-inch LCD tablets for rear seat entertainment. As a bonus you can also add the optional rearview camera mirror.
Magnetic Ride Suspension
New for 2021 is the fourth-generation of the beloved Magnetic Ride Control dampers. These active shock absorbers process data at an alarmingly quick rate and adjust on the fly to tune out road imperfections. They can be optioned with either steel coil springs (dual-rate in the rear) or with the also-new-for-2021 four corner air suspension. This new air suspension has the ability to lower the vehicle by 2 inches for easy entry, raise 2 inches for off-road ground clearance, and will automatically lower of an inch while on the highway for increased aerodynamics. Both the air suspension and Magnetic Ride Control are class exclusive.
Bonus: Three New Trims
In 2020 you could order a Tahoe in three trim levels: LS, LT, and Premier. Sure, there were a handful of packages that could be added to these trims, like RST, Z71, and Custom, but there were still just the three trims. Now, for 2021, you can order your Tahoe in either LS, LT, RST, Z71, Premier, or High Country. You're seeing that correctly, RST and Z71 go from packages to dedicated trim levels, and High Country gets added from the Silverado stable. Only time will tell what this means for custom add on packages (please be give us a Z71 Trail Boss, we've been good all year!)