GM dominates large utility vehicle lineup

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For buyers needing big space for work or play — and if fuel prices/consumption are inconsequential — the Chevrolet Tahoe should be on the consideration list. This big rig is ideal for short or long hauls, whether fully loaded with up to eight passengers and their gear, or hauling travel or work trailers.

The Tahoe and the even bigger Chevrolet Suburban were redesigned for 2021, including new bodywork, interiors and suspensions. Both have carried forward with few changes.

Compared with the previous model, the Tahoe is more than half a foot longer and has nearly 5 more inches between the front and rear wheels. These increases are reflected in the 3 inches of extra legroom for second-row passengers and 10-plus more inches for those in the third row. Cargo volume behind the third row jumped by a significant 66 percent.

Unless you look closely, it’s difficult to discern the size difference between the Tahoe and Suburban since the dimensions of the latter were increased only slightly for the redesign.

The Tahoe’s shape is big and blocky but with a stylish grille plus subtle creases along the doors and fenders that add to its rugged good looks.

The interior designers replaced the previous column shifter with large push-buttons located on the dashboard next to the standard 10.2-inch touch screen. An 8-inch configurable instrument cluster is available as is a head-up display that can project key driver info (e.g., vehicle speed and GPS mapping) onto the windshield.

The second-row bench seat or optional high-back buckets adjust fore and aft to tailor legroom.

The Tahoe’s independent rear suspension, which replaced the previous solid rear axle, resulted in a lower load floor plus a more comfortable ride over rough surfaces. It really feels like you’re driving a luxury vehicle instead of a truck.

The engine lineup starts with a 5.3-liter V-8 that puts out 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. It feels pretty snappy and it effortlessly gets the 5,800-pound Tahoe up to speed. It has a throaty but subdued tone.

Optional is a 6.2-liter V-8 that makes 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet. An available 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder turbo-diesel is rated at 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet. Although it has the same peak torque number as the 6.2, the turbo-diesel’s is at 1,500 rpm (ideal for heavy-load trailering), compared with 4,100 rpm for the 6.2.

A 10-speed automatic transmission connects to all three powerplants.

Fuel economy for the 5.3 is rated at 15 mpg in the city, 20 on the highway and 17 combined. Expect those values to drop with a full load and/or attached to the trailer hitch. The real fuel-economy champ is the turbo-diesel at 21/28/24.

Prices start at $56,100 for the rear-wheel-drive LS ($59,100 for the four-wheel-drive version), including destination charges. The LS is your only choice if you require a front bench seat.

The next-in-line LT adds a hands-free power tailgate, power-adjustable and heated driver and front-passenger seats, Bose-brand audio system and wireless phone charging.

The sportier RST gets a blacked-out grille, wheels and roof rails plus black perforated leather seat covers.

The Premier and top-level High Country versions are topped with magnetic ride control that constantly adjusts the suspension according to surface conditions and driving style. There are numerous active safety technologies such as lane-keeping assist, pedestrian detection and rear cross-traffic alert. The turbo-diesel is standard with the High Country, but it can be optioned with the 6.2-liter V-8.

The all-terrain 4WD Z71, which lists for $66,200, comes with tow hooks, protective skid plates, side running boards, 20-inch all-terrain tires and a unique front lower fascia to gain clearance for off-roading.

Unless you really need the absolute maximum payload and hauling capacities that the Suburban offers, the Tahoe’s generous dimensions and powertrain variety will just as easily take care of business. The $3,000 base-price savings helps with the choice.

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