The Car Connection Chevrolet Tahoe Overview
The Chevrolet Tahoe full-size SUV offers spacious seating for up to nine and can tow up to 8,400 pounds. Based on the Chevy Silverado pickup truck, it's not as big as the Chevy Suburban, but not many things are.
With the Tahoe, Chevrolet has a rival for vehicles like the Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada, and Toyota Sequoia—not to mention GM's own family of Suburban, Yukon and Escalade utility vehicles.
MORE: Read our 2021 Chevy Tahoe review
In its most luxurious High Country trim, the Chevy Tahoe dukes it out with Yukon Denali, Infiniti QX80, even the Mercedes GLS. It can cost as much as those vehicles, too.
The new Chevrolet Tahoe
Redesigned for 2021, the Tahoe gets longer, larger, roomier, comfier, and loaded with standard safety and convenience features. The longer wheelbase and additional 6.7-inches of length best accommodates third-row riders, with 10 inches more leg room, sliding second-row seats, a flat floor so knees aren't riding as high as navels, and 30% more cargo room to 25.5 cubic feet with all seats up.
Built on the Silverado pickup truck platform and a tad smaller than the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban full-size SUV, the Tahoe wears the broad, big design cues of the Silverado. A wide, steep grille, and large box-shaped body conceal the more refined touches available inside.
Three engine choices, a standard new 10-speed automatic transmission, and a new independent rear suspension promise a Tahoe for any taste. A pair of familiar V-8s migrate from the Silverado, and a turbodiesel inline-6 launches later for the 2021 Tahoe. The base engine for the rear-wheel-drive Tahoe is a 5.3-liter V-8 that makes 355-horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque and can tow up to 8,400 pounds, down from the preceding model's 8,600-lb capacity. Standard on the top High Country trim is a 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8 that makes 460 lb-ft. The 277-horsepower 3.0-liter inline-6 turbodiesel making 460 lb-ft promises to be the highway fuel economy king, and is expected to outperform the EPA-rated 16 mpg city, 20 highway, 18 combined on the 5.3-liter. Four-wheel drive costs $3,000 extra except on the Z71 trim, where it is standard.
Offered in LS, LT, RST, Z71, Premium, and top High Country trims, the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe offers more comfort, convenience, and safety as you climb the trim ladder. For the kind of comfort and quiet you don't normally find on a body-on-frame platform, the Tahoe's higher trims can be had with adaptive magnetic dampers to soften the road and a four-corner air suspension that automatically lowers at highway speeds or can be manually adjusted by up to four inches for lower entry or higher ground clearance to leave behind the paved path.
Fleet and base LS models seat up to nine with a front 40/20/20 bench seat, but most Tahoes seat eight passengers or seven when equipped with comfy second-row heated bucket seats. The 2021 Tahoe comes with clever storage solutions thanks in part to an electronic gear shifter that moved from the steering column to the center stack. The family hauler comes well equipped with a large 10.2-inch touchscreen, smartphone compatibility with wireless charging, power liftgate, heated front seats with power-adjustable lumbar support, and other features. Available options run the gamut from a rear-seat entertainment center to a power-sliding center console that moves 10 inches.
The large Tahoe should perform well in crash tests, but in reality it should be able to minimize or avoid crashes with standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. But GM limits the availability of other safety features such as active lane control and blind-spot monitors to the higher-priced models. Adaptive cruise control doesn't even come standard on the pricey High Country trim, which starts at about $73,000.
Chevy Tahoe history
The Tahoe arrived in the 1995 model year, replacing the Blazer badge and was teamed with a four-door model. Based on the big GM trucks, the Tahoe was powered in most cases by a big 5.7-liter V-8. A turbodiesel version found few applications and few buyers. In this generation, sold until the 1998 model year, GM added a driver-side airbag and a luxury-trim Limited package, which was sold in the 2000 model year. This version overlapped with the entirely new "GMT800" Chevy Tahoe, which was new for the 2000 model year.
The 2000-2006 Chevy Tahoe again offered a choice of V-8 engines, either a 4.8-liter V-8 or a 5.3-liter V-8, separated only by 10 hp. A 4-speed automatic took care of shifting in all versions, and the Tahoe came in rear- or four-wheel-drive versions. A more genteel look wasn't quite matched by a lackluster interior, but with good towing capacity and additions like stability control and more airbags, the Tahoe rode the SUV wave of popularity to become a best seller in the Chevy truck lineup.
GM advanced its plans to replace the GMT800 trucks and SUVs with a GMT900 family of vehicles—and the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe proved the move worthy in mechanical terms, even if SUV sales were about to fall off a proverbial cliff. The new Tahoe's crisp lines, and improved body rigidity lent it a mature, even sophisticated look—one matched by a handsome interior. All the towing and hauling capability carried over, with a more comfortable five- or six-seat interior package—but the powertrains got a fuel-economy boost that was offset on the marketing side by the addition of a 403-hp, 6.2-liter V-8.
Chevy introduced a Tahoe Hybrid in the 2009 model year. It used a 6.0-liter V-8 making 332 hp backed by a two-mode transmission that was engineered with cooperation among General Motors, Daimler, and Chrysler. Fuel economy ratings were as high as 20 mpg in the city and 23 highway. The large battery pack was located below the second row of seats, which compromised space and interior flexibility, while towing was also down, to a max of 5,000 pounds.
Through 2013, changes were minimal to the Tahoe lineup. Trailer Sway Control was added for 2012, and Powertrain Grade Braking was a new addition for 2013; both enhance towing stability and safety. The Tahoe Hybrid was dropped after the 2013 model year.
Redesigned for 2015, new features included a touchscreen infotainment system, lane-keeping assist, and Apple CarPlay. Changes for 2017 were minor—mostly trim and features repackaging—save for the addition of automatic emergency braking, a teen-driver alert system, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
For 2018, the Tahoe lineup grew with the addition of the RST—or Rally Sport Truck—package that became a trim level for 2021. In addition to a more buttoned-down suspension with unique styling bits, the RST was upgraded with a 6.2-liter V-8 and Brembo brakes.