2021 Chevy Tahoe Diesel first drive review: Range queen

GM’s body-on-frame SUVs have always been big, but the 2021 Chevy Tahoe is huge. As this three-row hauler grows by liberal portions in its latest generation, there’s always the concern that bigger equals more thirsty. As electrification is currently non-existent in this segment, that really leaves an option to help mitigate the new weight of the Tahoe: a diesel engine. And it works.

Under the hood is a 3.0-liter straight-six Duramax diesel engine. With 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, it won’t win any competition to wave the tailpipes against competing engines, such as the twin-turbo gas-powered V6 in the Ford Expedition (375 hp, 470 lb.-ft.), But That’s not the point. Chevy dropped the Duramax into the Tahoe to maintain the SUV’s capabilities while giving the car a big fuel economy boost.

If your preconceived notions of diesel engines involve more puffs than a fraternity party, Chevy’s Duramax will drag you into the 21st century. Whether starting it from inside the cabin or remotely from my dining room, this six-cylinder in-line diesel is a smooth, near-silent operator, only really giving off the traditional diesel vibe when I’m close enough to the hood. Seat vibrations are few and far between, if any. Buyers worried about switching from gasoline won’t have to worry much about NVH.

That carefree feeling continues on the road. In town, the diesel’s forward bass engine note doesn’t vary much from some of the competition’s songs, and it’s not like filling up the volume to overwhelm the radio. On the freeway, it blends into the background with that little wind and tire noise making its way inside, leaving me and my imaginary occupants with the pretty cold place to burn a few interstate miles.

And there will be a lot of burns to do. While the 2WD variants are rated at 21 miles per city gallon and 28 mpg highway, the 4WD variants like my tester aren’t far behind at 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. My real-world experience shows even more promising figures; During a couple of hundred miles on Michigan’s 70 mph interstates, I regularly see 30 to 32 mpg stretches on cruises when the traffic flow sticks to the speed limit, dropping to a still impressive 27 or 28 when everyone responds peace. 400 miles per tank is easily achievable, and under the right circumstances I bet I could squeeze 500.

People use these leviathans not only for transporting humans and goods, but for towing as well. Thankfully, Chevrolet didn’t have to spare in that department with the diesel, which in the 2WD form can tow up to 8,200lbs, with my 4WD tester slightly behind the one at 8,000 pounds.

I’m glad to have this RST trim tester ahead of me, because it’s basically the polar opposite of the gas-powered High Country variant that I briefly rode earlier this year. While the HC has erred on the side of luxury, the RST (which stands for, I’m not kidding, Rally Sport Truck) is a bit more racing, with black interior and exterior elements as far as the eye can see, eliminating almost any instance of chrome for excellent effect. That monochromatic look continues inside, with just a few strokes of red stitching to bring things out. No matter where my hands land, I find soft leather or plastic that is sufficiently soft and mottled, mostly suitable for an SUV starting at around $ 50,000 (the RST pushes it closer to a large $ 60).

The front row isn’t the only row that pampers its occupants. While my tester’s $ 2,820 luxury package includes a second-row bench seat, another $ 370 increases that to two separate captain’s chairs with more legroom than I can shake a cane. Hell, even the third row electrically foldable seats are comfortable enough for my 6-foot chassis on the go. Then again, there was better be that plenty of space on offer, considering the body and wheelbase are about 7 inches larger than before with nearly a whole foot legroom again for those on their way back.

The interior of the Tahoe is spacious as heck and powerful and comfortable to boot.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

I’m also excited to drive this Tahoe RST because it packs Chevrolet’s basic suspension, not the expensive air or magnet setups on more expensive models. While they don’t pack as much shock absorber for thrust, static shock absorbers perform admirably, absorbing most of the road nastiness and translating only the most severe bumps and thrills to internal ones. Combined with a new independent rear suspension, optional or not, this is the most comfortable the Tahoe has ever been. Operation remains smooth, thanks to the brake and accelerator pedals that are super easy to modulate, as well as a 10-speed automatic transmission that’s always in the right gear, or a short distance from it.

The involvement of the Tahoe also pays off in other ways. Storage space behind the third row has increased 66% to 25.5 cubic feet and the cargo floor is lower for easier pushing. Each door pocket has a couple of layers of trays and cup holders, as well as two cup holders in the center console and a $ 350 electric sliding center console with a secret compartment under the usual compartment under the armrest. If I have to ditch the third row seats so someone else can throw more trash in the back, I can do it without leaving my seat, thanks to clever overhead switches.

Like every other Tahoe trim, the diesel variants pick up excellent technology. Chevrolet’s latest infotainment system – one I’ve always liked for its simple graphics, quick response, and solid feature set – comes standard, with my tester sporting the largest screen on offer, 10, 2 inches. Includes the usual fare, like wireless Apple CarPlay is Android Auto, plus a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless charger (on all trims, except the LS base). Keeping the kids busy is a $ 2,490 rear seat entertainment upgrade that slaps a pair of 12.6-inch touchscreens in the middle row. Regardless of the location, passengers have plenty of options for charging, thanks to two USB ports in each row.

2021 Chevy Tahoe Diesel

The latest version of the Chevrolet infotainment system is snappy, cute, and feature-packed.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

Standard safety systems are few and far between on the 2021 Chevy Tahoe, limited to forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. My tester’s $ 2,490 luxury package includes blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assistance, parking sensors, and a high-definition surround camera system in the mix, which should honestly come standard on something about the size. of a small cottage. Oddly, me He can not get the Tahoe RST with adaptive cruise control – it’s only available on Premier and High Country finishes, because GM has some weird (probably cost-based) blockages on radar-based assistance systems. Again, I’m surprised licensed drivers get a free pass to fly this thing, so you’d think any help driving under the sun would be standard.

Given all the major leaps forward of the 2021 Chevy Tahoe, it’s no surprise that he’s an expensive brute. While the RST base price of $ 61,395 (including $ 1,295 for the destination) represents a $ 10,000 premium over the full range base price, some modest equipment packages raise the price to $ 70,435 and well-equipped High Country models they can push up to $ 80 S. Oof. Thankfully, the diesel engine itself costs just $ 995 more than the gas engine, so that specific upgrade won’t break the bank.

The Chevy Tahoe is one of the few body-on-frame SUVs left, and two of its similarly structured competitors, the Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia, feel older and less well-equipped than GM’s offering. The Ford Expedition comes close, but it doesn’t have a diesel and is a little less sleek than the Tahoe. It’s impressive how much better the 2021 Chevy Tahoe is than before, and the addition of an affordable diesel engine gives buyers the ability to quench the thirst for a large SUV while retaining capabilities without sacrificing its newfound sophistication.

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