Last week, General Motors revealed the all-new 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and 2021 Chevrolet Suburban during a media event in Detroit, Michigan. We assisted the main presentation at Little Caesars arena, but we also got a chance to ride in a camouflaged pre-production Chevrolet Suburban a few hours before the unveiling. The event was held at the GM Milford Proving Grounds where no cameras or smartphones were allowed.
Here are our impressions of this first experience aboard Chevy’s new generation of full-size SUVs.
The 2021 Chevrolet Suburban and the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe are very important (read: profitable) vehicles for General Motors, as more than 340,000 units are sold each year worldwide. To put things into perspective, one Tahoe or Suburban rolls out of the GM Arlington plant every minute.
The new Suburban and Tahoe will come in a variety of trim levels, including LS, LT, Z71, RST, Premier, and for the first time, High Country. Three engine choices will be offered, notably the turbo-diesel 3.0L LM2 inline-six that’s part of the Duramax family, plus a pair of gasoline V8s that includes the standard 5.3L L84 and the optional 6.2L L87. Output reaches up to 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque for the optional 6.2L unit. All engines mate to the standard GM 10-speed automatic transmission with Electronic Precision Shift technology.
There could even be a full-on electric variant in the near future, but that has yet to be confirmed by GM. However, GM Authority has previously reported that a Cadillac Escalade EV is planned, which shares the GM T1 platform with the Suburban and Tahoe, as well as with the 2021 GMC Yukon, which will be revealed in January.
Our time in Milford was brief, but it still allowed us to paint a clear portrait of what to expect from the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban. The brand’s staff first asked us to hop into a Ford Expedition Max powered by the Ford 3.5L EcoBoost engine – the Suburban’s direct rival.
What Chevrolet primarily wanted to show us was how its new independent rear suspension performed over uneven roads compared to Ford’s setup. As in the previous-generation model, the new Suburban will offer optional Magnetic Ride Control dampers, in addition to a first-in-class Air Ride Adaptive Suspension with load leveling and up to four inches of ride height adjustment.
The first run had us flying down Milford in the big Ford at fairly high speeds, driving over bumps, pavement undulations, cracks and changing surfaces. We then sat in a Suburban equipped with the air suspension, and repeated the experience twice, at even higher speeds.
From the passenger seat, we felt the big Suburban demonstrated far less chassis wobble than the Expedition when driving over uneven ground, especially while taking on a sharp corner. Driving over large speed bump-style obstacles during the exercise also proved to be much smoother in the Chevy, while the Ford exhibited far more body motions.
The Suburban also impressed us by how well it handled on Milford’s winding course as our instructor was literally nailing it through the bends. This despite the Suburban and Tahoe’s slightly higher curb weight compared to their predecessors, even though the new SUVs use aluminum body panels to save a few pounds.
While short, our experiment allowed us to observe a significantly more refined truck than the Expedition, providing a more relaxed and controlled ride throughout the run. That said, we much preferred the seats in the Ford.
From a powerplant standpoint, the Suburban’s 6.2L V8 not only sounds better than Ford’s twin-turbocharged V6, it delivers much smoother acceleration, allowing the Suburban to come through as a more polished and more mature full-size SUV.
To fully evaluate GM’s new rigs, we’ll have to wait until we drive one for ourselves, but so far, consider us impressed by the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban as a whole. We’ll have much more coverage of these new full-size SUVs, so don’t forget to subscribe to GM Authority for more Chevrolet Suburban news, Chevrolet Tahoe news, Chevrolet news and around-the-clock GM news coverage.