When General Motors revealed the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban and 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe in a joint debut late last year in Detroit, it showed the all-new full-size SUVs in four models – the Tahoe RST and Z71, as well as the Suburban Premier and High Country. A few weeks later, we spied the Suburban RST roaming the streets, but we have never seen the 2021 Suburban Z71 – until now.
Before we get into the details, it’s worth noting that the all-new, completely-overhauled Tahoe and Suburban are available in six trim levels, LS, LT, RST, Z71, Premier and High Country. Of those, the Z71 is the offroad-oriented trim level that brings unique looks and increased capability to the extended-length, full-size SUV.
|Tahoe||Commercial / Fleet||LS||LT||RST||Z71||Premier||High Country|
|Suburban||Commercial / Fleet||LS||LT||RST||Z71||Premier||High Country|
Based on the popular mid-range LT trim level, the 2021 Suburban Z71 features various unique visual and performance attributes. It all starts with the rugged front fascia unique to the Z71 model. Additionally, the fascia also delivers a higher approach angle to aid off-road capability. A set of 20-inch wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires is standard, as are a front skid plate, red tow hooks, and black and black-chrome exterior accents.
Under the hood, the 2021 Suburban Z71 can be had with one and only engine – the naturally aspirated 5.3L L84 V8 gasoline unit. Output is rated at 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. The GM 10-speed automatic transmission is standard. The more powerful, naturally-aspirated 6.2L L87 V8 is not available, and neither is the 3.0L I6 LM2 turbo-diesel Duramax engine. While it’s perfectly normal for Chevrolet to reserve the big boy 6.2L for only the highest trim levels, but the reason the diesel isn’t available is that it doesn’t fit with the Z71’s front fascia. 4WD with a two-speed transfer case and Hill Descent Control is standard on the new Suburban Z71.
The 2021 Suburban Z71 comes standard with the Premium Smooth Ride suspension, which is a fixed system with passive dampers. Meanwhile, the Air Ride Adaptive Suspension is optional, delivering automatic load-leveling and ride-height adjustment, allowing up to 4 inches (101 mm) of vertical adjustment. In highway driving, the system automatically lowers the ride height ¾-inch (19 mm) to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency, while a driver-selectable setting lowers the suspension two inches (51 mm) to aid passenger entry and exit when the vehicle is parked.
Buyers of the Chevrolet Suburban Z71 will likely be more interested in the additional ground clearance the system offers when driving off-road. The system is capable of increasing the vehicle’s ride height by one inch (25 mm) at low speeds in 4WD HI, and an additional 1 inch (25 mm) at lower speeds in 4WD LO.
In fact, one could make the argument that the Suburban Z71 is the most interesting of all Suburban models, as it combines the gargantuan proportions of the extended-length SUV body with the unique front fascia and available Air Suspension. The model seen here has the suspension in its normal setting, and it already looks menacing. Increase that ride height a bit, and the utility should look even meaner still.
The 2021 Suburban will go into production shortly at the GM Arlington plant in Texas and the very first units should begin arriving at dealers towards the end of the third quarter of 2020.