First drive: 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe in the UAE
The Chevrolet Tahoe is probably GM’s best known SUV. As one of most popular big SUV’s in this region, this latest generation of the Tahoe is a long time coming, especially as the outgoing model was left wanting while its rivals transformed into near-luxury vehicles.
With design language similar to the Silverado and the Blazer, the new Tahoe is bigger in size as well. The new grille-heavy face may not be to everyone’s taste, but there are several variations to choose from.
Interior space has increased a lot, especially in the third row and cargo space. The new Tahoe swaps the live axle for an independent rear multi-link suspension setup with coil springs, resulting in an increase in third row legroom by 25 cm. Getting into the third row is a quick process with the second row folding forward. And all second and third row seats fold flat to make a cavernous boot.
The interior has a familiar look to the previous generation, which is apparently on purpose to keep their core American customers happy. However, Chevrolet claims better interior materials has been used. The steering column gear shift transmission is no more, being replaced by buttons placed next to the touchscreen.
There is now a standalone Z71 trim instead of being a add-on package, which gets off-road equipment such as standard all-wheel-drive, 20-inch wheels with all-terrain tyres, skid plate, magnetic ride control, air suspension and electronic limited slip differential. Other features include gloss black accents, red tow hooks, leather interior, wireless charging and Bose audio. Our test-drive car had the additional options such as a panoramic sunroof, power and memory pack, and a rear seat entertainment system.
We also had a chance to look at the top Premier model, which gets chrome inserts, 22-inch wheels, dual exhaust system, power side steps, 10-speaker Bose audio system, dual-tone leather interior, navigation, panoramic sunroof and magnetic ride control. Other optional equipment include enhance display & visibility pack, adaptive cruise control, full-speed auto braking, air suspension and second row pilot seats. An available cool box even has its own compressor. The instrument cluster still uses physical gauges, with a screen in between.
Under the hood, the 5.3-litre V8 engine is carried over from the previous model but it now gets dynamic fuel management. Unlike GM’s previous active fuel management system which used to switch off 4 cylinders when not needed, the new system has 17 different cylinder patterns that switches any number of cylinders off based on the driver’s throttle inputs and environmental conditions. So even though the new Tahoe is heavier, it still manages to provide around the same fuel economy numbers as the previous-generation model.
Power from the 355 hp V8 is adequate for overtaking and the daily grind, but it’s not going to set the tarmac on fire. The torque figure stands at 518 Nm. The 10-speed gearbox works well enough. Given that this car weighs 2.5 tonnes, the acceleration is decent, hitting from 0 to 100 kph in less than 8 seconds.
We test drove the Tahoe Premier trim and the first thing we noticed is the lack of floatiness from the previous model, thanks to the optional air suspension. There is a lot less body roll compared to the previous generation. It rides smooth and quiet for the most part, with a muffled noise of the V8 at full throttle and wind noise creeping in at speeds above 100 kph.
We took the Tahoe Z71 for a quick off-road session. The off-road mode raises the car and switches off the traction control, and there is a button to turn off the side airbags so they don’t go off while side-sloping dunes. If you know what you are doing, the Tahoe packs more than enough punch to tackle the dunes, as evidenced in the intermediate route we took in the desert. We can’t quite figure out where it is in the hierarchy of large offroaders without a head-to-head with the Japanese stalwarts, but the Tahoe’s got all the equipment.
All in all, the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe is much improved overall vehicle. All the shortcomings of the previous generation has been addressed in this model, such as the updated suspension, cabin tech and interior space. They even got rid of that grandpa-era column shifter which was a trademark of the older models, which is a sure sign Chevy is serious about their flagship SUV.