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Mark Phelan: The new 2021 Chevy Suburban and Tahoe: 4 questions I have to ask

Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Business News

The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban SUVs are packed with new features, but they also carry a heavy load of questions. The old models were America's best-selling big SUVs by a wide margin, with a commanding 45% share of the market.

It would've been easy to make a few small changes and call the result "new," but GM rolled the dice with radical changes, risking a sure thing for a chance at a bigger payoff. Already big, the SUVs grow up to 6.7 inches longer and swap an old but reliable suspension for a new one that increases comfort but adds weight.

Questions facing Chevy's new SUVs:

Does anybody want a bigger Suburban?

The Tahoe was already one of the biggest vehicles on U.S. roads, but its third-row seat was a penalty box and the cargo space behind it was a bit of a joke in a 17-foot-long SUV. The Suburban only grows 1.3 inches, but at nearly 19 feet it was already the longest vehicle in its class.

Will owners appreciate the extra passenger and cargo space more often than they curse the vehicle's length as they search for a parking space?

 

And what does that do to fuel economy?

All that extra room comes at a cost, and part of the cost is weight. The 2021 Tahoe and Suburban weigh from 50 to 200 pounds more than their predecessors, depending on the model. Holding the increase that low while stretching the vehicles is an accomplishment, but one that will be quickly be forgotten if the new models powered by the 5.3L and 6.2L gasoline engines don't show some fuel economy improvement over the previous smaller vehicles.

It may not be fair, but it's true.

Chevy is guaranteed at least one positive headline on fuel economy: It's a virtual certainty the Tahoe and Suburban's new 3.0L diesel engine will be the most fuel efficient in the segment.

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