When we formally covered the unveiling of the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, we liked how its revamped interior and functionality helped the duo renain a top tier threat in the full-size utility segment. However, the Z71 grade Tahoe represents a very unique opprotunity for Chevrolet to not only have broader appeal with off-road focused buyers, but also help outshine other off-road offerings.
While the Tahoe has had various Z71 packages in the past, the treatment for 2021 goes beyond being a mere marketing ploy, and is perhaps the greatest effort we have seen in truly catching sales in this niche but growing part of the SUV segment. The exterior styling of the Z71 is just as controversial as its more pavement focused siblings, with the front fascia being tweaked for extra ground clearance and a brawnier apperance. That said, we are still smitten by its red tow hooks, as well as the 20-inch rim design that adorned the rig Chevrolet had on display. When compared with members of Toyota’s TRD Pro family, the Tahoe is much closer to matching the Sequoia TRD, with the V8 powered brute being recently launched by the Japanese automotive giant. A two speed transfer case and Hill Descent Control are also standard issue, and allow the Tahoe to have more confidence when undertaking off-road obstacles. The adaptive air suspension’s ability to increase ride height is also a welcome advantage that allows the Chevy to have extra ground clearance for really challenging off-road situations.
The interior also has more character than before, and while the TRD Pro still does a better job of identifying itself as the off-road focused model, the Tahoe Z71 makes up for it by offering more technology and higher levels of interior quality which allow it to surpass the Sequoia in this regard. This is even more remarkable when you consider that not too long ago, the Tahoe was once not considered to be a serious contender in technology and mobile capability, with even the outgoing model coming up short when compared to other rivals. Look for this technology to help bring the Z71 closer to consideration for younger buyers, especially those that want to blend weekend trail busting with the mobile capability and technological functionality that they crave. The Z71 can also be equipped with either the base 5.3 liter V8, or the optional 6.2 liter V8 (the diesel is absent in this trim.) If we had our say, we would be more than happy to sign up for the 6.2 which brings more power to the party when compared with the 5.7 liter in the Sequoia.
As is the case with the rest of the Tahoe/Suburban lineup, look for the 2021 Tahoe ZR1 to make its way to dealerships in the middle of 2020, with pricing, fuel economy figures and other key details being unveiled closer to its official launch. We look forward to experiencing time behind the wheel of the ZR1 version ourselves in the future in its natural habitat to find out if this new chapter of Z71 off-road capability can serve as a serious charge into territory traditionally dominated by some of GM’s biggest domestic and foreign rivals.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.