Just recently redesigned from the ground up, Chevrolet is now rolling out their new 3.0-liter Duramax inline-six turbo-diesel engine into the full size 2021 Tahoe and Suburban as an option.
This is the first time a diesel has been offered in a Chevrolet SUV since 1999 when the V8 Duramax could be had in an HD Suburban. With the announcement of the new inline-six Duramax for the current models, it has been announced that with it, the Tahoe becomes the most fuel-efficient full-size SUV in its class.
The Duramax Chevrolet Tahoe achieves an EPA-estimated 28 highway, 21 city and 24 combined mpg in rear-wheel-drive models. 26 highway, 20 city and 22 combined mpg can be achieved with four-wheel drive.
With the larger and heavier Suburban you get near the same results with an EPA estimated 27 highway, 21 city and 23 combined mpg in two-wheel drive models and 26 highway, 20 city and 22 combined mpg with four-wheel drive.
With 277 horsepower and the all important 460 lb-ft of torque, the Tahoe Duramax with two-wheel drive is the tow beast with a maximum 8,200 pound capacity and payload of 1,717 pounds. The Suburban comes in just slightly less with 8,000 pounds of tow and a max payload of 1,625 pounds.
The engine comes with a standard exhaust brake that operates in to-haul mode and gear changes are taken care of through a standard 10-speed automatic transmission.
While the new 3.0-liter Duramax turbo-diesel has been around since its introduction in the 2020 Silverado, a few tweaks have been made to SUV duty. Sound attenuation has been given special attention, meaning they made it quieter and it also gets a faster ECU.
The only unfortunate item of note is that it comes with that all-annoying engine idle start-stop system we all hate. Luckily it can be turned off, but every time you get in the vehicle.
Interesting to me is the pricing and availability strategy. Nice to see up front is that the engine is available all the way down into the LS and LT trim grades in addition to the higher ups. Further surprising is that pricing is only $995 for the diesel engine option.
Most automakers only allow you the diesel in the top trim grades and still charge $4000 and up. So when we look at the top-end High Country trim and see that the Duramax is actually $1500 cheaper than the 6.2-liter V8 one really has to see that they are encouraging people to opt for the diesel. Again, very uncommon.
My best assessment of this pricing strategy is that it’s a way for Chevrolet to push sales mix more toward a more favorable corporate average fuel economy rating (CAFE) in the total fleet.
The last and final surprise is that Chevrolet isn’t making us wait eons for it. They tell us the Duramax Tahoe and Suburban will start showing up at dealerships by year’s end.