Type to search

2021 Chevy Tahoe: Controversial styling, gearshift bring on the comments

Avatar photo

I’m going to start this review with the song lyrics: “Second verse, same as the first.” I mean, I literally just drove the 2021 GMC Yukon, and well, frankly, I’m not sure how to differentiate that humongous SUV from the 2021 Chevy Tahoe, which is a carbon copy humongous SUV.

I know them’s fighting worlds in the GMC vs. Chevy fan world. But it’s honestly true. Take off the badging, and I wouldn’t know which vehicle I was driving. They’re that similar.

So, rather than regurgitate here what I said there – ride, handling, and drive position are basically the same – I’m going to talk about styling, and then I’m going to address a couple of the more common comments and questions we’ve gotten about the Tahoe from our social media posts.

You should also be sure to check us out on YouTube, because Tim Esterdahl and I are trying something a little different with the Tahoe. We did a co-review – with Tim shooting from Nebraska and me shooting in Chicago. We had fun doing it, and if you like it, we’ll probably be doing more of them in the future.

What’s the difference between Tahoe and Yukon?

Well, the biggie is styling. While the profile and platform are identical, the design is unique on each vehicle.

Let’s start with the interior. Both vehicles share the button-style gearing and a lot of the same amenities (think: rear-seat entertainment and power-sliding console), but the layout of the center stack is vastly different. The Tahoe has an infotainment screen that pops up out of the dash, whereas the Yukon’s is integrated into the dash.

I actually like the Tahoe set up better as a petite driver because the dash overall is a bit lower and provides better visibility out the windshield.

2021 Chevy Tahoe

2021 Chevy Tahoe (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

Exterior design falls along family lines, with the Tahoe looking like the Silverado from the front and the Yukon getting a bigger-than-live chromy grille.

Another difference: The 4WD system. Yukon’s is slightly upgraded over the Tahoe’s, adding an electronic Limited Slip Differential.

Though you might think pricing is the last huge difference, oddly, it isn’t. Base price for the Tahoe at the 2WD LS trim is $50,295. The Yukon at the base 2WD SLE trim only adds $1,700 to the bottom line. The difference between the Tahoe 4WD Premier trim with the 6.2-liter engine and Yukon Denali with the same setup is even slimer at just $175. Without options, both vehicles are just under $73k.

So, really, badge loyalty and styling. That’s what sets these two vehicles apart.

2021 Chevy Tahoe

2021 Chevy Tahoe (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

The polarizing styling

We’ve been fielding a lot of comments about the styling on the new Tahoe, and in fact, we touched on it briefly during a recent livestream. But the grille and front lighting signature seem to be the love-it-or-hate-it type. Which is interesting since it exactly mimics the front end of the new Silverado.

For me, I thought it looked nice on my test vehicle, which was Shadow Gray Metallic, but it looked a bit jarring on Tim’s, which was Summit White.

One of the biggest comments/complaints I heard, however, was from TikTok. I posted a quick video of the front and rear lighting and people flipped out over the incandescent lights for the rear turn signal – especially in contrast to the LED light used for the front signal.

@jillciminilloReply to @user84885922889210874374 checking out the turn signals in the ##Chevy ##Tahoe. ##cardujour ##carsoftiktok♬ Run free – Deep Chills feat. IVIE

The button-style gearshift

The new gearshift on the Tahoe is another huge point of contention. Of course, you’ll always have people who just want a column shifter, but this new button gearing has people not only pining for the console shifter but also worrying about how it will kill their kids. No joke.

While we’ve seen button gearing on previous vehicles – such as the SUVs from Lincoln – this is the first time we’ve seen a push/pull system that requires you to push a button for Park or Neutral and then pull a lever for Drive or Reverse. So, in addition to people not liking the buttons, we’ve heard plenty of comments about the overall weirdness of the system.

2021 Chevy Tahoe

2021 Chevy Tahoe (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

The more interesting comments about the gearshift, however, came from TikTok, where numerous parents expressed concern over their kids climbing into the front and pushing or pulling the buttons and having the vehicle roll away with their kid inside.

So, I did an experiment to allay some fears, sharing in another TikTok video that pushing and pulling will not change the gears if you don’t have your foot on the brake, and nothing will happen if you try to change gears when the vehicle is off – regardless of whether you have your foot on the brake.

While there are a lot of opinions about this floating around the interwebs, ironically, this isn’t something Tim and I have a strong opinion about.

@jillciminilloA message to parents about the gearshift in the 2021 ##chevytahoe. It’s safe!! ##carsoftiktok ##cardujour ##chevy♬ original sound – Jill Ciminillo

The bottom line on the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

This is a large vehicle, which makes more sense in the suburbs or country – as we point out in our co-review – but the 2021 Tahoe is a tough vehicle for city living. Plus, seat comfort is iffy at best.

We both liked the power of the 5.3-liter V-8 and appreciated some of the available amenities – like power-folding third-row seats and surround-view cameras – but for my money, I’d lean more toward the Ford Expedition. Sure, the styling is old school, but the seat and ride comfort is better.

Related posts:

2021 GMC Yukon Denali: Next-gen Yukon gets tons of tech, holds line on price

2020 Infiniti QX80: A plush and sophisticated full-size SUV

VIDEO: 2020 Chevy Silverado LT Trail Boss, 6.2L V8 Owner Review



Avatar photo
Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is the Managing Editor for Pickup Truck + SUV Talk as well as a Chicago-based automotive writer, YouTube personality and podcast host, with her articles and videos appearing in outlets throughout the U.S. Additionally, she co-hosts a weekly radio show on car stuff for a local Chicago station. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for both newspaper and broadcast media conglomerates. She is also a past president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization. Jill is also currently a juror for the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY).

  • 1

You Might also Like

1 Comment

  1. B. Finn December 16, 2020

    Has anyone driven the diesel one yet? That may be the sweet spot for the big SUV to get better mpgs. The buttons will continue if people buy them and there aren’t issues. My f-150 poor man’s XLT(STX XL) has a column shifter so I am happy. Dont like buttons..apparently you dont like the Titan’s baseball bat either! 🙂 Good reviews from the both of you.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Stories