Until the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe hit the market, the current models offer three trims – LS, LT and Premium – and a number of packages that can be added to specific trims. At the moment, the off-road-focused Z71 package can only be ordered on the LT trim with the 5.3-liter EcoTec8 V8. For the 2021 SUVs, GM rearranged the trim and package combination, keeping LS and LT, adding Premier and High Country, and turning the Z71 and RST packages into standalone trims. All but the High Country come standard with the 5.3-liter V8, the top-dog model slotting the 6.2-liter into its bay. The 3.0-liter inline-six Duramax diesel is also new to the lineups, available as an option on all but the Z71 trim. Seems the Z71-specific front fascia that improves the approach angle interferes with the oil-burner's intercooler and plumbing.
That means the off-road crowd misses out on 460 pound-feet of torque available at just 1,500 rpm – a shame when the driver wants to flick the two-speed transfer case into Low and let the truck walk itself through a stretch of trail. The 6.2-liter achieves the same torque figure, but not until 4,100 rpm.
Based on what we know of trim details so far, GM switched a few items of Z71 kit for the coming SUVs as well. The current package installs upgrades like Rancho shocks, skid plates, that transfer case, and a 3.42 axle ratio instead of the stock 3.08. A pair of fog lights are set low in the front fascia, the standard 18-inch LT wheels are replaced by 18-inch Z71 rims, the engine gets a high-capacity air cleaner, and Front and Rear Park Assist is thrown in to help avoid immovable obstacles. The upgrade list for the new Z71 package leaves off the fog lights, doesn't mention the high-capacity air cleaner, park assist, or a gear ratio different than the stock 3.23, and it bolts on a set of 20-inch wheels.
The changes make the coming Z71 suite appear slightly less rugged than the present offering. Seeing that the big trucks are priced like luxury vehicles, product planners might have shifted the equipment mix based on how owners actually drive – would most Tahoe and Suburban owners notice losing two inches of sidewall? The air suspension and its two off-road height modes could be seen as better suited to buyer needs. Or the package shift could be about the incremental upsell; we figure fog lights, etc., will show up on the options list somewhere. Still a shame that the Z71 with the diesel is a no-go, though.