A generously sized flat-top for making smashburgers, a light and grippy pair of trailrunners for a challenging hike, an upright beach cruiser for pedalling along a shoreside bike path—it makes a difference to have the right tool for the job. In a lot of driving situations, the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 would not be that tool. These full-size SUVs are enormous, thirsty, and ostentatious, yet we frequently see them carrying just a single occupant. But for a 1,400-mile road trip from Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe that included traversing three national parks, tackling gnarly off-road terrain, and shuttling around an entire bachelor party, we can’t think of a single vehicle that would have performed better than the Chevy Tahoe Z71.
It’s shocking how well this behemoth drives. There’s little to no play in the accurate, well-weighted steering, and although the heavy wheels clunked over large impacts, the Tahoe largely irons out minor road imperfections. The Z71 off-road package adds magnetic ride control dampers and air springs that effectively eliminate body roll, too. It makes for an SUV that’s surprisingly at home on the mountain roads of northern California.
The Tahoe Z71 is exclusively offered with Chevrolet’s 5.3-liter V-8 and 10-speed automatic transmission—you can’t opt for the 6.2-liter V-8 or the 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-six. This engine sounds fantastic, delivering a throaty, naturally aspirated snarl you just won’t find with the Ford Expedition’s twin-turbo V-6. That said, with only 355 hp to motivate the Z71’s nearly 6,000 pounds, the smaller V-8 is adequate but not exciting. (Come on, Chevy, give us the Z71 with the 6.2-liter and the diesel!) For the full story, check out this article from Motor Trend.