Base Camp: 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe LS
Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle on sale in Canada and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we'll let you know. If not, we'll recommend one that earns a passing grade
Despite evidence to the contrary – witness the massive proliferation of car-based all-wheel drive crossovers on your commute this morning – there is still a solid market for large body-on-frame SUVs. Some folks need the space and towing capacity, while others simply like the truck’s (and it they are most assuredly a truck) traditional proportions.
All this helps explain why General Motors poured several cubic acres of R&D into the development of their new-for-2021 Tahoe (and its cousins). While retaining its truck-like clothes, the solid log of a rear axle was binned, freeing up space for an independent rear suspension that provides more space for people and their stuff plus arguably better handling characteristics.
There is, of course, a base model. Offered in LS trim costing $56,498, its two-wheel drive architecture may surprise some but it’s worth remembering that most of our parents skated around in rear-drive vehicles and lived to tell the tales with far less safety tech than today. Powering those back tires is a familiar 5.3L V8 engine making 355 horsepower and hooked to a 10-speed automatic.
Externally, Tahoe LS is identifiable by its 18-inch silver painted aluminium wheels and lacks a few styling features of more expensive trims. What isn’t absent are LED head- and taillights, colour-keyed heated door mirrors, and black textured side steps which further cement Tahoe’s reputation as a truck. Black and white are the only $0 paint colours; everything else costs at least 500 bucks.
Owners of the Tahoe LS will enjoy an interior that should have been introduced on the Silverado two model years ago. Even this base trim is equipped with a 10.2-inch high-res infotainment screen, featuring wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A leather-wrapped steering wheel is shared with more expensive models. The front chairs are power-operated but the second and third rows must be folded manually. Also manual is the rear liftgate, though its glass can pop open separately from the ‘gate itself.
The existence of tri-zone climate control should quell complaints from back seat urchins, not to mention the yaffle of USB ports and power outlets that can keep devices charged and kids occupied. Interestingly, the sticker price is reduced by $275 if opted with a three-across bench seat up front. This surely makes Tahoe and its ilk one of the few three-row SUVs available with a traditional split bench front seat.
What We’d Choose
Unlike some of its mechanical siblings, there’s no shame in driving a base Tahoe. Those piloting the cheapest Yukon or Escalade, which are seen as status symbols in some circles, will eventually want to run their base model truck through a shredder when their neighbour pulls up in a more lavishly equipped model and smiles smugly.
The Chevy is a better workhorse for hauling kids to the rink and schlepping home improvement projects from the lumber yard. Unless one plans to pop for the very excellent (and very expensive) 6.2L V8 engine, a base Tahoe has a strong appeal in this segment.