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It Was Almost A Rotary Dial

2021 Tahoe
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For the first time in decades, the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban will not have a column shifter that’s historically been shared with their pickup truck cousin, the Silverado. As with the loss of a live rear axle, the new 2021 Tahoe and 2021 Suburban full-size sport utility vehicles have shed a few traditional elements in favor of a more modern theme, and the interior space is vastly improved because of it.

Some of you like it, some of you don’t. Regardless on where you stand, we’re all a little curious about the switch in the shifter.

“We looked at several options,” Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe Interior Design Director Michael Stapleton told MC&T. Stapleton said that the design team evaluated options such as a rotary dial, a la Ford Expedition, for the all-new 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and 2021 Chevrolet Suburban. The determining factor was the ease of use and the muscle memory that quickly followed, versus a dial design.

The column shifter is totally phased out, even on the most basic trim levels.

photo by and for

The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban see minimal, marginal gains on the outside, with massive improvements on the inside. Beyond the shifter, the cabin can now be piled high with tech toys such as a 10-inch diagonally measured center stack touch screen, high resolution 12.6 inch diagonally measured touchscreens in the second row, and it’s all powered by GM’s new Global B electronics architecture that allows for super slick displays, with an incredible capacity to process 4.5 terabytes of data per hour.

The 2021 Chevrolet Suburban sees a 4.1-inch (105 mm) increase in the wheelbase and a lower cargo floor, thanks to the integration of an independent rear suspension. No longer is a live rear axle encroaching on interior space. With that, the new Suburban has the most passenger and cargo space of any SUV, with maximum cargo volume expands 19 percent to 144.7 cubic feet even though the Suburban’s overall length increases less than 1 percent.

Meanwhile, the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe sees a 4.9-inch-longer (125 mm) wheelbase and a 6.7-inch (169 mm) increase in overall length to bring 40 percent more third-row legroom a 66 percent increase in cargo volume behind the third row, with max cargo room increasing by a figure of 30 percent.

You can see a specs breakdown comparing the new utility vehicles to the Ford Expedition, as well as the outgoing Tahoe and Suburban here.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Detroit Region SCCA Member and founder of MC&T. Automotive Media Jedi Knight. Not yet the rank of Master.


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  1. Why not use buttons for the gas pedal and brake pedal too. Idiots! Its a CAR FIRST! Shifting is one of those critical car-control features. You rarely get into a situation when you need that kind of control, but when you do this new system will fall short. It had better be FAST when responding to that button. Ever drive in winter? Ever have unexpected brake failure? Ever have to turn around in the face of oncoming traffic in an emergency? What are you going to do? Push and pray…

    Everyone in new car design seems to forget that things break, they fail. When they do, it is up to the driver to escape serious injury for the occupants and the public at large.
    A shift lever, has 100 years of “this thing works” behind it, not to mention an affirmative feeling of positive engagement. Those buttons are already responsible for the death of many people due to failure to engage park when expected. Even a famous actor was driven over by his own car when it failed to engage park.

    I still haven’t met someone who likes a touch-screen in the car. How are those going to hold up for 20 years? These things are supposed to be built to last. A touch screen, in the heat of summer, blasting chill of winter.. day in day out. No way that holds up. How much to fix it? Ouch.
    By the way, want to use the radio by feel? Sorry, you have to LOOK AWAY from driving to operate it. That’s how people get killed. The engineers who signed off on these design choices will have blood on their hands.

    The third row leg-room was all they needed to do on this car to make it a monster success. People will still line up to buy them because there are literally NO other options, it’s Suburban or Yukon XL for large families who need utility.
    Unfortunately, folks will have to hold their noses at this massive over-reach into the margin business of selling cars. These are 60% profit margin monsters.. they really had to save $50 on a column shifter?

    Someone make an after-market upgrade to put transmission control back onto the column and they’ll have one hell of a business going.

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