Chevrolet made a turbodiesel engine available on the Tahoe and on the Suburban after a long hiatus, and its bet is paying off. These heavy, body-on-frame behemoths offer crossover-like fuel economy, according to the EPA.
When ordered with rear-wheel drive, the diesel-powered 2021 Tahoe returns 21 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg in a combined cycle. Stepping up to the bigger, heavier Suburban lowers the last two numbers to 27 and 23, respectively. Diesel tends to be more expensive than gasoline in the United States, but the EPA estimates the 3.0-liter is nonetheless $250 cheaper to run annually than the 5.3-liter V8, and nearly $1,000 cheaper than the 6.2-liter eight. Although neither SUV will qualify for a green award, they're surprisingly efficient.
For context, the 5.3-liter V8-powered two-wheel drive Tahoe posts 16, 18 and 20, respectively, while buyers who order the 6.2-liter and rear-wheel drive will see 15, 20, and 17. Lincoln's Navigator, which downsized to a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6, offers drivers 16, 22, and 19. Figures for the four-wheel drive models haven't been published yet, but we expect expect they'll be slightly less efficient due to the extra weight they lug around.
The 21, 28 and 24 mileage figures put the Tahoe in crossover territory. Chevrolet's Blazer, a unibody model that's about 20 inches shorter and at least 1,700 pounds lighter, returns 21, 27, and 23 with front-wheel drive and the entry-level 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Mid-range models with a 2.0-liter turbo four and all-wheel drive post 22, 27, and 24.
Also offered on the Silverado and the Cadillac Escalade, the diesel engine in question is a 3.0-liter straight-six that makes 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. It's bolted to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Like electrified powertrains, diesel engines come with a price premium. Chevrolet hasn't published pricing information yet because the 3.0-liter six is a few months away from reaching showrooms, but adding it to a 2021 Silverado requires moving up to the LT trim and piling about $4,000 onto the cost of a V8-powered model.
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