Interior design and quality has proven to be a sticking point on the latest generation of Chevrolet Silverado pickups. The powertrains are very good, but as the prices increase, there are more premium experiences available (cough, Ram). Heading into the reveal for the 2021 Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, we were a bit worried that too much of the Silverado would rub off on the reworked full-size SUVs. After seeing the trucks in the flesh, some of those worries were assuaged.
Instead of just copying and pasting the Silverado interior into the Tahoe and Suburban, Chevy designed a new interior specifically for the SUVs. We wouldn’t call the result luxurious, but it is much improved and sufficiently different than the underwhelming Silverado.
Silverado interior (left); Suburban interior (right)
The center stack is a breath of fresh air. It’s no longer one giant slab of black plastic with a mess of buttons. Instead, GM has divided it up into two distinct areas. The top of the stack houses air vents, a push-button shifter and a large 10-inch infotainment system. This screen is integrated into the dash, but it does extend above dash level. Leather or leather-looking material surrounds this part of the center stack, and it looks great considering there will be a more premium GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade to follow. There was even some neat contrast stitching on the trucks we got to see last night. We like what’s below the big screen, too. Retaining physical buttons for the climate control settings is always favorable, and the gaggle of controls appear to be well laid-out and easy to use in the bottom of the center stack.
Our initial impressions tell us that the wall between the driver and passenger has moved downwards in these new SUVs as well, giving the interior a slightly airier feel. GM emphasized that this generation of Tahoe and Suburban will have a brighter interior, as it increased the amount of glass in the trucks. A huge panoramic sunroof is also optional, which will brighten up the interior even more.
Additional “premium materials” jazz up the utility vehicles beyond Silverado standards. The top-of-the-line High Country features special sill plates, seat stitching and expanded color and trim choices. The sporty RST trim has specific seats with contrasting stitching, carbon-looking trim inserts and soft-touch perforated materials all over. Much of this plays second fiddle to the new tech onboard the Tahoe and Suburban, though.
The Silverado maxes out at an eight-inch central touchscreen, but the Tahoe and Suburban come standard with a 10-inch infotainment system running GM’s latest software. An 8-inch digital screen in the instrument cluster is added to the equation on the Premier and High Country trims, and a 4.2-inch screen is fitted on lower trims. We would’ve been intrigued to see a fully digital instrument cluster, but it looks like Chevy is sticking with physical gauges for the speedometer and tachometer. The High Country tacks on a huge 15-inch head-up display in case all the other screens aren’t enough for you. An optional rear seat entertainment package slaps 12.6-inch LCD touchscreen displays onto the headrests for those in the second row to enjoy. They’re about as large as anyone watching a movie inches in front of their face would like them to be. The last screen we’ll inundate you with is the rearview camera mirror. Like the Silverado and other GM products, the mirror will give you a digital feed from a camera mounted out back. It’s beneficial in such a long vehicle with seats, people and luggage conspiring to block your view out the back.
The design and physical appearance of the Tahoe and Suburban interiors is what truly caught our eye in this reveal. Chevy described it as an “SUV-specific” interior, but we hope at least a portion of it manages to migrate to the Silverado for a mid-life freshening soon. It wouldn’t elevate the Silverado over and above the Ram 1500’s gorgeously rugged interior, but it would go a long way in leveling the playing field. We’re excited to see how GM translates this interior into a GMC product when the Yukon is eventually unveiled, too. The Sierra suffers from the same issues as the Silverado does, so a GMC version of this design could lift its spirits in the same way. We don’t expect an update for the Silverado for a little while yet, but when Chevy does find it necessary to breathe new life into the truck, we hope it will be able to integrate the general appearance and design improvements seen in the SUVs.