2021 Chevrolet Tahoe vs. 2021 GMC Yukon: Compare SUVs

The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and 2021 GMC Yukon full-size SUVs are cousins that share their underpinnings, powertrains, features and most options. The chrome-laden Yukon Denali differentiates itself with a slightly tweaked dashboard. The general difference between the two comes down to how much you want to spend and how strong you like your vehicle’s snout.

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

2021 GMC Yukon Denali

2021 GMC Yukon Denali

2021 GMC Yukon Denali

2021 GMC Yukon Denali

Yukons deliver more visual snap and seem taller due to the large vertical outline of the grille while the Tahoe’s horizontal grille emphasises the large SUV’s width. Yukons take on a very similar look from the front as the Sierra pickup truck while the Tahoe takes its design cues from the Silverado pickup with a more refined, less blunt look. But from the windshield back the Yukon and the Tahoe share their massive sheet metal with a strong character line running from the headlights to the taillights. The vertical taillights form a C on the GMC and bleed into the tailgate unlike the less complex units on the Tahoe.

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

2021 GMC Yukon Denali

2021 GMC Yukon Denali

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

The interior design of both feature a 10.2-inch touchscreen rising from the dash, analog gauges, and hard buttons and knobs for the climate and audio systems. Top-shelf Yukon Denali models get a slightly different dashboard that boxes the touchscreen with the air vents above it and surrounds it with matte wood and metallic trim for a premium look. Denali models are the only trim level between the Yukon and Tahoe to not feature a tablet-like touchscreen rising from the dashboard.

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

Inside the Yukon and Tahoe are simply palatial with three rows of seating for up to eight passengers, though base models can be optioned with a $250 front bench seat to haul nine people. Front seat occupants will find comfortable seats that don’t suffer from short seat bottoms like the smaller Chevrolet Blazer. Available second-row captain’s chairs provide a surplus of head and leg room. The third row can fit adults for road trips and still leaves 25.5 cubic feet of space for gear, and that expands to 122.9 cubic feet with the second and third rows stowed.

Hauling stuff isn’t the Tahoe’s or Yukon’s challenge, simply climbing in can be. They are now very tall, though some versions have stationary or power running boards to make climbing in and out easier. The power running boards feature LED lights, which are a nice touch in the dark. There are plenty of hidden and visible storage cubbies and a lockable storage box can be optioned in the center console for $195.

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

Tahoes and Yukons share their powertrain options. Base models are powered by a 5.3-liter V-8 with 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. A more efficient 277-hp 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-6 with 460 lb-ft of torque is available, except for the luxury Tahoe High Country and Yukon Denali models, where the turbodiesel becomes standard. A 10-speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels, though four-wheel drive with a 2-speed transfer case is available as is a max trailering package. Tahoes and Yukons can tow up to 8,400 pounds when properly optioned.

Regardless of engine choice, the 10-speed is buttery smooth and never misses a beat. The smaller 5.3-liter V-8 gets the job done, but even without a trailer behind it there’s no shrugging off the massive SUVs’ weight of more than 5,400 pounds.

The turbodiesel and larger 6.2-liter V-8 both provide far more torque and it’s welcomed in day-to-day driving both off the line and in highway passing power. There’s no real-world fuel economy penalty and once loaded with people, gear, and a weekend toy on the hitch, the extra power will be quite noticeable. Base models all ride on steel springs and passive dampers, but an air suspension system and adaptive dampers are available and improve both ride and handling. The air suspension system eases the exit and entry pains and can increase ground clearance to 10 inches for winter weather.

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

No one’s going to call these large SUVs fuel efficient, even with cylinder deactivation. Base models match up with EPA fuel economy ratings of 16 mpg city, 20 highway, and 18 combined. The most efficient of the bunch is the Tahoe turbodiesel with 21 mpg city, 28 highway, and 24 combined ratings, which is one extra mpg on the highway and combined than the Yukon thanks to the front end being slightly more aerodynamic.

Hauling the family is serious business and both the Yukon and Tahoe know it. Key safety equipment such as automatic emergency braking is standard while a surround-view camera system, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control can be optioned.

The Tahoe’s a smidge cheaper with a base price of $50,295 compared to the Yukon’s $53,290, but four-wheel drive will be an extra $3,000 regardless of which badge is on the front. While base models are well equipped, we’d recommend mid-trim or higher models with their heated and cooled leather seats, Bose audio system, and wireless smartphone charging. Spend up for one of the optional engines for the extra power.

The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe has a TCC Rating of 6.8 while the 2021 GMC Yukon has a TCC Rating of 7.0. The difference comes down to our editorial team feeling the Yukon’s bold looks are slightly more attractive and the high-zoot Denali model nearing Cadillac-levels of luxury.

I’d choose the Tahoe over the Yukon as I prefer its front end and would take my few thousand dollars in savings and put it into optioning the turbodiesel engine for its efficiency, low-end grunt for towing, and refined power delivery.

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