The Chevrolet Tahoe and the Ford Expedition are by far the most popular large SUVs in terms of sales. They offer big-time capability and utility, even if it comes at the expense of fuel efficiency and comfort compared to more carlike crossover SUVs. Of the two, Edmunds' experts have considered the Expedition to be the better buy in recent years.
But Chevrolet has introduced a fully redesigned Tahoe for 2021. Are its improvements in comfort and technology enough to usurp the 2021 Expedition? Edmunds compared them both to find out.
ENGINE SELECTION AND FUEL ECONOMY
The Expedition comes standard with a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 engine that produces 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. The top Platinum trim has a high-output version of this engine with 400 hp and 480 lb-ft. No other engines are available.
The base Tahoe uses a 5.3-liter V8 engine good for 355 hp and 383 lb-ft. It's comparatively lacking in power, but there are more engine options available: a 6.2-liter V8 (420 hp and 460 lb-ft) that's standard on the top High Country trim or a diesel-powered 3.0-liter six-cylinder (277 hp, 460 lb-ft) that's available on most Tahoe trim levels.
That diesel gets the highest EPA-estimated fuel economy of the bunch with 24 mpg in combined city/highway driving. The Expedition's V6 gets better EPA estimates than the Tahoe's V8s, but Edmunds has found the Tahoe's base V8 to be more efficient in real-world driving. It also runs on regular gasoline; the Expedition requires premium.
PRICE AND VALUE
Getting one of these big SUVs results in a commensurately big price. The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe starts at $50,295 for a base LS trim with rear-wheel drive, including destination fees. A similar Expedition XL isn't too far off at $51,690. Want a luxurious interior and all the features? A Tahoe High Country with some options ticked will check in at around $78,000. A comparable Expedition Platinum will be around $79,000.
You'll find a lot of minor give-and-take in regard to features as you compare the different trim levels. In the end, both SUVs offer a similar mix of features for about the same price.
One of the greatest assets of either the Expedition or the Tahoe is towing capability. Properly equipped, the Expedition has a maximum tow rating of 9,300 pounds, besting the Tahoe's limit of 8,400 pounds.
The tide turns in favor of the Tahoe when it comes to cargo capacity. It has 25.5 cubic feet of space behind the third row and 72.6 cubic feet available if you fold those seats flat. The Expedition checks in at 20.9 and 63.6 cubic feet, respectively. But Ford adds a couple of features that enhance the Expedition's versatility, such as a configurable cargo divider and a rear window that you can open independently of the liftgate.
As close as these top two large SUVs might be in price and capabilities, the Ford Expedition manages to outpace the Tahoe in a few areas. In Edmunds' testing, the Expedition accelerated to 60 mph in a respectably quick 6.9 seconds, while the Tahoe with the 5.3-liter V8 trailed behind at 7.7 seconds. In everyday driving conditions, the Expedition generally feels a little stronger.
As for comfort, Chevy has improved the Tahoe's ride quality for 2021. Both SUVs provide a pleasantly smooth and quiet ride on the highway. But the Tahoe's seat cushioning can feel overly firm in comparison to the Expedition's, making it less comfortable for passengers on long drives.
INTERIOR DESIGN AND TECH
These SUVs have plenty of infotainment features that are easy to operate. The new Tahoe has wireless capability for its Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, which means you can activate these smartphone systems without having to use a USB cord like you do in the Expedition.
The Tahoe's interior design is sleeker and more modern. The touchscreen is bigger and there's a push-button gear selector. But there's something to be said for the Expedition's more logically arranged knobs and buttons. We also prefer the Expedition's advanced safety features. They work more smoothly and are less prone to being overly intrusive in their corrective actions than the Tahoe's.
For the main objectives of towing, hauling and capability, you could see this comparison as a toss-up. But the Expedition is a little more polished in the way it goes about its business. The Ford Expedition remains a top pick in Edmunds' large SUV rankings, with the newer Chevrolet Tahoe in a very close and respectable second place.
This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds.
Mark Takahashi is a senior reviews editor at Edmunds. Twitter: @mark_takahashi.
2021 Chevrolet Tahoe review: https://edmu.in/3awMG0r
Edmunds Chevy Tahoe video: https://bit.ly/3rmYp8J
2021 Ford Expedition review: https://edmu.in/3pKtu5B
Edmunds Ford Expedition video: https://bit.ly/2YFiKtu