Looks, comfort, power, mileage – all should improve in 2020 Chevy Tahoe and Suburban redesign

2020 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe

2020 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe

What changes will make the 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban different?

Just about everything. Expect these full-size body-on-frame SUVs to be completely redesigned for model-year 2020. Look for new styling, fresh drivetrains (including a possible turbocharged four-cylinder engine), and upgraded features to compete with the redesigned-for-2018 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.

Tahoe and its two-foot-longer Suburban platform mate will again share their underskin engineering with General Motors’ other big SUV regular- and extended- length siblings, the slightly more upscale GMC Yukon and Yukon XL and the luxury-class Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV. All these SUVs will again be based on the frame used for the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra, GM’s full-size pickup trucks that are being similarly redesigned for model-year 2019.

The SUV redesigns – their first full makeovers since model-year 2014 – should bolster GM’s standing as the dominant force in a field that includes the Expedition, Nissan Armada, and Toyota Sequoia in the mainstream category and, in the luxury realm, the Navigator, Infiniti QX80, Land Rover Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz G and GL, Maserati Levante, Toyota Land Cruiser, and Lexus LX570. Indeed, Tahoe, Suburban, and Yukon account for roughly 70 percent of mainstream-brand sales in their competitive set and Escalade commands a nearly 30-percent share in the luxury space.

Should I wait for the 2020 models or buy the 2019?

Wait. You’ll be rewarded by a new generation design that, among its advances, should address a chief deficit of the outgoing Tahoe and Suburban: third-seating-row room and comfort. This will likely be solved by switching from a chassis with a sold rear axle to one with a more modern independent rear suspension. (Some reports suggest an independent rear suspension will be optional; we think that’s unlikely.)

Every rival uses an independent rear suspension, which allows for a lower rear floor and better placement of the third row for optimal passenger room and comfort. The current GM SUVs suffer a less space-efficient solid rear axle that forces a raised rear floor. Their third-row seat sits atop the rear axle line, rather than nestling between the rear wheels. Tahoe suffers most, with seating that forces a knees-up poster and cuts legroom to little more than you get in a subcompact car. By virtue of its 14-inch-longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles) the current-generation Suburban offers more third-row legroom than the Tahoe but can’t match the accommodations of its competitors.

Expect the 2020 model lineup to return the base LS, volume-selling LT, and high-end Premier trim levels. For 2019, Chevy added the Tahoe and Suburban Premier Plus with higher-end cabin appointments and a more powerful V-8 engine. Premier Plus might return for 2020 but be rebranded High Country to align it with flagship versions Chevy’s Traverse crossover SUV and its Silverado pickup.

Also returning, likely as separate models instead of option packages, would be the Tahoe and Suburban RST (Rally Sport Truck) editions. They’d again include the more powerful V-8, along with a sport appearance package, GM’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension, and performance brakes.

Given the sweeping changes coming for 2020, we can recommend a 2019 Tahoe or Suburban only if you get one at a very substantial discount.

Will the styling be different?

The 2020 Tahoe and Suburban will likely borrow much of their exterior and interior styling cues from the recently released 2019 Silverado 1500 full-size pickup truck. Evolutionary changes in front should incorporate reshaped daytime running lights and a large Chevy “bow tie” emblem between two thick, horizontal metallic strips in the grille. Other than perhaps a little sculpting in the fenders and some aero-enhancing reshaping at the tail, the balance of the exterior likely won’t look too much different, with the Suburban again essentially an elongated Tahoe.

Count on the interior gaining some welcome functionality. All grades should include touchscreen infotainment with screens of 7 or 8 inches, depending on trim. Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto would be standard. The dashboard’s central control stack will likely feature a more upright design intended to improve access to the most frequently used buttons and knobs. Expect another comprehensive instrument cluster, one that will allow custom configuration of an LCD screen between the analog speedometer and tachometer.

Expect both Tahoe and Suburban to seat eight passengers, or seven in versions with two second-row captain’s chairs in place of the otherwise standard three-place bench. The second-row seats in current GM large SUVs recline but do not slide. Look for that to change for 2020, allowing easier access to the third row. As mentioned, third-row room and comfort should be much improved.

If you want to use all three rows and still have plenty of cargo space, the 2020 Suburban will again be your choice. Expect it to match or slightly beat the outgoing ‘burban’s cargo volume, with at least 40 cubic feet behind the third row, 77 with the third row folded, and 122 with both rear rows folded. Cargo room in the ’20 Tahoe should also expand on the outgoing model’s 15.3 cubic feet behind the third row and 51.7 and 94.7 with the second and third rows folded.

Any mechanical changes?

Many. The 2020 Tahoe and Suburban will keep their truck-type engineering in which their body is attached to a separate frame, as opposed to the car-type unified body/frame structure employed by lighter-duty crossover SUVs. They’ll update, however, by adopting GM’s “T1” architecture that underpins the 2019 Silverado and Sierra. Its chassis backbone is significantly lighter than the current vehicles’ and combined with other engineering improvements, should help reduce curb weight by 300 pounds or more. That would benefit performance and fuel economy.

Unlike their Ford and Lincoln rivals, which relinquished V-8 engines for twin-turbocharged V-6s, the ’20 Tahoe and Suburban will again feature V-8s as underhood mainstays.

The base V-8 will again be a 5.3-liter, likely returning with 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque and again teamed with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Upper-trim and RST versions would get a 6.2-liter with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque and use a 10-speed automatic. Both engines will employ GM’s new Dynamic Fuel Management technology that allows for 17 combinations cylinder activation, automatically varying the number in operation depending on driving conditions; in extremely low-torque demand, the system can even run the V-8 on a single cylinder.

The 6.2 V-8 would be standard on the RST and Premier Plus/High Country and possibly optional on the Premier. An option on certain grades might be GM’s new 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine used in the Silverado. It would likely produce 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque and team with the 8-speed automatic. This would be the first application of a four-cylinder engine in a modern full-size SUV.

LS, LT, and Premier grades would have rear-wheel drive as standard. Optional on those models and standard on the RST and Premier Plus/High Country would be full-time 4-wheel drive (4WD) with low-range gearing for off-road use. The system could be left engaged on dry pavement and would include an “Auto” mode that can automatically distribute power front-to-rear to quell tire slip. Also included on RST and High Country would be GM’s magnetic ride control suspension, which automatically compensates for driving style and surface quality to optimize handling and ride comfort.

Will fuel economy improve?

Yes. The redesigned 2020 Tahoe and Suburban will likely be the most fuel-efficient V-8 full-size SUVs ever.

With rear-wheel drive, expect EPA ratings of around 19/26/23 mpg city/highway/combined with the turbo four-cylinder, 18/25/22 with the 5.3-liter V-8, and 16/23/19 with the 6.2-liter V-8. With 4WD, figure ratings of 18/25/22, 17/24/21, and 15/22/18, respectively. By comparison, city-highway-combined ratings for the outgoing generation Tahoe and Suburban range from 16 to 18 mpg.

The four-cylinder and 5.3-liter V-8 would likely use regular-grade 87-octane gasoline while GM would recommend, but not require, premium-grade 91-octane for the 6.2-liter engine.

Will there be new features?

Count on it. Tahoe and Suburban trim levels should again mirror each other for standard and optional equipment. We are hopeful GM will include driver-assistance features, such as autonomous emergency braking, lane-maintaining automatic steering, and adaptive cruise control as standard across all models, rather than as options on the priciest trim levels.

All grades will likely come standard with LED daytime running lights, Chevy’s well-designed MyLink infotainment interface with built-in Wi-Fi hotspot capability, a power driver’s seat, remote engine start, and three-zone automatic climate control.

The LT grade would include leather upholstery, heated front seats, and an upgraded audio system. The Premier would include ventilated front seats and power-folding second- and third-row seat backs. High Country models would likely have unique trim, upgraded upholstery, and imbedded GPS navigation. RST would have blackout trim, a performance suspension, brakes, and exhaust system.

Will 2020 prices be different?

Almost certainly. Estimated base prices here include Chevy’s destination fee, which was $1,295 on the 2019 Tahoe and Suburban. We’ll also site base-price estimates for rear-wheel drive models; expect 4WD to add around $3,000 to any grade on which it isn’t standard.

Estimated base price for a rear-wheel-drive 2010 Tahoe LS is $51,000. For the LT it’s $55,000 and for the RST it’s $60,000. We project a ’20 Tahoe Premier base price of around $65,000 and expect the High Country to start around $68,000.

Estimated base prices for corresponding Suburban grades are $53,000 for the LS, $57,000 for the LT, $62,000 for the RST, $67,000 for the Premier, and $69,000 for the High Country.

Expect the return of numerous option packages and most buyers will probably continue to gravitate to a 4WD LT with packages that include features such as driver-seat memory positioning, 20-inch wheels, power-adjustable pedals, and front- and rear-obstacle detection. Such a vehicle will probably carry a sticker price in the low-$60,000 range.

When does it come out?

Expect a release date for the 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban in third quarter 2019.

Best competitors

Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada, Toyota Sequoia

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]