2021 Chevrolet Tahoe vs Ford Explorer
The rivalry between Ford and Chevrolet is unlike any other in automotive history. These two automakers are giants in the industry. Both of these American manufacturers have fascinating stories filled with milestones and innovations. These two companies also have fiercely loyal fan bases. Any vehicle produced by one company will always be compared to its counterparts made by the other.
Some industry analysts insist that the full-size SUV market is slowing down and making way for smaller models and crossover vehicles. Make no mistake, though, plenty of buyers have a need for the extra passenger room and cargo space that only a full-sized SUV can provide. That's where the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and the 2021 Ford Explorer come in.
The Chevrolet Tahoe has been around in one form or another since 1992. Its latest iteration offers three rows of seats to accommodate from seven to nine people. It provides a comfortable interior and impressive towing capabilities. The Ford Explorer first rolled off of assembly lines in 1990. The 2021 model provides a smooth ride, excellent handling and room for up to seven people.
Chevrolet's 2021 Tahoe is available with three different engine choices. There's a 5.3-liter V8, a 6.2-liter V8 and a 3.0-liter Duramax turbo-diesel engine. All models come stock with a 10-speed automatic transmission system. Most trim levels are available with either 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive.
The 5.3-liter engine produces around 355 horsepower with 383 pound-feet of torque. The larger 6.2-liter V8 can crank out 420 horses and 460 pound-feet of torque. The diesel option makes 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. With all of that power and torque, acceleration is good for a vehicle of this size and weight no matter what engine is chosen.
All models get 4-wheel antilock disc brakes to provide plenty of stopping power for this large and powerful SUV. The smaller V8 has a combined fuel-economy rating of 18 miles-per-gallon. The larger V8 comes in at just 17 miles-per-gallon. Last of all, the turbo-diesel fares the best here with a rating of 24 miles-per-gallon.
A Tahoe equipped with the 5.3-liter engine can tow up to 8,400 pounds. The High Country model with the larger V8 can tow 8,300 pounds, and the turbo-diesel can pull up to 8,200 pounds. All of these numbers are from Tahoes with the optional trailering package. Chevrolet offers a bumper-to-bumper warranty for 36 months or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. The powertrain is covered by warranty for up to 5 years or 60,000 miles.
The latest Ford Explorer has two different powertrain options. There's a 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine and a 3.0-liter V6. Both engines are turbocharged for extra power. The base engine makes 300 horsepower while the V6 produces around 400 horses. The Platinum trim level offers a V6 with a little less power at just around 365 horses under the hood.
The base engine has a combined fuel-economy rating of around 24 miles-per-gallon. The bigger V6 comes in at 20 miles-per-gallon. Just like the Tahoe, the Explorer offers both 2-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive models. The 2-wheel drive versions offer slightly better fuel efficiency. The Explorer has a 10-speed automatic transmission with overdrive and an auto-manual setting.
The Ford Explorer has an optional Trailer Towing Package. The V6 models can tow up to 5,600 pounds when setup properly. Ford also offers a hybrid model of the Explorer that can tow up to 5,000 pounds. This model is equipped with a 3.3-liter hybrid engine. It even has modest off-road capabilities, which is rare for a hybrid vehicle.
Ford offers a very similar warranty to the one provided by Chevrolet. The Explorer has basic coverage for 36 months or 36,000 miles. There is powertrain and corrosion protection for up to 60 months or 60,000 miles. Ford also provides roadside assistance for up to 60 months or 60,000 miles.
This latest version of the Tahoe offers more passenger space than ever before. There are three full rows of seats here. Previous models had a somewhat cramped third row, but the 2021 models have done away with this issue. There's plenty of room for cargo too, especially with the second- and third-row seats folded down. Owners can get an enormous 123 cubic-feet of storage space here.
The load floor is low and flat for easy loading and unloading of cargo. The latest suspension system does a fantastic job of providing a smooth ride. It's nice and quiet inside of the Tahoe too. The front bucket seats and the second row can be equipped with a heating feature. The interior is well designed and provides an excellent view of the road.
Every trim level of the 2021 Tahoe gets a large 10.2-inch touchscreen display for the infotainment system. There are USB ports that function as a connection point or simply for charging. Charging ports are located throughout the vehicle for the rear-seat passengers as well. The infotainment system is intuitive to use with controls that are conveniently located on the display as well as the steering wheel.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto apps are fully compatible with the Tahoe's infotainment system. The Tahoe even provides a WiFi hotspot for everyone's portable devices. Higher trim levels get a premium sound system by BOSE. There is also a rear entertainment system with two separate 12.6-inch screens to keep all passengers occupied.
Just like the Tahoe, the Explorer offers three rows of seats. This time, however, the third row isn't quite as spacious. The cargo volume with the second and third rows folded down flat is 87.8 cubic feet. That's a lot of space, but it is much less than what the Tahoe offers. The Tahoe has a more upscale interior too.
The Ford Explorer makes up for any shortcomings with its choices. The second row can be equipped with captain's chairs or with a bench seat. Upholstery options include fine leather. The Ford also offers a more refined ride quality and better steering and handling. Passengers may enjoy the Tahoe more, but the Explorer was designed with the driver in mind.
Ford's Sync Infotainment system is one of the best in the business. It offers a simple interface that is easy to learn and operate. The controls can easily be accessed by the driver. There's a navigation system with voice-activated commands for the higher trim levels. The B&O Sound system has a total of 12 speakers for amazing audio throughout the vehicle.
Just like the Tahoe, the Explorer provides charging ports for every seat row. The HD radio is all ready for SiriusXM service. There's also a provided 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot that allows multiple devices to be connected to the internet at the same time.
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The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe comes with six or seven airbags depending on the style of the front seats. There are stability and traction systems including Chevy's own StabiliTrak technology. This helps enhance the drivers control, especially when there's an emergency situation. Extra braking power is employed when needed. The traction control adjusts engine power and braking if required.
Automatic Emergency Braking and Forward Collision Alert work together to prevent accidents with the vehicle ahead of the Tahoe. Front Pedestrian Braking detects people in your path and applies brakes to avoid any unfortunate accidents. An HD Rear Vision Camera and HD Surround Camera are installed depending on the trim level.
There are several technologies to assist with lane changes. Lange Change Alert also has a warning for the side blindspots. Lane Keeping Assist gives the driver a warning if they veer out of their lane. Rear Cross Traffic Alert gives the driver a heads up on what's behind them. Rear Park Assist makes it easier than ever before to back into a tight spot.
The 2021 Ford Explorer has an advanced airbag system with an extra bag around the area of the driver's knees. The Individual Tire Pressure Monitoring System keeps watch over the air pressure to make sure the tires are always inflated to a safe level. Active Park Assist 2.0 makes squeezing the large Explorer in and out of spaces a lot easier.
The Explorer has a Lane Keeping System that is similar to what the Tahoe has to offer. Many of the driver-assist technologies are similar here when comparing these two SUVs. Ford has its proprietary traction technology called AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control. This keeps the Explorer from skidding and potentially flipping over.
The IIHS has named the 2021 Ford Explorer a Top Safety Pick. They have not yet ranked the Tahoe as of the time of this article's writing, but the similar 2020 models did not make their list for Top Safety Pick. The NHTSA has yet to conduct extensive crash tests on either vehicle.
Which Has the Best Value?
The base model of the Tahoe comes in at around $50,295. The highest trim level has a MSRP of $60,495. The Explorer has a base cost of $32,450 with the highest trim coming in at $54,480. The top tier Platinum trim for the Ford isn't too much more than the base model of the Chevrolet. That already makes the Ford a better value.
The safety features and driver-assist technology are similar for both vehicles at each trim level. Chevrolet offers the better interior, but the Ford is no slouch in this category, especially when considering the Platinum trim package. Both vehicles offer good infotainment systems and audio, but Ford's is easier to use.
The Ford may save owners at the gas pumps too, especially if they go with the hybrid model of the Explorer. It's the more economical vehicle over all and the cheapest one to own. Both vehicles come with solid warranty coverage in case something unfortunate should happen too soon in the SUV's lifespan.
The Chevrolet offers a higher quality interior and some extra creature comforts, but not enough to justify the cost increase of the Ford here. The cost differences are largely due to the extra size, power and performance of the Chevy. Not all drivers will need these perks, however, and the Ford wins out here as the better value for your money.
Which Is Better?
While the 2021 Ford Explorer is the better bargain, that doesn't necessarily mean it's the better vehicle over all. The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe has more space for family and friends. It has significantly more room for cargo too. It outclasses the Ford when it comes to power, acceleration and towing capacity as well. The Tahoe is simply the more capable vehicle between these two.
The Explorer, however, does offer a smoother ride and better handling. It's a more enjoyable vehicle to drive overall. Both are great, full-sized SUVs. If the buyer needs the extra space for people and cargo, then the Tahoe is the way to go. If not, the superior driving dynamics and lower price point make the Ford a better choice.