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2021 Chevy Suburban debuts with optional diesel power

There's a whole lot of Silverado in here, to great effect.

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It's almost like Chevrolet designed this new face with the Suburban in mind, rather than the Silverado.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

The Chevrolet Suburban, along with its smaller sibling the Tahoe, comprises a plurality of full-size SUV sales in the US. Getting every iteration of this vehicle correct is hugely important to GM's bottom line -- and, given the Suburban's position as the longest-running nameplate in the automotive industry, there's a lot on the line with each new generation. Thankfully, it appears GM went all in on the 2021 Suburban to great effect.

Chevrolet on Tuesday unveiled the 2021 Suburban. The first thing you'll undoubtedly notice is the front end, which borrows most of its aesthetic from the latest iteration of Silverado, although I believe that this new corporate face looks best on a large SUV. Out back, things are far more unique, with pronounced taillights on each side and a big ol' Suburban badge under a shiny piece of trim.

If you think the whole shebang looks bigger, you're right -- it's a lot bigger. The 2021 Suburban grew 4.1 inches of wheelbase and 1.3 inches of overall length. Combined with a lower cargo floor, there's now a maximum cargo capacity of 144.7 cubic feet, a 19-percent improvement that cements the Suburban as having the most passenger and cargo space of any SUV on sale. Those dimensional adjustments also confer benefits inside, with an additional 2.3 inches of second-row legroom and an extra 2.2 inches of third-row legroom. Further boosting the Suburban's versatility is a new sliding second-row seat that can adjust up to 10 inches to boost either cargo capacity or legroom as necessary.

There's a whole lot to like inside the Suburban, especially since it doesn't resemble the latest Silverado's middling interior (which, to be fair, is scheduled for a change in the near future).

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

As for the dashboard, the Silverado's "update" was pretty much panned from the get-go, so it's good to see Chevrolet taking a completely different direction with the 2021 Suburban. The look is far more cohesive and premium, with the only recycled piece being the massive center armrest with its phone-sized cubby on top. The rest is completely fresh, with transmission buttons to the left of the screen and bright LED climate control dials below.

Just like the Silverado, there's a new diesel engine on offer in the 2021 Suburban. This 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-6 produces 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, which Chevy expects will produce some solid fuel economy. If oil-burners aren't your cup of tea, most trims come standard with a 5.3-liter V8 making 355 horsepower. High Country trims get a little more oomph, though, with a 6.2-liter V8 churning out 420 horsepower. All three engines come mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.

The engines aren't the only hidden improvements on the new Suburban. Premier and High Country trims get a standard magnetorheological suspension (also known as Magnetic Ride Control) that uses sensors to monitor the dampers and make adjustments on the fly to improve comfort. High Country and Z71 models can upgrade further with a new air suspension that automatically levels based on the load and can adjust up to 4 inches to improve ingress, egress and highway aerodynamics.

The space behind the Suburban's third row is simply voluminous.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Chevy's latest tech isn't limited to the parts you can't see, either. Inside, the Suburban gets a standard 10-inch color touchscreen running the latest iteration of the automaker's infotainment system. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hotspot and a whole bunch of USB ports are tucked in there, and every trim other than LS gets wireless device charging. Further screens include a 4.2-inch gauge cluster display (expanding to an 8-incher on higher trims), optional 12.6-inch screens for rear seats and an available 15-inch head-up display. The car can take advantage of over-the-air updates, too.

GM didn't forget about safety systems, but in traditional GM fashion, they're not all standard. Automatic emergency braking is on every trim, sure, but most everything else is optional. Kit out the Suburban the right way, and you get access to a surround-view camera system, front and rear parking sensors, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning.

When it goes on sale in mid-2020, the 2021 Chevy Suburban will come in six trims. The base LS and the better-equipped LT are the basic ones, while the RST ramps up the sportiness and the Z71 focuses on off-road adventures. At the top of the lineup are the more luxurious Premier and High Country trims. All Suburbans will be built at GM's facility in Arlington, Texas, and pricing should be available closer to its on-sale date.