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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A silver 2020 Chevy Tahoe is shown driving on a city street after leaving a used SUV dealer.

Has GM Become the Leader in Full-Size SUVs?

The simple answer to that question is, yes, they pretty much have. The more detailed answer to that question requires a look into the lineups of several different car companies to see what they can offer and how GM demolishes the competition. For one thing, the large or full-size SUV market is surprisingly limited in scope – many brands don’t even have one in their selection, so the number of options at somewhere like a used SUV dealer can be fairly scant. You’ll find a lot of midsize models and even some three-row midsize options, but those only work well if you have kids you plan on sitting in the back seats or people you don’t like very much.

If you’re interested in gargantuan SUVs, something that really lives up to the full potential of these vehicles as a replacement for minivans as a family ride, then your options are relatively few. Within this small selection of large models, you’ll quickly find that GM brands have more to offer than nearly everyone else, combined. It helps that GM shares its platforms across its brands, so it’s easier for them to offer numerous models without as much development as it would take other companies – but it’s also a clear decision on their part to appeal to drivers who are passionate about large vehicles with plenty of room inside. But you don’t have to take my word for it; let’s look at the most popular full-size SUVs out there, and you’ll see for yourself.

The Chevy Tahoe

First up, we have the Chevy Tahoe, which isn’t even the largest SUV in the Chevrolet lineup and perfectly illustrates why GM is leading this race. The Tahoe is a full-size model that’s essentially the smaller sibling of the Chevy Suburban (we’ll get there in a moment), but it still offers plenty of power and a spacious interior. GM kept things simple by offering the same three engines on the Tahoe and Suburban these days, so they both have the same kind of power packed into them, including an available diesel engine – you won’t find that in any of the non-GM full-size SUVs we look at today. The Tahoe got an update for a new generation with the 2021 model year and now offers nearly 123 cu.ft. of total cargo space inside, with more than 25 cu.ft. of space just in the rear cargo area.

A black 2019 GMC Yukon Denali is shown parked near a concrete wall.

The GMC Yukon/Yukon XL

One of the keys to GM dominating this market segment is how they utilize their platforms and share them across their brands. The GMC Yukon is built on the same platform as the Chevy Tahoe, while the Yukon XL is a longer model that utilizes the Chevy Suburban platform. This means if someone’s looking at the Tahoe or Suburban and likes what they offer but wants something with a more refined overall approach, the Yukon models are perfect for them. Cargo space inside is identical to the two Chevy models, but the Yukon models have more sophisticated standard features – particularly inside.

The Chevy Suburban

To me, this is the best example of how Chevy – and GM – has come to dominate this market: the Suburban is pretty much the largest SUV on the road, with more space inside than any other full-size model we’re looking at. It’s an absolute beast, and while that might be too much for many people, anyone who wants a large SUV with a spacious interior will find what they’re looking for here. Much like the Tahoe, the Suburban was also redesigned for the 2021 model year and grew significantly, with a longer wheelbase that created a lot more room inside. The Suburban has more than 144 cu.ft. of total cargo space inside and more than 41 cu.ft. just in the rear cargo area, creating a functional interior that no other vehicle can come close to.

The Cadillac Escalade/Escalade ESV

Now we have our final entry from GM and one of the most well-known luxury SUVs on the road, which also happens to be a full-size monster. GM simplifies the engines for the Escalade, compared to the Tahoe and Suburban, giving it just two options – but they’re the most-powerful two options on the other GM models. The base 6.2L V8 engine on recent models from 2020 and 2021 offers an impressive 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. The standard Escalade is a gorgeous piece of machinery, and the ESV is a larger option, similar to the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, but they don’t have quite as much space inside.

A black 2022 Grand Wagoneer is shown driving on a mountain road.

The Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer

The first option we’re looking at that’s not from GM is the all-new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer – some people are calling it the “Jeep Wagoneer” because that’s what the model was called years ago, but the new one has been removed from the Jeep brand and is its own thing. These are both impressive full-size SUVs that lean hard into refinement and luxury, with tech options that include up to four screens inside, just up front! In a move that’s sure to confuse more than a few potential customers, the Grand Wagoneer is not a larger model; it just has more luxury and tech features – the larger versions are the Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L. The standard versions have more than 116 cu.ft. of total cargo volume inside, but even the larger L tops out at nearly 131 cu.ft., which falls well short of the largest GM models.

The Ford Expedition

Ford doesn’t have as many brands as GM, which means they have fewer options for full-size SUVs than their Detroit rival. Within the Ford lineup, there’s just one large SUV like this: the Expedition. It’s a fine choice, certainly, with some impressive engines, but inside, it tops out at just over 121 cu.ft. of total cargo volume. That’s the Expedition Max model, which is a larger version of the standard Expedition and is way behind what GM can deliver for interior space.

The Lincoln Navigator/Navigator L

Ford’s other brand, Lincoln, offers a similar option: the Navigator, with a larger Navigator L that matches the Expedition Max. It’s built on the same platform as the Expedition and has a lot of similar options, but Ford has wisely chosen to simplify the most recent models by only offering the most-powerful engine someone can get on the Expedition: a 3.5L turbocharged V6 that produces 440 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. These Navigator models have a bit less space inside than their Expedition cousins, which sets them well behind vehicles like the Tahoe and Suburban.

A white 2022 Nissan Armada is shown speeding on a city street.

The Nissan Armada

To keep things fair, we’ll also look at a couple of import full-size SUVs, starting with Nissan’s Armada. In all honesty, this only just qualifies as a full-size model, and it’s far smaller than the other ones we’ve seen so far. There’s just one engine here, a 5.6L V8, but it’s a good one. The space inside the Armada immediately reveals its shortcomings, with less than 93 cu.ft. of total cargo volume inside this offering from Nissan and just over 16 cu.ft. of space in the rear cargo area. That’s fine, but so far behind what someone can load into the offerings from GM that it really feels like a separate class.

The Toyota Sequoia

Much like the Armada, the Toyota Sequoia demonstrates a similar dedication to keeping even their full-size models a bit more on the modest side of things. It’s powered by a very impressive turbo V6 hybrid engine that puts out massive amounts of torque, making it a lot of fun to drive. It falls short (pun slightly intended) in terms of how much space it has inside: there’s just over 22 cu.ft. of rear cargo space in the Sequoia but less than 87 cu.ft. of total cargo volume within this model. That’s about 60% of the amount of space the Suburban has, which shows how committed GM is to delivering an exceptionally “full-size” driving experience for their customers.

With four full-size SUVs from GM’s brands and five from other companies, we can see that no one comes close to offering as many vehicles or models as spacious inside. I’d say this makes GM the leader when it comes to the full-size SUV market, offering a lot more for people who are looking for the roomiest interiors out there.

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