GM struggled under a strike during part of 1971, which led to production figures that lagged for the second straight year. Labor stability returned in 1972, and domestic production rallied to more than 8.5 million vehicles, the third largest amount in industry history. The increased sales blunted the inroads of the imports, giving the industry a much-needed boost in confidence. Profits, however, were constrained somewhat by President Nixon's wage and price controls and the imposition of government regulations regarding safety features - front and rear bumpers and fire-resistant fabrics - and pollution control. GM and Ford requested price increases from the government, but these were denied by the Price Commission.
The 1971 Caprice was completely restyled on a longer 121.5-inch (3,090 mm) wheelbase and featured more rounded fuselage styling similar to that pioneered by Chrysler Corporation on its 1969 full-sized cars, along with new flush "pull-up" exterior door handles and double-shell roofs - both features first appearing on the 1970 1/2 Camaro and Pontiac Firebird. The basic "Full-Perimeter" frame and all-coil suspension were refined for improvements in ride and noise reduction. The new styling was highlighted by a Cadillac-like eggcrate grille with a "Caprice" emblem in the centre and brushed metal trim surrounding the taillights on the rear deck.
Inside were revised interiors featuring a two-spoke cushioned steering wheel and new instrument panel with horizontal sweep speedometer and instrument placement similar to previous full-sized Chevrolets. Caprices continued to feature higher grade interiors than their Impala counterparts with luxurious cloth-and-vinyl upholstery on both sedans and coupes and a centre front seat armrest on sedans, along with woodgrain trim on dash, steering wheel and door panels plus carpeting on floor and lower door panels. Station wagons now used a unique 125" wheelbase and were bigger than ever before.
As with the year before, station wagons continued to use unique model names, however, the Kingswood Estate wagon was considered to be equivalent to the Chevrolet Caprice being the top level wagon. Unlike the years previous, station wagons used unique rear suspension, using a solid axle with leaf springs as opposed to the sedans and coupes coil springs and trailing arms. Also new was the "Glide-Away" clamshell style disappearing tailgate. This design had the glass upper portion of the tailgate slide into the roof, and the lower steel portion slide into a compartment under the floor, providing a completely open space with no tailgate in sight.