The Chevrolet Suburban is the largest SUV on the market, a burly machine capable of towing 8,300 lbs. and seating up to nine passengers in its cavernous interior. More than just a big brute, it also offers a surprising degree of sophistication, including luxurious cabin fitments and numerous available high-tech extras.
The Suburban, along with its smaller Tahoe sibling, has been completely redesigned for the latest model year.
It's most definitely an old-school, pickup-based utility vehicle that doesn't falter at the prospect of traversing a torturous trail or towing a heavy boat, but the Suburban is also up to the task of serving as a cushy people and cargo hauler.
As its prodigious dimensions suggest, the Suburban features generous space for passengers across all three rows of seating. Notably, the second row can be outfitted with individual captain's chairs for a seating capacity of eight, or a bench seat for nine-passenger capability.
With all seats upright, there's a sizable 38.9 cubic feet of stowage space; start folding down seats - which now fold flat - and there's enough room to swallow nearly any cargo. With the third row seat in the recumbent position, 76.7 cubic feet are available, and a full 121.1 cubes can be had by also folding down the second row.
Providing a dose of luxury is the Suburban's handsome cabin design, which features a swept-back dashboard and upscale materials like metallic-appearance trim and available perforated leather upholstery. Futhermore, all Suburbans except the base model are equipped with Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system, which integrates entertainment and navigation functions (when equipped), and also offers access to smartphone-based apps like Pandora radio and Stitcher radio.
The system can be controlled through dashboard knobs, steering wheel buttons or an eight-inch touchscreen (which motors up to reveal a hidden storage compartment), and there's also a voice recognition system for hands-free calls, destination entering, song selection and more. Its "natural language" functioning can recognize a staggering number of phrases - effectively eliminating the need for the clunky and cumbersome memorized commands.
The Suburban also offers numerous luxury extras, including heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a Bose surround sound stereo and a rear-seat Blue-ray entertainment system.
Powertrains, Towing and Fuel Economy
Power for the Suburban comes from a pushrod 5.3-liter V8 equipped with direct-injection, variable valve timing and a cylinder deactivation system. The mill produces 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft, with that output transmitted to the wheels by way of a six-speed automatic transmission
Rear-wheel-drive is standard, while four-wheel-drive is an extra-cost option. RWD models equipped with an available Maximum Trailering Package can tow up to 8,300 lbs.
Although not a dedicated mud-slinger, the Suburban is more than capable of handling light off-roading situations - if there's enough space on the trail to accommodate its sizable dimensions.
RWD Suburbans are rated at 16/23 city/highway mpg, while 4WD variants check in at 16/22 mpg.
Trim Level Breakdown
Chevrolet offers the Suburban in LS, LT and LTZ trim levels.
The Suburban LS comes standard with cloth upholstery, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM/HD radio stereo system with an AUX input, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, rear parking assist, power-adjustable front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, remote keyless entry, remote start, power windows and locks, cruise control, automatic tri-zone climate control, a 110-volt power outlet, five auxiliary 12-volt power outlets heated exterior mirrors, a tilt steering wheel and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The LS can be optioned up with the Driver Alert Package, which includes power-adjustable pedals, forward collision alert and lane departure warning system
To those features, the Suburban LT adds the Driver Alert Package, leather upholstery, MyLink infotainment with eight-inch screen, a Bose premium stereo system, a power liftgate, heated front seats with memory functionality, a universal garage door opener, a heavy-duty locking rear differential, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Offered on both the LS and LT is the Maximum Trailering Package. It includes a 3.42 rear axle ratio, a trailer brake controller, a "premium smooth ride suspension" with air leveler, and on 4WD models, a two-speed active transfer case.
Exclusive to the LT is the Luxury Package, which spices things up with a proximity key, push-button start, a heated steering wheel, heated second-row power release seats, power-folding third row seats, fog lights, electrochromatic power-folding exterior mirrors, front and rear park assist, and rear cross traffic alert and side blind zone alert.
The Suburban LTZ brings the Luxury Package in addition to perforated leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a 10-speaker Bose Centerpoint surround sound system, Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension, HID headlights, a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and 20-inch alloy wheels.
The LT and LTZ are available with the Sun, Entertainment and Destinations Package, a bundle that adds a navigation system, a rear Blue-ray entertainment system with nine-inch screen, and a power sunroof.
Stand-alone options include navigation, a sunroof and an interior motion-sensing anti-theft system.
All Suburban models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a front center airbag and traction and stability control systems.
Available safety features include a forward collision alert system, which warns the driver when it sense an impending crash; a lane departure warning system that alerts the driver if the Suburban begins to wander into an adjacent lane; a rear cross traffic alert system that warns the driver of approaching traffic in backup situations; and a rear blind spot warning system.
Alternatives to the Suburban include the Ford Expedition XL, the Nissan Armada and the Toyota Sequoia.