Only a handful of massive, traditional-style V8 SUVs remain on the market. Chevrolet’s Suburban has been around for 80 years, capturing shoppers who are certain they need the biggest of the big in a three-row SUV.

Pricing and Equipment

With an MSRP of $49,700 for the basic LS, Chevrolet’s Suburban also comes in LT and LTZ trim, the latter topping $64,000. Four-wheel drive adds $3,000.

First and second rows may have either two buckets or a bench seat, for seven- to nine-passenger capacity. To get features such as leather-trimmed seating, pushbutton start, a hands-free liftgate, and heated steering wheel, you have to move up to the LTZ.

Performance Pros

Chevrolet Suburban Front Quarter
  • A recently-improved drivetrain mates a 5.3-liter V8 with a six-speed automatic transmission. Not only does that combo feel plenty strong to us, but the Suburban is capable of towing up to 8,300 pounds. It’s the same V8 used in Chevrolet’s Silverado pickup, generating 355 horsepower. That’s enough to deliver plenty of oomph for merging onto the freeway, long mountain upgrades, and passing with confidence.
  • Cylinder deactivation. We spent a lot of test-drive time in what amounts to fuel-saving “V4" mode. The transition between eight- and four-cylinder operation is seamless; with no vibration or hesitation.

Performance Cons

  • Fuel economy, as expected, is a weak spot. For an SUV this big, the EPA estimates aren’t horrid by any means. Still, 16 mpg in city driving and 23 mpg on the highway isn’t something to boast about. Remember when gas roared past $4 and some SUV owners parked their biggies for the duration? If gasoline prices skyrocket again, you might be sorry if a Suburban is your sole vehicle.
  • It’s still a truck. Sure, Suburban and its GMC Yukon XL cousin demonstrate way less “truckiness” than they used to. But beneath the surface lies the same sort of ladder-type chassis that held Suburbans of old.

Interior Pros

Chevy Suburban Interior Front
  • Space. Plenty of it. Suburbans hold up to nine riders, if bench seats are installed in each row. Enough said, for SUV shoppers who want or need to haul large groups, without scrunching their passengers.
  • Refined interior. It's much improved over prior Suburbans, laden with civilized, sculpted shapes that belie any remaining truck-like demeanor.
  • Modern Controls. Like many cars, Suburban uses a large touchscreen interface for audio controls.
  • Upscale look and feel. That's especially so of the top LTZ model -- as it should be, considering its price.

Interior Cons

  • We think climbing aboard this big, tall vehicle several times a day can get tiresome.
  • Third-row seating is undeniably roomier, better than ever; but it’s still best for children or shorter-stature adults. Third-row seats fold flat now. Still, for a vehicle this gargantuan, you’d think those three occupants out back wouldn’t have to feel as if they’d lost a lottery.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

Chevy Suburban Center Console

Abundant equipment and technology. Not much in the way of high-tech safety and convenience seems to be lacking, whether standard or available. An Enhanced Driver Alert Package, added for 2016, provides such safety/security features as Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist, and a Safety Alert Seat.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Excessively angular styling takes the less-pleasant prize. Suburban is unabashedly an oversize SUV, despite its many refinements, and defiantly looks the part.

The Bottom Line

Let's face it, Suburban is one of the largest vehicles you can buy, with a wheelbase 14 inches longer than the related Tahoe (which can also seat nine). Shoppers who need the space continue to fall hard for Chevrolet's SUV maximus.