With a history dating back to the mid-1930s, Chevrolet’s massive Suburban is one of a handful of truly full-size, truck-based SUVs. Fully redesigned for the 2015 model year, it’s closely related to the GMC Yukon, on a wheelbase 14 inches longer than Chevrolet’s similar Tahoe.

Pricing and Equipment

Starting at $51,110 (destination charge included), the Suburban comes in base LS, midrange LT, and top Premier trim – the latter starts at $65,925. All Suburbans hold a 6.3-liter V8 engine, with direct injection, that develops 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the sole transmission. Four-wheel drive replaces the standard rear-drive configuration for a $3,000 premium.

Standard LT equipment includes:

  • Leather-appointed front and second-row seats
  • Bose premium audio
  • Rearview camera
  • Power liftgate
  • Tri-zone automatic climate control
  • MyLink infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen
  • Lane-keep assist and forward-collision alert

Performance Pros

Chevrolet Suburban
  • V8 powertrain feels strong in just about every situation, whether merging onto an expressway, passing on a two-lane road, or grinding up long grades in mountainous terrain.
  • Magnetic Ride Control (standard on Premier) can alter suspension damping. thereby yielding a smooth, supple ride even when the pavement surface gets rough.
  • Properly equipped, a Suburban can tow as much as 8,300 pounds.

Performance Cons

  • Fuel economy wins no prizes, as expected in a vehicle this big and heavy. With rear-drive, the EPA estimates 16 miles per gallon city, 23 highway, and 19 combined. Four-wheel drive drops the figures to 15/22/18 mpg. Cylinder deactivation can shut off half the cylinders in light-duty situations.
  • Although the base suspension, with rear leaf springs, does a reasonably good job, body lean through turns is inevitable. Few would call the Suburban agile.
  • Because of its mammoth dimensions and abundant weight, the Suburban isn’t so easy to maneuver through crowded spaces, periodically qualifying as cumbersome.

Interior Pros

  • Refined, neatly-sculpted cabin seats seat seven, eight, or nine passengers, depending on whether a front bench and/or second-row captain’s chairs are installed.
  • Especially in top trim, a Suburban comes across as agreeably upscale – though at a substantial cost.

Interior Cons

  • Even though the third-row seat is more welcoming than in earlier Suburbans, and folds flat, it’s still most appropriate for children or, at best, adults of shorter stature.
  • Simply because this is a big SUV, getting inside inevitably requires a bit of a climb.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

Continued availability of a front bench seat may surprise a lot of folks, and please those who want their Suburbans to be fitted for maximum passenger capacity. Anyone who hasn’t experienced a haptic-type safety alert is likely to be surprised, and to recognize its value when the Suburban deviates from its lane, though the actual seat vibrations may or may not seem pleasant.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

In crash-testing by NHTSA, the Suburban earned only a four-star rating in frontal crashes with the same rating overall. The side-impact test went better, with a five-star score. Active safety features are available, but mainly as options.

The Bottom Line

Indisputably a traditional SUV, flaunting utterly angular styling, the Suburban is one of the biggest vehicles on the market – more than 220 inches long. Clearly, most families don’t really need this level of three-row seating. For those who don’t, its Tahoe cousin or even a midsize crossover SUV might suffice nicely.