by John Tallodi
Crossover SUVs may be gaining in popularity thanks to their car-like handling and easier maneuverability, but if you are after serious passenger and cargo space then a full-sized SUV is the only way to go. Like all contenders in this category, the Chevrolet Suburban is based on a truck chassis and while it may not be the last word in handling finesse it can transport up to 9 people as well as tow just about anything. For 2017 it receives a number of detail upgrades to enhance its appeal.
Gone are the days of questionable quality interior plastics and low-rent upholstery, the Suburban offers a luxurious interior with a variety of interior trim options too. It is a step up from the other offerings in this class and as you might expect interior space is very generous. Well, unless you happen to be in the last row as these seats have less cushioning and less than optimal legroom for adults. This may be partly due to the fact that they are able to fold down flat to increase the already cavernous cargo area. Loading heavy items can be a back-straining affair though as the tailgate is high off the ground.
Oddments storage space and large cup holders are sprinkled around the cabin and the ability to fold various seats flat further improves the interior utility.
The Suburban does not attempt to emulate the smaller crossover SUVs by trying to offer sedan-like driving dynamics, its sheer size and weight are always the defining factor in the way it behaves on the road. Its strengths lie in the way it can cruise along in hushed silence and, with the available all-wheel drive system, tackle some very tough terrain too. The truck-based running gear also offers peerless towing ability although ride comfort over rough pavement can be compromised compared to smaller SUVs so it may be best sticking to the standard 18-inch wheels.
The Chevrolet Suburban is available with a 5.3-liter V8 which produced 355 horsepower and a serious 383 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is the only one on offer and the combination provide the Suburban with decent performance despite its high kerb weight. The heavy gas pedal does require a firm prod to get going but once up and running the Suburban is the consummate cruiser.
All-wheel drive and a trailering and off-roading package can be optioned both of which include a two-speed transfer case. Fuel consumption is estimated at a combined 19 mpg which is best in class but expect to see much worse if city driving constitutes a large portion of your commute.
The Suburban is available in three main trim levels, starting with the base LS some of the standard options are 18-inch wheels, rear park assist, built-in 4G and Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, 6-speaker audio system, climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control and 8-inch touch screen. For added safety OnStar safety services are standard, there is a teen driver mode and a rear vision camera and daytime running lamps are also included.
LT trim adds a power liftgate, fog lights, forward collision alert, lane keep assist, low speed automatic braking, leather front seats and an upgraded sound system. Maximum seating capacity is however reduced to 8 occupants.
Premier trim includes the Luxury Package (keyless entry and ignition, heated second row seats and wireless charging pad) and further adds 20-inch wheels, adaptive suspension, navigation and upgraded power seats and Bose audio system.
A Max Trailering package is available on all trims and a Z71 off-road package can be optioned on LT trim levels. Notable extras are a rear-seat DVD system, adaptive cruise control and head-up display.
The Chevrolet Suburban is a big SUV designed for big tasks and shoppers can choose from a variety of trims and standalone options to tailor their vehicles to their specific needs. For 2017 the enhanced safety features and additional options make it a strong contender in the full-sized SUV segment.