Not only is the Chevy Suburban one of the longest-standing nameplates in the world, but it's also Chevrolet's largest SUV offering in the US; a full-size three-row SUV geared towards meeting the people hauling and towing needs of the 21st century. To that end, it's loaded with creature comforts and driver-assist features along with spacious seating for up to eight occupants. A 5.3-liter V8 engine is this behemoth's beating heart, producing outputs of 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, fed via a six-speed automatic gearbox to either a standard two-wheel-drive or optional four-wheel-drivetrain. A beefier 6.2-liter V8 engine upgrade is available for the Premier, flexing outputs of 420 hp and 460 lb-ft, it comes mated to a ten-speed automatic gearbox. The Suburban is a legendary SUV with a name that is recognized throughout the U.S., but it's not the only one out there, with the Ford Expedition Max and the GMC Yukon XL proving just as appealing.
Chevrolet has drawn out the lifespan of the eleventh-generation Suburban for a good five years now and has recently announced that a new generation of the Suburban will roll out for the 2021 model year. Subsequently, the brand's largest SUV gets barely any enhancements or alterations moving into the 2020 model year. In fact, the only revisions to the Suburban lineup are the deletion of the Deepwood Green Metallic and Pepperdust Metallic from the exterior color palette, totaling the exterior color options at nine for the 2020 model year.
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5.3L V8 Flex-fuel (FFV)
5.3L V8 Flex-fuel (FFV)
5.3L V8 Flex-fuel (FFV)
Chevrolet has kept the Suburbans design up-to-date and though it now nears the end of its eleventh-gen iteration, it's still an SUV that carries a genuinely modern and attractive aesthetic. A dominant black mesh front grille bedecks the LS and LT models, framed with chrome bars only on the Premier. Standard halogen headlights are fitted to the LS and LT models with HID halogen headlights and front fog lamps adorning the Premier, all feature daytime running lights. All models also feature black roof-mounted rails and black assist steps. The LS and LT ride atop 18-inch high-polished alloy wheels, while the Premier has 20-inch polished items. There are ten available wheel options, packaged as standalone add-ons or part of the various appearance packages, and a sunroof is optional, too.
Chevrolet's largest vehicle, the Suburban, is a consummate contender for the full-size three-row SUV class, with the expected dimensions for the segment. At an overall length of 224.4 inches, it's even longer than the Ford Expedition which spans a total length of 210 inches, it even has a good 7.5 inches on the Expedition's wheelbase which is capped at 122.5 inches. At a height of 74.4 inches, the Suburban is as tall as the 4WD Expedition, it's a little wider though, with a width of 80.5 inches. Unlike a true off-roader, the Suburban doesn't do well over any degree of rough terrain. Its ground clearance of 7.9 inches is crushed even by the Expedition's 9.8 inches. The Suburbans approach and departure angles aren't too bad though, at 15.5 and 21.1 degrees respectively, with the Expeditions coming through at 23.3 and 21.9 degrees for 4x4 models. Both vehicles are behemoths, with curb weights ranging from 5,586 lbs to 5,808 lbs with the Suburban, depending on your choice of spec and drivetrain, and the Expeditions from 5,368 lbs to 5,623 lbs.
With the deletion of the Deepwood Green Metallic and Pepperdust Metallic from the exterior color palette, only nine options remain for the Suburban for 2020. Hues available at no additional cost and across the board include Black, Summit White, Blue Velvet, Satin Steel, Silver Ice, and Shadow Gray, the latter four of which are all metallics. Any model can also be planted in Siren Red Tintcoat at an additional cost of $495 or Black Cherry Metallic at an additional cost of $395. Only the LT and Premier can be had in Iridescent Pearl Tricoat at a pricey $995. The Suburban looks great in any of the colors, but if you're going to be driving high profile elite clients or celebrities around then you'd probably be going for black to maintain its elitist image; the Siren Red Tintcoat is otherwise the hue we'd go for.
Strapping performance is an essential requirement for full-size SUVs and the Suburban's default 355 hp, 383 lb-ft 5.3-liter V8 engine is a faultless unit in this regard. The behemoth, with this powertrain and equipped with 2WD gets from 0 to 60 mph in around 6.9 seconds in most independent test drives. The Suburban, when equipped with the optional 420 hp, 460 lb-ft 6.2-liter V8 engine, is a full second and a half faster, completing the task in a more impressive 6.2 seconds. Both of those results are right on par with the Chevy Tahoe, but competition comes from the Ford Expedition, which, regardless of its powertrain choice, is faster in general.
To get the most out of the Suburban in terms of towing, the base powertrain is the most capable setup along with the available Max Trailering Package optioned in, availing the SUV with a maximum towing capacity of 8,300 lbs. The Tahoe is capable of towing around 100 pounds more in the correct guise, and the Ford Expedition a total of 1,000 pounds more.
The Suburban doesn't offer much capability in terms of off-roading; its expansive wheelbase doesn't help much for its articulation over any rocky surfaces, or for maneuvering in tight spaces. It is, however, equipped with a locking differential and a low-range transfer case which do give it some credibility. The Ford Expedition manages this a little better, riding almost a full two inches higher off the ground and featuring a shorter wheelbase except in the case of the extended wheelbase Max.
The Suburban, with either the 5.3-liter V8 engine and six-speed auto or the 6.2-liter V8 engine and ten-speed auto, rides strappingly and competently, despite its tremendous heft. Acceleration with either setup is punchy and immediate, and not jumpy at all. Pulling away from a standstill is met with an instant surge of forwarding traction, and momentum is gathered at a confident and consistent pace. Even getting up to top speeds to merge onto highways or overtake slower vehicles is attained with ease as enough power is always at hand and is delivered determinedly. These perks remain consistent even with a heavy payload onboard or in tow. If there's one downside to the Suburbans acceleration, it's in the gas pedal calibration which is rather dull as the pedal travel is relatively extensive. Both gearboxes are polished too, delivering imperceptible and refined shifts throughout, and are well deserving of some recognition for the powertrain's performance overall.
If we had to choose which powertrain is best, we'd probably go for the optional 6.2-liter V8 and ten-speed auto as performance is simply more polished. Unfortunately, it's only available in the top-of-the-line Premier model and at a hefty fee, not to mention also at the compromise of towing capability.
Unfortunately, with the Suburbans size, heft, and rugged equipment, its ride quality isn't necessarily luxurious; while more minor road imperfections and undulations are adequately dispersed of, larger obstacles do tend to rattle the rear of the cabin especially - a negative aspect of its pickup truck underpinnings. Its large, heavy chassis otherwise manages to remain relatively well-mannered, and its cabin is nicely isolated from most outside and engine noise. In terms of handling, the Suburban is actually pretty solid, always feeling firmly planted to the road, and never overly top-heavy. Its mammoth weight is inescapable, however, and it can be difficult to maneuver, especially in tighter spots, but it manages to remain composed around turns even at its limits.
Its steering is expectedly numb and there isn't much feedback given to the driver at all; it feels overly light too and delivers sluggish responses to driver inputs. The Suburban is, nevertheless, still reasonably easy to guide through city streets and cruises the highway effortlessly. The brakes deliver plenty of confidence, thankfully, providing effective stopping power while bringing the hefty SUV to a stop in good time, and without compromising its stability. The Suburban is more of a luxury offering rather than a rugged off-roader, that's despite its standard-fit locking differential, low-range transfer case, and all-terrain tires. Its extensive wheelbase and running boards are simply an impracticality when it comes to climbing rough terrain, but a benefit to passenger comfort instead.
The Suburban's V8s burn through gas like a wildfire burns through dry brush on a windy day. With the base powertrain and 2WD drivetrain equipped, the Suburban returns EPA gas mileage estimates of 15/22/18 mpg city/highway/combined, with the 4WD drivetrain equipped, those figures drop to 14/21/16 mpg on those same cycles. The Premier Suburban, when equipped with the optional powertrain and kept with the 2WD drivetrain is actually more fuel-efficient on the highway, returning EPA estimates of 14/23/17 mpg; this drops to 14/20/16 mpg with the 4WD optioned in. Fortunately, the Suburban's large 31-gallon gas tank can still supply the free-spending SUV for lengthy distances, and when filled up, the thriftiest Suburban should deliver a range of around 558 miles before requiring a refuel.
There's no other way to describe the Suburbans interior but as high-quality and commodious. The overall impression is one of excellent craftsmanship with intensive attention to detail, and the components and materials utilized are all high-grade. This, altogether, results in a cabin that exudes comfort and modernity. Everything is put together really intuitively as well - the layout is clustered, but easy to understand, and all within reach. The seats are all serenely comfortable, with thick but firm cushioning and nicely contoured bolsters that provide ample support. This is all complemented by as tranquil a cabin as can be expected, thanks to the triple-perimeter door seals. Overall passenger room is plentiful too, and any size adult should find ample room to stretch out in.
In standard guise, the LS and LT models seat eight passengers with a standard three-seater second-row bench in place, the Premier seats only seven with two bucket seats occupying the second-row. A front three-seater split-bench can be optioned into the LS model, upping seating occupancy to nine in total. The LT can be optioned with two second-row bucket seats to seat a total of seven passengers. Likewise, the Premier can be optioned with the three-seater second-row bench to seat eight. While the front seats are luxuriously comfortable and are installed with plenty of position adjustability, the second-row seats are similar in comfort but are limited to only split-foldability. The third-row seats aren't as plush, with rather firm bases, but fortunately, overall passenger room is more generous than expected. All seats are positioned quite high, which benefits the driver with a commanding view of the road ahead. This, along with the standard-fit running boards and massive doors, also make ingress and egress effortless, although you'd need the grab handles if you're on the short side.
Fitted in every Suburban is a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and all trims also feature front and second-row carpeted floor mats as standard. In the LS, the seats are upholstered in a premium cloth upholstery, which can be had in either Jet Black or Cocoa/Dune. Leather upholstered seats are standard in the LT which can be had in either Jet Black, Jet Black/Dark Ash, or Cocoa/Dune. The seats in the Premier are upholstered in perforated leather upholstery available in either Jet Black, Cocoa/Dune, Jet Black/Mahogany, or, for $295, Cocoa/Mahogany. There are other thematic cabin arrangements included as part of the many available appearance packages.
There's an expansive 39.3 cubic feet of cargo room offered up in the rear of the Suburban behind the third row of seats - that's enough room for either an eight-man tent and the camping gear to boot, or two medium-sized dog crates. Folding down the 60/40 split-folding third-row seats extends cargo room to 76.7 cubes; the second-row seats can also be folded down, opening up a grand total of 121.7 cubes.
In-cabin storage solutions are plentiful too; there are large door side pockets with bottle holder slots in all four doors which also feature smaller secondary pockets and a small items tray. Two large cupholders, a small-items storage tray, cavernous center armrest cubby, and a spacious passenger-side glove box are presented upfront. Both front seats feature seatback map pockets and two cupholders and small-item storage bins are located in the third-row seats.
Buyers of the Chevrolet Suburban won't be disappointed by the standard selection of features, which is expansive even for the base LS trim. At that level, there's remote keyless entry and ignition, a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel, a ten-way power-adjustable driver's seat, tri-zone automatic climate control, adaptive cruise control, an integrated rearview camera, and rear park assist. The steering wheel in the LT receives telescoping adjustability and the features list is expanded with the addition of a ten-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated front seats, a programmable power liftgate, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a universal home remote. It also gets IntelliBeam high-beam assist, forward collision alert, low-speed forward automatic braking, and lane keep assist with lane departure warning. For a heated steering wheel with power tilt/telescoping adjustability, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row outboard seats, 60/40 power-split-folding third-row seats, and a hands-free programmable power liftgate, there's the Premier which also gets lane change alert and blind-spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and front and rear park assist.
Chevrolet's IntelliLink software is some of the most user-friendly and intuitive infotainment software out there and is always packaged with comprehensive functionality. In every trim, there is an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen that's tethered to a stock six-speaker audio system in the LS, but plays through a premium nine-speaker Bose audio system in the LS, and in the Premier, to a ten-speaker Bose Centerpoint surround-sound audio system. Every setup includes an AM/FM/HD radio with a CD player and are all inclusive of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free smartphone operation, and in the Premier alone, GPS navigation. All trims are also capable of 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot functionality for up to seven devices, but the Premier alone is fitted with a wireless charging pad. In the media hub, there's a single auxiliary input jack and a 110-volt power outlet, and there are also five USB ports and five auxiliary 12-volt power outlets dispersed throughout the cabin.
The eleventh-gen Suburban has been subject to various major recalls over the years, with even the 2020 models falling subject to two - the first issue pertained to the unintentional activation of the driveline-protection system, which would cause unintended braking on only one wheel, causing the vehicle to pull to one side unexpectedly. The second issue pertained to the fuel pump system which, in some Suburbans, was missing a pressure regulator. The preceding models didn't fare any better.
J.D. Power, nevertheless, places strong confidence in the new Chevrolet Suburban, awarding the 2020 year model with a Great Quality and Reliability rating of 81 out of 100. Chevrolet covers the Suburban with a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a powertrain warranty valid for 60,000 miles or five years, whichever comes first.
Unfortunately, safety ratings for the Chevy Suburban are relatively substandard for a full-size family SUV. The NHTSA's review of the Chevy Suburban resulted in an overall safety rating of four-stars out of a possible five, with only three stars given for rollover tests. Side crash tests were given a full five stars. Disappointingly, the IIHS is yet to review the Suburban for its crashworthiness.
Despite its subpar safety ratings, the Suburban is still readily prepped for passenger well-being, coming pretty well outfitted with a decent selection of active safety tech and with a standard consignment of seven regular airbags. In the LS trim, there's an integrated rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors, and teen driver settings. Chevrolet builds onto those in the LT trim with IntelliBeam high-beam assist, forward collision alert, low-speed forward automatic braking, and with lane keep assist with lane departure warning. The selection is further compounded upon in the Premier trim, with front and rear park assist, lane change assist with blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert, the latter two of which are optional for the LT trim.
Despite its less than consummate safety ratings, the Chevrolet Suburban SUV is still an exceptional SUV. It's a firm American favorite simply because it's both luxurious for the class, and practical, too. Its two V8-equipped powertrains are powerful and refined and avail the Suburban with great, easy drivability and immense capability. It's not a very fuel-efficient vehicle at all, but it's equipped with a large 31-gallon gas tank which will still get it to where it needs to be on a straight trip. The Suburban will also deliver that journey reasonably comfortably in terms of ride, in a cabin that's high-end, commodious, and tranquil, and comprehensively outfitted with creature-comforts, keeping all passengers entertained whether it be seven, eight, or nine. All of these perks make the Suburban an exceptional family hauler and an ideal SUV for taking on vacation, not forgetting its 8,300-pound towing capacity which means the boat can come too. There are SUVs in the class that are more comfortable on the road and are easier to maneuver around town, maybe even more fuel-efficient too, but the Suburban has a legendary legacy and would be a great buy regardless.
Pricing for the Chevrolet Suburban is relatively aligned with the rest of the class. The base-spec Suburban LS in 2WD comes in with a base price of $51,700. For a few more features and options, the Suburban LT is the model to go for, presented at an MSRP of $56,500. The top-of-the-line Suburban Premier comes equipped with a more premium package overall, befitting its MSRP of $65,500. To opt the available 6.2-liter V8 engine and ten-speed auto to the Premier, buyers will have to option-in one of the many available packages, the most affordable option being the RST 6.2L Performance Edition which costs $2,720. The optional 4WD system adds $3,000 to the base price of any of the models, $3,100 to the V8-equipped Premier's. All prices are excluding Chevrolet's $1,295 destination charge as well as any tax, registration, and licensing fees.
There are three Suburban models in the lineup, the LS, LT, and Premier. All new models are equipped with a 5.3-liter V8 engine and six-speed automatic gearbox and a 2WD system as standard; a 4WD system can be added to any trim. There's also a powertrain upgrade, including a 6.2-liter V8 engine and ten-speed automatic gearbox, which can be added to the Premier, exclusively.
The base model LS rides on 18-inch high-polished alloy wheels and is outfitted with halogen headlights and DRL's, it sports black roof rails and assist steps. Features include remote keyless entry and ignition, a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel, a ten-way power-adjustable driver's seat, tri-zone automatic climate control, adaptive cruise control, an integrated rearview camera, and rear park assist. For infotainment, there's an eight-inch touchscreen and six-speaker sound system, inclusive of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality.
On the outside, the LT features IntelliBeam high-beam assist. Moving to the inside sees a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel added, a ten-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated front seats, a programmable power liftgate, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a universal home remote. It also features forward collision alert, low-speed forward automatic braking, and lane-keep assist with lane departure warning. A premium nine-speaker Bose audio system takes over for infotainment.
Riding higher on 20-inch polished alloy wheels is the Premier, featuring HID halogen headlights and front fog lamps and chrome exterior accents. Here, there's a heated steering wheel with power tilt/telescoping adjustability, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row outboard seats, 60/40 power-split-folding third-row seats, and a hands-free programmable power liftgate. Added to the driver-assist consignment is lane change alert and blind-spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and front and side park assist. Audio here is delivered by a ten-speaker Bose Centerpoint surround-sound audio system.
There are oodles of feature packages, equipment groups, and appearance packages available for all trims within the Suburban lineup. Available for all, but varying in cost, is a Max Trailering Package, which equips the Suburban with a 3.42 ratio axle, a trailer brake controller, a Z85 Premium Smooth Ride Suspension with air leveler on LS and LT trims, and a two-speed active transfer case on all 4WD trims for those wanting to tackle rougher terrain.
The LS can be optioned on with an Enhanced Driver Alert Package for $695, which comprises IntelliBeam headlamps, automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, safety alert seat, and power-adjustable pedals.
Available for the LT is a Texas Edition equipment group which, for $3,110, throws in remote keyless entry with push-button start, heated second-row power 60/40 split seats, power-fold third-row 60/40 split seats, a heated steering wheel with power tilt/telescoping adjustability and memory, outside heated power mirrors, hands-free gesture liftgate, front fog lamps, front and rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change alert with side blind-zone alert, body-color trailer hitch closeout, texas emblem, and black roof-rack cross rails.
For the Premier, there's the Premier Plus Edition which costs $11,775 and is an all-inclusive package that contains the 6.2-liter V8 engine, ten-speed automatic transmission, 22-inch chrome wheels, power sunroof, an additional nine months of SiriusXM Radio and Traffic services, rear-seat entertainment system, power-retractable assist steps, Jet Black/Mahogany Brown perforated leather seating, second-row power-release bucket seats, eight-inch enhanced driver information center, a head-up display, 170-amp alternator, two-speed active transfer case (4WD models only), trailer brake controller, and a 3.23 axle ratio. Many of the features within this package are available separately in more concise packages at lower prices.
The top-of-the-line Premier is the Suburban model to go for, as it's the most versatile trim in terms of performance, seating, and options, and comes comprehensively outfitted with features as standard. The optional 6.2-liter V8 and ten-speed auto greatly improve the Suburban's straight-line performance and overall driving experience, but it comes at the cost of the Suburbans Max Trailer Package which is needed for the 8,300-pound max capacity. It's still capable of a decent 8,100-pound tow capacity, as long as the 2WD system is kept in play. This also benefits acceleration and fuel-efficiency. The optional V8 is available via one of two packages, and we suggest the all-inclusive Premium Plus Edition package which also throws in a head-up display, an eight-inch enhanced driver info center, a power moonroof, rear-seat infotainment system, and a trailer brake controller, to name just a few.
The Chevrolet Tahoe is essentially a smaller variation of the Suburban. In comparison, the Tahoe's wheelbase measures 14 inches shorter. It's also slightly more affordable, with a starting MSRP of $49,000. Passengers will find the Tahoe's third-row seats are a lot less spacious than the Suburban's and also that there's significantly less cargo room in the trunk, with only 15.3 cubic feet on offer. The Tahoe is a bit easier to maneuver around, though, by virtue of its shorter body, and it's a little more frugal on gas, thanks to its lighter weight. Otherwise, both are pretty much identical in every other regard; both offer the same powertrains, the same trim lineup, and the same features, both even offer the same seating configurations. At the end of the day, the Suburban offers advantages in passenger and cargo room, two very important factors in this class, where the Tahoes' easier maneuverability and slightly more fuel-efficient performance aren't really beneficial.
Perhaps the Suburban's number one competitor, the Ford Expedition, is as much of a venerated contender and as much of an experienced nameplate as the long-standing Suburban is in the USA. Both are similarly packaged as premium SUV's and are closely priced to another as well. A more powerful turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine and polished ten-speed auto gearbox give the Expedition a slight edge over the Suburban with its base and optional V8 powertrain. While Chevy's IntelliLink infotainment system is exceptional, it's beat by Ford's Sync 3 system, which, while more user-friendly and high quality, is also linked up to a superior 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen Play audio system, delivering far greater entertainment quality overall. The Expedition can only seat a total of eight occupants though, so if you need space for nine, the Suburban is your choice. On the other hand, the Expedition will haul greater loads, so if you have a speed boat to tag along, the Expedition is your go-to option. The Expedition takes the vote as the better vehicle for how much value it proffers for the money.
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