The Suburban 2500 model is no more, but mid-grade Suburban LS models gain a raft of standard equipment, including remote start, auto-dimming rearview mirrors, a rearview camera, and rear park assist -- all features previously available as optional equipment...
Demand for sport-utility vehicles may have exploded in the 1990s, but the Chevrolet Suburban, first introduced in 1936, is a true stalwart. Although an all-new model is being readied for an introduction early next year, the current Suburban, which dates back to late 2006, soldiers on for the 2014 model year. The heavy-duty 2500 three-quarter-ton models have been eliminated from the lineup, but the half-ton Suburban 1500 can still handle trailers weighing up to 8100 pounds.
Once upon a time, the Suburban was the darling of Chevrolet's consumer truck lineup, but as fuel costs have risen, big SUVs have largely given way to the three-row crossover. Downsizing isn't necessarily an option for large families, though, especially those who frequently travel with luggage, large pets, or watercraft in tow. Big demands require a big vehicle -- and that's where the Suburban comes in.
The Suburban is no wider or taller than most full-size SUVs, but its 222.4-inch overall length is gargantuan. The freighterlike length is not only slightly larger than its lone true competitor -- the Ford Expedition EL -- but it also allows for interior space that dwarfs most entry-level Manhattan apartments. Depending on how you order a Suburban, the SUV provides seating for up to nine passengers but for no fewer than seven. Second-row passengers have 39.5 inches of legroom, and even those forced to scamper to the third row have an adequate 34.9 inches. Remarkably, even with the third row up, the Suburban offers 45.8 cubic feet of cargo space.
Despite its size, the Suburban drives quite well. Its extreme length is apparent only in tight parking situations, but an available backup camera and park-assist system -- now standard on 2014 Suburban LS and LTZ models -- help in tricky maneuvers. Adaptive rear dampers are included on the Suburban LTZ and are paired with a self-leveling rear suspension. The 5.3-liter V-8 offers plenty of grunt when needed, and the six-speed automatic shifts smoothly. The EPA rates 2014 Suburban models at 15/21 mpg city/highway. That's what we expect from a truck that weighs nearly 6000 pounds, and it's also better than the 14/20 mpg rating affixed to the competitive Ford Expedition EL.
Our biggest complaint with the Suburban lies with its interior decor. Even on top-tier LTZ models, trim materials feel inexpensive, and the overall design is dated. Even so, the Suburban is available with modern niceties including Bluetooth hands-free phone pairing, a USB audio input, SiriusXM satellite radio, and GM's OnStar telematics service.
If an upscale interior is a must-have, consider shopping the Suburban's GMC and Cadillac counterparts (Yukon XL and Escalade ESV, respectively) or waiting for the next-generation Chevy, expected as a 2015 model. But if a modern, vogue interior design isn't a primary concern but space and capability are, there's little reason not to shop for a deal on a 2014 Suburban.
- Ford Expedition EL
- Honda Pilot
- Nissan Armada
- Toyota Land Cruiser