2003 Suburban 1500 New Car Test Drive
Chevrolet Suburban boasts more than 40 major enhancements for 2003. The 'burb was completely redesigned for 2000, and this year's model benefits from major mid-cycle revisions.
Some of the changes can be seen, including the climate controls and a new family of radios, both of which are easier to use yet more powerful and more sophisticated than last year's. XM Satellite Radio is available, along with a new Panasonic DVD system for back-seat monkeys.
Other changes are harder to discern, but are more important. Dual-stage front airbags provide improved safety in an accident, while the availability of the StabiliTrak electronic stability control system lessens the chance of losing control. Adjustable pedals are available for an improved driving position. And an all-new electrical architecture promises improved reliability.
In spite of all these changes, the Suburban's mission has not wavered. It remains the first choice for anyone who needs to haul six or more people plus their cargo. Chevrolet Suburban offers a cavernous interior with seats that fold down for monster cargo loads. It's based on an excellent full-size truck frame and its V8 engines deliver strong torque for towing heavy loads. The Suburban provides a stable, comfortable ride for long-distance travel. And it's capable of going off road.
Suburban 2500-series models can be ordered with Quadrasteer electronic four-wheel steering for dramatically increased maneuverability in tight spaces and improved control when towing a trailer.
Chevrolet Suburban comes with a choice of two- or four-wheel drive and is available in two load ranges, 1500 and 2500. Most people find the 1500 models meet their needs.
Suburban 1500 models come equipped with a 5.3-liter V8. The 2500 models are available with a choice of 6.0-liter or 8.1-liter V8s.
Two trim levels are available: LS and LT. In two-wheel drive, the LS starts at $36,305 and the LT at $39,615. In four-wheel drive, the prices are $39,105 and $42,415 respectively.
LS models come standard with three-zone air conditioning, heated outside mirrors, with a self-dimming mirror on the driver's side, six-way power front seats, side-step assist steps, a rear window defogger, fog lights and a HomeLink Universal transmitter.
LT models add luxury equipment, including automatic climate control, leather seat inserts, power folding mirrors, and a Bose premium stereo with nine speakers and a six-disc CD changer.
Z71 off-road package ($5167) includes heavy-duty springs and gas-pressure shocks, plus special appearance items outside and LT-grade comfort and convenience items inside.
A new rear-seat Panasonic DVD player ($1485 on LS, $1295 on LT) is available for 2003. XM Satellite Radio ($325) is available and receives 100 coast-to-coast channels, many of them commercial-free. An electric tilt-and-slide sunroof is available ($988-$1285) on LS and LT.
Chevrolet Suburban looks like an old friend. It was completely redesigned for 2000, which gave it a smoother and more aerodynamic look. Sharp edges were rounded. New headlights gave it a more contemporary appearance. But there is no mistaking the 'burb.
Two tailgate configurations are available. The one-piece rear hatch ($250) works best for most families. It's lightweight and can be opened with one hand. Also available are side-by-side cargo doors, which we like because they open wide and allow a closer working position to the cargo area. Cargo doors are also useful when pulling trailers because they will usually clear the trailer tongue jack. We also like them because it's easier to control a dog when opening them. The hinges have been re-engineered to let the doors open wide without having to disconnect the hinges manually.
A puddle lamp mounted below the side mirrors shines down to light up the perimeter of the Suburban. It can be turned on using the keyless remote. That makes it a nice feature when approaching the Suburban in a dark parking garage, as it illuminates underneath the vehicle. It can also be used in the backwoods to illuminate mud puddles.
Suburban is about 17 inches longer than the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon, and nearly identical to the GMC Yukon XL (which was called the GMC Suburban until recently).