2007 Suburban 1500 New Car Test Drive
The new, 2007 Chevy Suburban has a square-jawed face that's smooth and rugged at the same time. It's a twin to the shorter Tahoe. The mesh grille is split by a gold Chevy bowtie, and the headlights are all business, nothing fancy, just good-looking function: big near-rectangles at the corners. They're halogen and do an excellent job of lighting up the road. The bumper fascia reveals a low license-plate holder sandwiched by openings for tow hooks, with small round fog lamps at the corners like single teardrops falling from the headlamp eyes. The seam between the fascia and fenders is very tight, and an indication that GM is improving its build quality.
Rake has been added to the windshield, improving the aerodynamics and looks. The hood has two long bulges at its sides, extending from almost the windshield to almost the grille; Chevy calls these twin bulges the power dome.
The rear liftgate is still vertical, and the rear window opens independently, with both the manual and power liftgate, which is aluminum, reducing the weight and thus the effort to raise and lower it. Our test model had the convenient power liftgate. Split doors are not available.
The Suburban LT looks clean and stylish from the side, without chrome trim. Too bad the thick five-spoke wheels are boring, costing the 'burb an opportunity to look real sharp. Seventeen-inchers are standard but 18-inchers are optional, as are 20-inchers that are too big for grown-ups and degrade the ride.
The Chevy Suburban can seat six to nine passengers. Our test model with the LT3 equipment group was equipped to carry seven, with a 60/40 second-row seat for three, and a two-passenger third-row seat. Many other SUVs can carry seven passengers without taking up so much space on the road, but the passengers are cramped (and these SUVs can't ever carry nine). Our second row had the fold-and-tumble system with optional power (one button on the dash, another on the C pillar to be used by the third-row passengers upon entering, or for grabbing cargo through the rear doors), a $425 option that saves a struggle. A motor drives the seatbacks down against the seats, and together they flip up against the back of the front seats.
Cargo space is plentiful, with 137.4 cubic feet of storage behind the front seats (with the second row folded and third row removed). With all the seats in place, set up for passengers, 45.8 cubic feet of cargo space is available.
The seats don't fold flat into the floor, however. This just does not seem right to us. GM says its customers don't care enough to justify the expense. We care, and would much prefer the seats fold perfectly flat; it's a feature we loved on older Suburbans. Outdoorsmen like to sleep back there, either when camping or when pulling over to nap on a long drive home after a long day in the field. Another benefit of a flat floor is when hauling dogs around. Apparently, no one in GM's focus groups fit these descriptions. We view this as a big step backward.
There's good legroom in the second row, a slight increase over pre-2007 models to 39.4 inches, nearly as much as in the front. The seatbacks recline a bit more than before. In the base LS with the front bench seat, there's a fold-down armrest with cup holders; our LT was equipped with front bucket seats and a fixed, huge console having audio controls at the back for the second-row passengers. Wireless headphones go with the optional entertainment system with a DVD screen that drops down from the headliner.
There's good head room and relatively decent leg room (34.9 inches) in the third row, and a great view through the wraparound tinted glass. The third-row passengers have their own climate control vents, as do the second-row passengers. The HVAC system has been upgraded.
Given the lift-over height at the rear bumper, it's not easy to climb up in through the back to reach things, especially since there are no grab handles; nor are there standard hooks or nets in the back. But there is a nice compartment over the left wheel well, for tools, flashlights, maps or the like.
Smart storage space abounds. The huge console has deep storage box and a tray on top. The glovebox is 25 percent larger than on pre-2007 models. There are two cup holders in a removable tray forward of the console, and one in each wide door pocket. There's a slot in the dash just left of the turn signal, perfect for coins or tickets.
The dashboard has been lowered by six inches, and the seats redesigned and raised, with a more secure seatbelt mounting on the B pillar. They are very comfortable, in leather, with firmer foam, more bolstering and less lumbar. The seats are still plenty soft, not nearly so firm as a Mercedes SUV or Range Rover. The driver sits way up high, which especially appeals to women, and the optional adjustable pedals work for either long or short legs.
Interior trim is softer and less glossy than before. The instruments and gauges are finally clean and stylish, and the switchgear is simple. The touch-screen radio/navigation system is easy to operate. We set the programs we liked, and could switch from an XM to AM to FM with one finger push.
The rearview camera and monitor that's available is an excellent one, because the focus is good and the backup lights are bright. These cameras make turning around in tight areas much easier and make parallel parking both easier and quicker. They.