2008 Suburban 2500 New Car Test Drive
The Chevy Suburban has been thoroughly redesigned for 2007, which means it might be called 'all new,' although it seems odd to apply those words to something that's been around for 70 years. This is the 11th generation of the venerable Suburban. And despite the fact that the current times might be less friendly to the trusty old truck than before, with vehicles of its size being demonized for causing the melting of icecaps and whatnot, the Suburban is no dinosaur. It is needed. And it is loved by those who need it. It can tow heavy trailers and haul loads of people and gear, all at the same time.
The Chevrolet Suburban comes in three trim levels, with two- or four-wheel drive. It's available in light-duty 1500 or heavy-duty 2500 chassis. The latest generation of its 5.3-liter Vortec engine (downsized to 325 cubic inches from 350 in the old days) has an aluminum block and makes 310 horsepower with 355 pound-feet of torque. The optional engine is a new 6.0-liter mill, with an aluminum block and heads and variable valve timing, making 366 horsepower and 380 pound-feet.
The popular 5.3-liter (1500, 4WD) is EPA-rated at 15 City and 20 Highway miles per gallon, on regular unleaded, and it can also run on ethanol); the same truck with the 6.0-liter engine is rated at 14/18. Keep in mind that EPA ratings are usually high; you won't likely achieve those numbers.
Safety equipment on all models includes dual frontal airbags, anti-lock disc brakes with electronic proportioning, and electronic stability with anti-rollover mitigation and traction control. Full length airbag curtains are optional, but front side airbags are not available.
Another 6.0-liter engine, with an iron block, comes with the 2500 models. The 2500 also adds hydroboost to the brakes, a heavier suspension with leaf springs, and 16-inch truck tires. The 2500 4WD is rated to tow 9400 pounds, while the 1500 can tow 8000.
The styling changes to the new Suburban are subtle but significant, and handsome. The windshield is raked for better aerodynamics, and the chrome has been swept off the LS and LT. Inside, the dashboard has been lowered and instrument panel finally made tidy. The seats have been raised, giving a commanding view of the road with that lowered dashboard; with optional adjustable pedals, a driver of any size can achieve a comfortable and confident driving position.
The Suburban can seat from six to nine passengers, depending on the seats that are chosen. There are 137.4 cubic feet of storage behind the front seats, with the second row folded and third row removed. Behind the raised third row, there are still 45.8 cubic feet. This (and towing) is what the vehicle is all about: passengers and cargo. However, unlike a growing number of SUVs, the seats don't fold flat into the floor, unfortunate for outdoorsmen who view the cargo compartment as an occasional sleeping area. Setting a nine-foot fly rod in there without having to break it down is still a real luxury, however, and the back of the 'burb will accept other long items that are awkward to load into smaller rigs.
The all-new frame is stronger, stiffer and fully boxed (49 percent stiffer and 35 percent more resistant to twisting). The rigid new frame enabled the suspension to be redesigned, and a rack-and-pinion steering system is used, for the first time. The front track has been widened by three inches, and the rear by one inch. This Suburban rides and handles much sweeter than any before it: less undulation and more precision.
Considering the vehicle weighs nearly three tons (5745 pounds), the acceleration is strong, and the powerful sound of the engine under full throttle is satisfying. The four-speed automatic transmission is smooth, though most SUVs at this level now come with more flexible five-speed automatics.
The all-new 2007 Chevy Suburban comes in three models, LS, LT and LTZ, with each model available in either two- or four-wheel drive, and 1500 (half ton) or 2500 (three-quarter ton) chassis. The standard engine is GM's Vortec 5.3-liter overhead-valve V8, with Active Fuel Management (which cuts four cylinders when coasting) and flex-fuel capability (4WD only), meaning it can run on E85 ethanol. The new generation of this engine has an aluminum block and makes 310 horsepower with 355 pound-feet of torque. The optional 6.0-liter engine ($1095) is all aluminum with variable valve timing, making 366 horsepower and 380 pound-feet.
Another 6.0-liter engine, with an iron block, comes with the 2500 models. The 2500 also adds hydroboost to the brakes, a heavier suspension with leaf springs, and 16-inch truck tires.
There are three transmissions, all of them four-speed automatics, but with three levels of beefiness: Hydra-Matic RL60 for the 5.3-liter engines, RL70 for the aluminum 6.0-liter engine, and RL80 for the 6.0-liter in the 2500. They all have a Tow/Haul mode, which reduces shifting and makes the shifts quicker, so the transmission doesn't work so hard when pulling a big load. Transmission oil temperature is part of the instrumentation, along with a tire pressure monitor.
Standard equipment on the LS ($37,760) and LS 4WD ($40,560) includes cloth interior, power locks and windows, power steering and air conditioning, tinted windows behind the B pillar; roof rails (crossbars are $45 extra), folding heated mirrors, recovery hooks, a seven-wire trailer harness, 17-inch aluminum wheels, three power outlets, AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system with eight speakers, center fold-down armrest with storage, overhead console, cruise control, 40/20/40 split front bench seat with six-way power adjustment for the driver, 60/40 second-row seat, and third row split bench seat.
The LT 2WD ($38,535) and 4WD ($41,355) come with front bucket seats and a floor console between them, rear audio controls, six-disc sound system, cargo shade, and optional 18- or 20-inch wheels.
The LTZ 2WD ($46,645) and 4WD ($49,250) come standard with leather interior, full-length airbag curtains, a 12-way power memory driver's seat, 20-inch wheels, locking rear differential, power adjustable pedals, XM Satellite Radio, and the Autoride semi-active electronic suspension, which uses body and wheel motion sensors to respond to road and driving conditions.
The Suburban 2500 comes in LS ($38,945) and LT ($39,705) versions. Four-wheel drive is available.
The Z1 Off-road Appearance Package ($1795) includes a different grille and fascia, rectangular rather than round fog lamps, body-colored wheel flares, satin chrome mirrors and door handles, tubular assist steps, 18-inch wheels with on/off road tires, off-road suspension package, exterior badging, different instrument cluster and two-tone interior trim.
Options include a navigation system ($2250), rear-seat entertainment system ($1295), power sunroof ($995), second-row bucket seats ($490), power release for those seats ($425), power liftgate ($350), rearview camera monitor ($250), park assist ($245), three-passenger third-row seat ($100), heated washer fluid system ($85 ), and 20-inch polished aluminum wheels ($1795). Other options include a locking rear differential, engine block heater, transmission oil cooler, power adjustable pedals, remote starter, and audio upgrades.
Safety equipment on all models includes dual frontal airbags, anti-lock disc brakes with electronic proportioning, and StabiliTrak, GM's electronic stability program with anti-rollover mitigation and traction control. Full length airbag curtains with rollover detection are optional, but front side airbags are not available. All Suburbans come with one year of OnStar; the OnStar operators will send help if the airbags deploy and you don't respond.