2009 Suburban 1500 New Car Test Drive
The Suburban nameplate is the longest-running in Chevrolet history and will soon turn 75. It's aging very well.
Sometimes you just need something big, something strong, something with genuine four-wheel drive and you need it all in one truck. A truck that will tow a sizable trailer and carry lots of people or haul a load of cargo over primitive roads is an indispensible tool for those who need it. That's the Suburban's mission. It has gotten more luxurious over the years, sometimes becoming a substitute for a large sedan.
For 2009, the Suburban comes with a new six-speed automatic transmission. An integrated trailer brake controller is now available, which is a great feature for towing. Also new is the latest OnStar version 8.0, Bluetooth, wheels, colors, an added third screen for the rear-seat entertainment option, XM NavTraffic, two choices of backup camera systems, side Blind Zone Alert option, more standards on LTZ (such as heated and cooled memory front seats), a Luxury package to bring a 2LT trim-level closer to LTZ spec. The Suburban was completely redesigned for 2007.
Suburban can handle 137 cubic feet of cargo, or up to nine passengers and 45 cubic feet or stuff, and myriad combinations in between. Two weight classes are offered, the normal 1500 and the heavy-duty 2500.
The Suburban competes with the Ford Expedition EL (8 seats max), the GMC Yukon XL, the Cadillac Escalade ESV (more features and power, no low-range 4WD), Lincoln Navigator L, Toyota Sequoia and Nissan Armada.
The 2009 Chevy Suburban comes with 2WD or 4WD, half-ton 1500 series or three-quarter-ton 2500 series. Both offer LS and LT (subdivided into 1LT and 2LT) models; the luxury-oriented LTZ comes only on 1500.
Every 1500 comes standard with one of three 310-hp 5.3-liter V8 engines, each with AFM which switches off half of the cylinders when the power or idle smoothness isn't needed. The 1500 2WD LS gets an iron-block engine and the E85-capable version is available on LS (no charge) and standard on LT-and-up. All 1500 4WD trucks come with an aluminum-block, E85-capable 5.3 standard. EPA ratings for 5.3-powered Suburbans run 14 city/19-20 highway on gasoline and 10/15 mpg on E85.
An aluminum-block, 366-hp 6-liter V8 with AFM and variable valve timing is optional on all 1500 (around $1100). EPA ratings for 2WD are 14/19 mpg; expect 4WD numbers to be equal or 1 mpg lower.
2500 series Suburbans come only with a heavy-duty iron-block, 352-hp 6-liter V8 and stronger six-speed automatic transmission. Although there are no badges or names denoting 2500 these heavy-duty Suburbans use different steering gear, brake parts, suspension, alternators, wheels, tires, axles and fuel tank than 1500-series. All prices given below are for 1500-series trucks and are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices that do not include the destination charge. Approximate $1400-$2000 more for a 2500 series, which range from $41,980-$45,495 in 2WD and $44,820-$48,340 for 4WD.
Standard equipment on the 1500 LS 2WD ($40,370) and 1500 LS 4WD ($43,215) includes cloth interior, power locks and windows, air conditioning, leather wheel with cruise and audio controls, tinted rear windows; roof rails (crossbars are extra), folding power heated mirrors, recovery hooks, a seven-wire trailer harness, 17-inch aluminum wheels, three power outlets, AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 sound system with eight speakers (3 month XM trial), 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, 50/50 third-row split-bench seat, and OnStar 8.0 with one-year Safe & Sound service plan. 4WD versions add the aluminum-block flex-fuel V8 and Autotrac 4WD system that has on-pavement all-wheel drive ability.
LS-grade options include a Convenience package (adjustable pedals, remote start, rear park assist, and rear camera display in rear-view mirror ($1060), trailer package ($230), locking differential ($295), integrated trailer brake controller ($200), 3.42:1 axle ratio (no charge), floor mats, flex-fuel E85 engine (no charge), and engine block heater ($75).
The LT 2WD ($41,380) and 4WD ($44,225) come with front bucket power seats and a floor console between them, flex-fuel engine, 60/40 split-recline second row, cargo shade, fog lamps and paint-matched mirrors, door handles and side moldings. OnStar is upgraded to Directions & Connections service, which includes Turn-by-Turn Navigation.
Options on 1LT trucks include the Convenience and Trailering packages, 6-liter V8, rear entertainment system ($1295), third-row screen ($600), navigation with XM NavTraffic ($2500 plus XM subscription), 20-inch wheels ($1795), three-zone air conditioning ($195), and UGDO ($120).
The 2LT 2WD ($43,905) and 4WD ($46,750) models add leather upholstery for first and second-row seats, three-zone AC, adjustable pedals, rear audio controls, CD changer, and rear park assist. Options include the 6-liter V8, Autoride suspension with rear air assist/self-leveling, rear entertainment, navigation, skid plates, Bose audio system upgrade ($500) and a Luxury package (heated 10-way front and power-release second-row buckets, Bose audio, power-folding mirrors, power liftgate, auto-dimming mirrors with turn signals).
A Z71 off-road package is offered only on LT trucks, in 2WD or 4WD. It adds a different chrome grille and fascia, rectangular fog lamps, body-colored fender flares, mirrors and door handles, tubular assist steps, 18-inch wheels with on/off road tires, off-road suspension package, automatic locking differential, skid plate, higher-capacity air cleaner. and badges.
At the top of the half-ton line is the LTZ ($50,615) and LTZ 4WD ($53,460), which includes the contents of the 2LT Luxury package, heated and cooled perforated leather front seats with memory, Bose Centerpoint surround sound system, Autoride, locking differential, remote start, chrome mirrors, 20-inch aluminum wheels, and rain-sensing wipers. Options include navigation, rear entertainment, floor mats ($276 for entire truck) and side Blind Zone Alert ($500).
Safety equipment on all models includes dual frontal airbags, full-length head-curtain airbags, front seat belt pretensioners, a tire-pressure monitor, anti-lock disc brakes with electronic proportioning, and StabiliTrak, GM's electronic stability program with anti-rollover mitigation and traction control. OnStar telematics will send help if the airbags deploy and you don't respond. Safety-related options include rear park assist, rear-view camera, and side Blind Zone Alert. Side airbags are not available.