2018 Suburban New Car Test Drive
The Chevy Suburban can tow a heavy trailer, transport large numbers of people, haul a mountain of cargo, or stand up to rugged terrain.
If you're transporting passengers on paved roads and aren't towing trailers, a crossover SUV or minivan is a more efficient choice. Crossovers are lighter and get better fuel economy, but they don't offer the Suburban's capabilities.
Built on a truck chassis, with its body attached to a separate frame, and riding on a truck suspension, the Suburban can withstand repeated travel over rugged terrain and rough roads and it can haul large or heavy cargoes.
Suburban offers fuel economy that nearly matches that of the Chevy Tahoe, and the Suburban's added length improves stability while towing and increases cargo capacity and passenger roominess.
Rally Sport Truck, or RST, is a new appearance package for 2018 with black trim and 22-inch alloy wheels available for LT and Premier models. The 2018 Suburban otherwise carries over unchanged.
With a nameplate dating to 1935, the Chevrolet Suburban began its 11th generation as a 2015 model with fresh styling and a refined cabin.
Its direct-injected 5.3-liter V8 EcoTec3 with aluminum block and heads was all new for 2015. It makes 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. 2018 Suburbans come with a smooth six-speed automatic, but that may soon be updated with a transmission with more gears, to increase fuel mileage.
The Chevrolet Suburban's only rival is the all-new Ford Expedition EL, a smooth, refined vehicle with a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that makes 365 horsepower, 420 pound-feet of torque, for a 9200-pound towing capacity. Brisk acceleration performance enables it to merge smoothly into fast traffic.
The Suburban is rated to tow up to 8300 pounds with rear-wheel drive. Larger engines and 2500-series versions are not available. If you want that, check out a Silverado 2500 Crew Cab.
Handling is impressive for a nearly three-ton vehicle, that is 224 inches long on 103-inch wheelbase. And the ride is smooth if firm, which contributes a lot to family happiness. So does the quiet cabin.
The Suburban gets an EPA-rated 15 City, 23 Highway miles per gallon with rear-wheel drive, a bit less with four-wheel drive.
The Suburban comes in LS ($50,150), LT ($55,280) and Premier ($64,380) models, all with 5.3-liter V8 engine, rear-wheel drive, six-speed automatic transmission, and fold-flat second- and third-row seats. All-wheel drive is more ($3000).
Suburban LS comes with cloth upholstery, front bucket seats with 10-way power-adjustable driver and two-way passenger seats, tri-zone climate controls, AM/FM/CD audio, satellite radio, remote vehicle starting, rear view camera, rear park assist, manually adjustable second- and third-row seats. A front bench seat is available for three-passenger front seating.
Suburban LT upgrades with leather trim for first- and second-row seats, heated power front seats with memory feature, Bose premium audio, MyLink infotainment system, power liftgate with programmable height, lane departure warning, forward collision alert.
Suburban Premier adds heated and cooled front seats, fog lamps, HID headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, heated power side mirrors, power tilt/telescope steering column with memory, heated leather steering wheel, keyless entry, pushbutton start, power folding second- and third-row seatbacks, power adjustable pedals, 110-volt power outlet, 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels, blind spot warning, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert.
Options include navigation, power-folding second- and third-row seats, power liftgate, cargo management system, Blu-Ray DVD entertainment system, and as many as six USB ports and six power outlets.
Safety features on all models include a safety alert seat that vibrates if the system determines the driver is at risk of colliding with another vehicle. A rear vision camera comes standard that shows the area immediately behind the vehicle on the audio screen, very helpful for hooking up a trailer. All Suburbans come standard with seven air bags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, trailer sway control, traction control. Bucket-seat models include a front center air bag that deploys from the inboard side of the driver's seat and inflates between driver and front passenger for added protection in a side-impact crash. Also available: side blind-zone alert, lane-change alert, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, crash-imminent braking.