Suburban Reviews

From Edmunds:

One of the longest-running models sold in the United States, the Chevrolet Suburban debuted back in 1936. After serving faithfully for many evolutionary years as a truck primarily meant for commercial or rural use, the extra-large Suburban has increasingly become the go-to choice for families or those in need of class-leading passenger and cargo capacity, third-row seating and solid truck-based towing capability.

With stout underpinnings, strong powertrains, a comfortable ride and spacious seating for up to nine plus their cargo, the current truck is a very capable large SUV. A short list of competitive sport-utilities may offer more refinement and ultra-lux conveniences for more bucks, but the big Suburban (as well as its GMC equivalent, the Yukon XL) remains the only full-size SUV available in both light- (1500) and heavy-duty (2500) versions. It certainly comes recommended, and older models are also good choices for consumers desiring a used SUV.

Current Chevrolet Suburban
The Chevrolet Suburban full-size SUV is available in three well-equipped trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ. All are powered by V8s. Standard on the Suburban 1500 is a 5.3-liter unit making 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. The 2500 gets a 6.0-liter V8 packing 352 horses and 382 lb-ft. Both are matched to a smooth and cooperative six-speed automatic transmission. A choice of two- or four-wheel drive is yours either way, and towing capacities can approach 10,000 pounds.

For such a big truck, the Chevrolet Suburban is relatively quick. However, the base V8 Suburban doesn’t always feel so quick when carrying a full load of passengers or cargo. The suspension system is impressive, though, and provides composed handling and a smooth ride. The Suburban isn’t exactly nimble around corners, but the cabin is quiet at speed and the ride is always comfortably controlled. When pointed straight down an interstate or out in the wide-open spaces, there aren’t many better, more capable cruisers than the Chevrolet Suburban. Overall, it’s a compelling choice for SUV shoppers with lots of people- or gear-hauling needs.

Used Chevrolet Suburban Models
The present-generation Chevrolet Suburban debuted for the 2007 model year. Compared to the previous Suburban, this version rides on an updated chassis that provides all of its prior strength along with a more comfortable ride and improved handling, performance and efficiency. These Suburbans also boast safety advancements like front seat side airbags, stability control and side curtain airbags for all three rows.

Originally, the 5.3-liter V8 was standard only on the LS and 1LT, and it produced 310 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque. The 6.2-liter V8 was standard on the 2LT and LTZ models at this time as well, but it featured a slightly lower output (366 hp, 376 lb-ft) than the 2500 version, which has remained unchanged. For 2010, the 5.3-liter became standard on every 1500 and adopted its current output. Another key difference is the standard four-speed automatic transmission on hand prior to 2008 on the 2500 and ’09 for the 1500.

The previous-generation Suburban that debuted for the 2000 model year and lasted through 2006 was packaged more efficiently than before — and although increasingly outclassed by newer competitors in its later years, its warehouse-sized interior made it an easy pick for families and home remodelers who truly needed to max out passenger and cargo space. Interior materials and fit and finish were merely adequate, however, and the exterior design was beginning to look a tad dated. Plus, it was still a brick aerodynamically.

It was slightly shorter than its predecessor, as earlier Chevrolet Suburban models shared much of their styling and powertrains with the GM full-size pickups on which they were based. Several trim levels and a couple modest V8s were available initially, but by 2001 the two “small-block” engines were up to 285 and 320 hp, and were still outpaced by an available new 8.1-liter V8 with 340 hp and 455 lb-ft of stump-pulling torque.

The Chevy Suburban inched further up the comfort scale as the years went by, but the big news for 2003 was the availability of an innovative Quadrasteer four-wheel-steering system on 3/4-ton models — reducing the turning circle by a substantial 8 feet and also improving towing stability. The cabin was now more accommodating, too, with numerous improvements like tri-zone climate controls and available DVD entertainment, second-row captain’s chairs and power-adjustable pedals. Updates including OnStar, steering-wheel audio controls and tire-pressure monitoring carried the big Chevy through 2006.

Previous to this, there was the Suburban from 1992-’99. After a long, enduring model run by the previous generation that extended from 1973-’91, the then-new ’92 Chevrolet Suburban finally adopted the sleek body design and freshened interiors of its previously updated pickup truck siblings. In addition to handsome new looks, the completely redesigned next-generation Suburban boasted more glass area and a lower step-in height than its predecessor.

After a few years of detail improvements, redesigned seats and a new modular dashboard graced the Suburban’s interior in 1995, and a year later daytime running lamps marked the adoption of several powerful new Vortec gasoline engines ranging up to 290 hp. For off-roaders, four-wheel-drive models substituted a modern independent front suspension and more convenient Insta-Trac electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case. In 1998, four-wheel-drive operation was enhanced again with an optional AutoTrac automatic full-time 4WD system for set-it-and-forget-it convenience.


From KBB:

Say what you will about the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban SUV, be it praise or scorn, at the end of the day the Suburban has survived as long as it has because it fills a huge need. Whether you’ve got a small brood of offspring or a big toy that needs transport to the summer vacation spot, you’ll need the seating space, cargo room and towing capability of the 2012 Chevy Suburban. Available in 1500 half-ton and heavy-duty 2500 3/4-ton models (the 2500 increases the Suburban’s max payload and tow ratings), the 2012 Chevy Suburban SUV fears no task. Yet, despite its critics, today’s Suburban isn’t really the gas-thirsty hog it once was, nor does it handle poorly and drive like an old-fashioned truck. In fact, the 2012 Chevy Suburban SUV has an EPA rating of 21 mpg on the highway, is loaded with the latest GM safety equipment and, despite its bow-tie badging, is a pretty luxurious cruiser.

You’ll Like This Car If…If you require the ability to carry up to nine people and/or need to tow more than 9,000 pounds, the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban is up to the job. And, since the Suburban seems to be the vehicle of choice for most government agencies (and Hollywood films portraying said agencies), your kids might actually think your new SUV is cool. Get it in black.
You May Not Like This Car If…While the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban SUV achieves decent fuel economy on the highway, around-town jaunts will likely yield much lower figures. The Suburban is big and it’s no joy to try and fit it into crowded shopping-mall parking spots or maneuver through narrow confines. If you don’t need the Suburban’s towing capability, the 2012 Chevy Traverse crossover SUV may be a better choice.What’s New for 2012

The 2012 Chevy Suburban SUV receives a new navigation radio option, while the standard StabiliTrak now includes trailer sway control and hill start assist. The LTZ trim gains a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and side blind zone alert, while the LT trims gains heated leather seats.

Driving the Suburban 1500

Driving ImpressionsDespite being an extremely large SUV built on a truck frame and designed to pull or carry heavy loads, the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban SUV delivers a suitable comfortable ride around…

town and on the highway. Occupants will certainly feel the bumps, but the suspension does an admirable job of absorbing them. All models benefit from capable V8 engines and a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission, though more powertrain noise makes its way to the cabin than some drivers may prefer.

Favorite Features

Active Fuel Management Technology
This technology is also known as cylinder deactivation. In light-load situations, such as cruising on a flat highway, power is cut from eight to four cylinders in an effort to conserve fuel. As soon as more power is needed, all eight cylinders are automatically put back to work.

Power-Operated Running Boards
The available power-operated running boards, which pop out when a door is opened and retreat when closed, are of considerable help for passengers who find getting into and out of the Suburban to be difficult.

2012 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 Details

InteriorWith its available front bench seat, the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban can seat up to nine passengers, although we suspect most will have the 8-person configuration and front bucket seats. A clever set of fold-and-tumble second-row seats makes for easier access to the third-row seats which, when not in use, can be folded flat. Unfortunately, unlike the Ford Expedition, whose third-row seat folds flush into the floor well, the 2012 Chevy Suburban’s third-row seats must be manually removed, requiring some labor on your part as well as a place to store the 50/50-split seats. As for the interior itself, we’d say it’s conservative yet attractive, with a few too many hard plastic bits on base trims, but a nicer set-up on the premium LTZ. Naturally Chevrolet gives the Suburban lots of storage areas, cup holders and power outlets, as well as up to 137.4 cubic feet of storage space behind the front-row seats.


Of all the cars on your dealer’s lot, the one that stands out head and shoulders (or bumpers and roof racks) above the rest is the 2012 Chevy Suburban SUV. Despite its massive size, Chevy has given the Suburban a clean-slate look, with smooth sides, flushed side glass and simple, straight lines. Its body-on-frame architecture is shared with stable siblings the Silverado pickup and Avalanche truck, but somehow the Suburban manages to come off less work truck and more limo. Chevrolet’s careful attention to detail includes engineering minimal gaps between body panels and a restrained use of chrome trim. Tire and wheel packages range from the standard 17-inch set all the way to the available 20-inch chrome-clad wheels on the LTZ trim. Dealer-installed accessories include 20- and 22-inch wheels. Side step rails make accessing the roof a bit easier and big side mirrors help eliminate blind spots. If there is one weakness in the Suburban design, it’s the lack of a vented rear side-glass panel, something the third-row passengers would probably appreciate.
Notable Equipment
Standard EquipmentChevrolet offers its 2012 Suburban SUV in three flavors: LS, LT and LTZ. Shoppers considering the LS will discover a list of standard features that includes USB and auxiliary input jacks, Bluetooth connectivity, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and complimentary access to SiriusXM satellite radio service and OnStar’s Turn-by-Turn navigation tool. The LT adds upgrades such as leather upholstery, heated front seats, triple-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable pedals and a remote-start system, while the LTZ packs on second-row bucket seats, heated and cooling front seats, Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound audio, a heated steering wheel, navigation with a rearview camera and SiriusXM’s real-time NavTraffic updates.
Optional EquipmentThere’s no shortage of optional equipment available for the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban SUV, as Chevy offers the 2012 model with a variety of stand-alone features and equipment packages. The options include a power sunroof, power-retractable running boards, a remote-controlled rear DVD unit with wireless headphones, a blind-spot system and chrome wheels measuring up to 22 inches. For a more aggressive look and added capability, the Z71 Off-Road Package fits the Suburban with off-road tires and suspension components, skid plates, an automatic locking rear differential, and a chrome grille.
Under the Hood

Chevrolet equips its 2012 Suburban 1500 with a 5.3-liter V8 that delivers 320 horsepower when running on gasoline or 326 horses if the fuel tank is filled with E85 (a mixture of 85-percent ethanol and 15-percent gasoline). The heavy-duty Suburban 2500 packs a bigger punch with its 352-horsepower 6.0-liter V8. Both engines feature Chevy’s Active Fuel Management system, which cuts power from eight to four cylinders under light-load situations. This technology, along with a standard 6-speed automatic transmission, serves to improve the efficiency of Chevrolet’s heavy-hauling SUV.

5.3-liter V8 FlexFuel
320 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm (gasoline)
326 horsepower @ 5,300 (E85)
335 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm (gasoline)
348 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 (E85)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 (gasoline), 11/16 (E85)

6.0-liter V8
352 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm
382 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 10/16 (2WD), 10/15 (4WD)

Pricing Notes

The 2012 Chevrolet Suburban’s Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts in the low $40,000-range for a rear-wheel-drive LS and you can stretch to almost $60,000 for the luxurious LTZ. Data indicate Suburbans are typically selling for about $1,500 below MSRP but, before starting negotiations with your dealer, we suggest checking the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what consumers are currently paying in your area. From a resale perspective, the 2012 Suburban is expected to match the performance of the Ford Expedition EL and GMC Yukon XL, but trail behind the Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia.