Friday, January 16, 2015


The Chevrolet Suburban has been the quintessential American SUV since forever. It departs from its truckly origins a little more with each generation, but longtime fans of the franchise will be plenty happy with the new model.

Those fans haven't been waiting for this review, either. In spite of all the nonsense GM is wading through right now, earlier this month the company reported that Suburbans were spending an average of only ten days on dealer lots before being sold. And 65% of those were in range-topping (very-expensive) LTZ trim.

So when it came time to redesign its big SUVS, GM had to walk a fine line by not changing things up too much when it came to styling, but it still had to look fresh. To my eye, GM succeeded with the Suburban. It still looks like a Suburban, but there are subtle things in the design that instantly let you know that it’s a new one. 
The 2015 is my third-favorite Suburban design yet. Yeah, even with "the headlights" everyone on the internet seems to be so fussy about. They look like a slightly modern tweak on the outgoing design, what's your beef people?

Chevrolet kept it conservative with the rest of the exterior, but the skin's been pulled a little bit tighter and a few new creases accentuate the body's long slabs of steel. Improvements from every angle compared to the outgoing design.

In the back, the shape's gone from "bulbous" to "boxy," which helps depart the design a little further from the minivans its inevitably cross-shopped against.
The effort to ratchet things up in the interior is really clear, though. There were a lot of hard and hollow-feeling plastic pieces littered around the cabin in the outgoing trucks, but now there a lot of quality, soft-touch areas and wrapped surfaces with a design featuring curvy lines to jazz things up a bit. Build quality appears high with tight panel gaps, and insulation from wind and road noise is noteworthy. It’s quite a nice place to spend time in now and I would argue that the jump up into the more premium GMC Yukons isn’t really necessary. The high seating position is great and the front bucket seats are real comfortable.Some other reasons why I don’t think upgrading to a GMC is necessary? Our 2015 Chevy Suburban LTZ tester is packed full of niceties like magnetic ride suspension, high-intensity discharge lights, LED running lamps, front park assist, heated and cooled front seats, blind spot warning and rear traffic alert to go with this Suburban’s leather-lined interior.

One thing you can’t get in the Chevy that you can get in the GMCs is the 6.2-liter V8 option. Instead, the Suburban is only offered with the 5.3-liter that propelled this near-5,700-pound barge around just fine. It never seemed like it was running out of steam. Instead it got things moving smoothly along with slick and well timed shifts from the six-speed automatic transmission.

Thanks to the magnetic ride suspension, the Suburban feels about as well composed as a vehicle of its weight and ride height can. You’ll still feel some roll in corners, obviously, but the electric power steering feels responsive and lightly weighted to make maneuvering the Suburban around easy enough. The 20-inch tires surely help by providing a nice wide footprint, too. Brakes are very responsive with the big clamps getting this slowed in a brisk manner. For such a monstrous vehicle, the Suburban drives smaller than it is, all while providing high levels of ride comfort.

Then, of course, there’s the never-ending mission of improving fuel efficiency, and the Suburban does deliver in that area a smidge. Compared to the rear-wheel drive 2014 Suburban that had an EPA fuel economy rating of 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway, the 2015 version improves to 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.

If I was in the market for a mongo SUV, I probably wouldn’t look much further than the Suburban. I haven’t had a go with the new Ford Expedition yet and the Toyota Sequoia is getting up there in age. The only difference is that for Michigan winters I would plop down the extra $3,000 to get 4WD and forget the sunroof and 20-inch wheels that our test car has. 

2015 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ left rear 
The 5.3-liter under the hood of the 2015 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ is rather peppy.
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: I know, I know y’all are getting sick of me talking about how much I love Chevy Suburbans. Sorry. I can’t help it. I’ve loved them since I was a kid. The 2015 redo looks good to me, more creased, lower, more modern, bolder. Interior comfort and quality is way up. It’s really refined. The 5.3-liter V8’s horsepower and torque are up about 10 percent. Acceleration is borderline peppy if you leg it.

Like GM’s new pickups, the Suburban feels much better on the road ,slightly more wieldy around town with (again, slightly) quicker reactions. I realize I’m talking about a near-5,500- 5,800 heavy metal pound truck, so when I say words like wielder and quicker, I’m talking wieldy and quicker for something weighing this much.

That said, on the freeway it’s just amazing -- quiet (really quiet in fact) and smooth, stable, like the last one I drove. Gone are shimmies and shakes one can get from a truck-based boxed frame platform. In naming the pickups Best of the Best, we said there were luxury automakers that could take a lesson from the pickup’s refinement levels. That definitely applies here.

As I said the revamped interior is terrific. Needless to say there is tons of room and much better materials -- more soft-touch plastics and everything is screwed together well. It’s comfortable. There’s a lot of stuff to have fun with: heated wheel, A/C seats, power moonroof and MyLink… I spent several hours in the saddle this weekend and am ready for several more.

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