- Powerful V-8s
- Decent fuel economy
- Composed ride
- Serious towing ability
- Vast first- and second-row seats
- Extra length impedes maneuverability
- Difficult entry/exit for some
- Tight access to third row
The workhorse 2009 Chevrolet Suburban is far from glamorous, but it gets the job done, in comfort.
The 2009 Chevrolet Suburban is quite similar to the Chevy Tahoe, which is also based on the GMT900 truck platform. In truth, the Suburban is an extended-length version of the Tahoe, with similar styling all around but with an extra 20 inches of length and more than a foot of wheelbase—most of which goes to the third-row seats and the area behind them.
Inside, the Chevy Suburban is nearly the size of a mobile home, with 137.4 cubic feet of cargo room behind the first row of seats. Comfort in the first two rows of the 2009 Suburban is excellent, and a three-person front bench seat is available; however, the optional third row is not perfect in comfort or function. And unlike with some other SUVs, this seat is a pain to remove (it doesn't fold into the floor like on the Ford Expedition), and the remaining mounting tabs stick up from the floor and can scratch cargo.
The well-equipped 2009 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ especially features a beautiful interior that could have been lifted from a premium sedan. The quality of the materials is, overall, very good. The switchgear also works well and is easy to use. GM's corporate non-navigation sound system is among the most intuitive and simplest to use. Seating configurations differ by model and trim, but include variations that seat six, seven, eight, or nine.
But towing abilities, weight-carrying capacity, and sheer size are really what the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban is all about. Should you need to haul more gear, the 1500 models can tow a maximum of 8,100 pounds, while the 2500 models can tow up to 9,700 pounds.
For 2009, the Chevy Suburban has an all-V-8 engine lineup for the 1500 series, including a 320-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8, and a 366-hp, all-aluminum 6.0-liter with variable valve timing. All engines feature fuel-saving cylinder deactivation, and this feature is totally imperceptible as it turned off cylinders when full power wasn't necessary. Nearly all versions are offered with either rear- or four-wheel drive. Heavy-duty 2500-series models (covered by a separate TheCarConnection.com review) get a different 352-hp, 6.0-liter V-8. With either engine, fuel economy isn’t stellar, but it’s a manageable 14 mpg city, 20 highway with the 5.3-liter and rear-wheel drive.
For 2009, a six-speed automatic transmission is standard across the line. Every Suburban engine is powerful and smooth. The 6.0-liter engine is TheCarConnection.com’s favorite, if you can live with its significantly lower fuel economy ratings.
Safety is a major priority in the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban. StabiliTrak stability control, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and curtain airbags for all rows are standard. These features, combined with the Chevy's curb weight of nearly three tons, should make you feel very safe and secure. In addition, the Suburban garners top five-star ratings in frontal and side crash tests from the federal government. A Side Blind Zone Alert is also offered, which should help with the blind spots introduced by being so high above some traffic in adjacent lanes.
The 2009 Chevy Suburban is offered in two series: as a 1500 and a heavy-duty 2500. Each series can be decked out in LS, LT, and LTZ trims, with either rear- or four-wheel drive. Top LTZ models are loaded to the brim with luxuries and accessories, with items such as a Bose Centerpoint sound system, a remote start system, tri-zone automatic climate control, perforated leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, and a heated second row. In 2009, all models of the Chevrolet Suburban pick up a hands-free interface and XM NavTraffic capability.