2009 Chevrolet Suburban Review

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Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
March 13, 2009

The workhorse 2009 Chevrolet Suburban is far from glamorous, but it gets the job done, in comfort.

TheCarConnection.com’s editors have brought their own driving experience with the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban to this review; in addition to their definitive Bottom Line, TheCarConnection.com has gathered input from reviewers across the Web so that you can make the smartest possible buying decision.

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.

Review continues below

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.

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2009 Chevrolet Suburban

Styling

The 2009 Chevrolet Suburban is huge but tastefully styled, and its well-designed interior is a big plus.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com are pleased to note that the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban is nicely designed and proportioned—which is more than one might expect from this behemoth.

The Chevy Suburban has three trim levels, says Edmunds: "base LS, more luxurious LT and the sporty LTZ." Additionally, it is offered in two models: the half-ton Suburban 1500 and three-quarter-ton Suburban 2500. According to most reviewers, other than the latter's slightly larger dimensions, it's difficult to tell them apart.

The 2009 Chevrolet Suburban is huge. The Suburban has always been large as such utility vehicles go, but this one, at 18.5 feet, is a behemoth. As Kelley Blue Book puts it, no matter what the trim, with it body-on-frame construction the 2009 Chevy Suburban is "clearly a truck—though fancier in appearance than many cargo haulers."

The good news is that reviewers like the styling overall. Kelley Blue Book mentions "tighter body-gap tolerances" and credits those and "a more sleekly-angled windshield" for the Suburban's "improved aerodynamics...while a bulging power-dome hood adds to visceral appeal." According to Car and Driver, in 2007 the Suburban "underwent a major redesign...and emerged as a more modern, refined, handsome, and user-friendly truck." Kelley Blue Book also mentions the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban's "prominent fenders" and says that "the lower fascia displays a skid-plate look to enhance the rugged aura." Changes to the Suburban, Cars.com notes, include single-frame headlamps in place of the old stacked ones, and "wraparound lower pieces with integrated fog lights [to] minimize body gaps."

Chevrolet actually offers two different interiors: one more basic and one that's very upscale, with wood grain trim and a big center console. Kelley Blue Book praises this year's Suburban: 2009's models have "greater overall refinement—including enclosing the 'close-outs' around seat bottoms for a cleaner appearance." The overall effect is quite sophisticated for a truck of its size and duty. Car and Driver also reports a "handsome design inside"; Cars.com remarks that "the new look it got in GM's impressive 2007 redesign still holds up." ForbesAutos describes the two-tone interior as "nicely sculpted."

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2009 Chevrolet Suburban

Performance

The 2009 Chevrolet Suburban drives well overall for such a large, capable vehicle, and towing capability can't be beat.

Experts at TheCarConnection.com love the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban for towing and transporting heavy loads. Happily, road performance isn't bad and fuel economy could actually be worse.

Cars.com reports a "320-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8 engine" for the 2009 Chevy Suburban 1500; ConsumerGuide also notes that "a 366-hp 6.0-liter V-8" is an option for the smaller 2009 Chevrolet Suburban 1500. Kelley Blue Book says acceleration "is vigorous from a standstill, if less so to pass or merge." Edmunds reports that "for such a big truck, the Chevrolet Suburban is relatively quick when unloaded and can reach 60 mph in under 9 seconds"—though the review does not specify which model or engine achieved this.

For 2009, every Chevrolet Suburban gets a standard six-speed automatic transmission. Kelley Blue Book notes "with four-wheel drive and the 6.0-liter V8, the automatic transmission sometimes seems to shift a little abruptly." However, in describing a towing test, Motor Trend says, "once up to speed, the six-speed does a good job of choosing the right gear."

GM offers its Active Fuel Management technology on both engines. This shuts down half of the cylinders under "low stress driving situations" such as cruising empty on level freeways, allowing it to operate on four cylinders. Even with this technology, however, fuel economy is not a strong point of the Suburban. And while nobody buys a vehicle like the Suburban for its great mileage (even some of the recent "hybrid" SUVs are not stellar in this regard), buyers should take this into serious consideration. Chevrolet's big SUV achieves 14/20 mpg fuel economy, as reported by Kelley Blue Book for the 1500.

The 2009 Suburban handles well—even when towing heavy loads. Motor Trend reports that the Chevrolet Suburban 2500 they tested remained comfortable and stable when towing a 3.5-ton (7,200 pounds) powerboat, saying that "the 2500 was quite comfortable dragging this load...No endless bobbing and bounding, no loss of steering feel, no tail wagging, just point it and go." However, they observe the heavy-duty vehicle's gear-and-pinion steering "gives up some precision and lock to the 1500's rack-and-pinion." Cars.com pegs the towing capacity of the 1500 model at 8,100 pounds, while Kelley Blue Book rates the 2500 with two-wheel drive at a whopping 9,700 pounds—nearly five tons.

Edmunds compliments the drive quality of the vehicle, praising the 2009 Chevy Suburban's "new suspension system" with its "coil-over shocks up front and a five-link setup out back, plus more precise rack-and-pinion steering." They go on to say that although it's "not exactly nimble around corners," it has "more composed handling and a smoother ride than before," with the ride "always comfortably controlled." Cars.com contends that "while it's no sports car, the Suburban didn't feel as unwieldy as other large vehicles, and its highway ride was much more comfortable than the [Ford] Expedition's." ForbesAutos notes that the Autoride suspension available with Chevrolet's top-of-the-line LTZ Suburban makes "nearly instantaneous adjustments in stiffness according to changing road and driving conditions to help maintain a smooth and controlled ride at all times."

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2009 Chevrolet Suburban

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Chevrolet Suburban is a huge, comfortable vehicle; it even has top-notch materials quality.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com advise drivers not to fret about space and comfort in the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban; there's plenty of both to go around.

Edmunds assures potential buyers that there is "spacious seating" for as many as nine passengers and their cargo. In the backseat (where most of those nine passengers will ride), ConsumerGuide reports "generous headroom and legroom," but cautions that the Chevrolet Suburban 2009 "bench seat's cramped center position should be reserved for emergency situations only." ConsumerGuide also warns that the Chevy Suburban's third–row seating is "best left to children." In the front, Cars.com confirms that the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban's "front passengers will enjoy comfortable, wide seats and a straightforward instrument panel" that is much easier for the driver to operate and navigate.

A closer look at the Suburban hints that it’s really cargo, not people, that the Suburban is best at carrying. ConsumerGuide adds that the 2009 Chevy Suburban's "cabin storage is enhanced by large center console bin," and there are "roomy door pockets in front, but none in rear." In the back, drivers can haul plenty of items. "Cargo volume is where the Suburban really excels," says Cars.com, reporting a massive 45.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. That increases to a whopping 137.4 cubic feet when the third-row seats are removed. They also fold down, but ConsumerGuide warns that the "seatbacks rest well above the level of the floor, complicating loading of larger items."

ConsumerGuide reports that "assembly quality ... shows strong attention to detail" and that "most interior materials feel high-grade, though soft-touch surfaces are scarce." ForbesAutos observes a higher grade of interior materials in the Suburban; Chevrolet has built an interior "crafted from higher-quality materials than before."

Noise may be an issue for some in the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban. Kelley Blue Book cites "noticeable engine noise" under hard acceleration, but Edmunds says "the cabin is quiet at speed." ConsumerGuide also reports "moderate highway-speed wind rush" aboard the 2009 Chevy Suburban, so it's not the quietest ride on the road.

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2009 Chevrolet Suburban

Safety

The 2009 Chevrolet offers all the security its hulking size and weight hint at, with the exception of rollover concerns.

TheCarConnection.com is pleased to note that the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban gets good marks for safety overall.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not yet rated this vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), however, gives the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban five stars for front impact and side impact protection. For rollover resistance, the Suburban earns three stars.

ConsumerGuide states that front side airbags are available on the 2009 Chevy Suburban, as well as anti-lock brakes and an anti-skid system. Curiously, Cars.com reports standard stability and traction control on all 2009 Chevy Suburban sport-utes, as well as side-curtain airbags. However, this source says there are no side impact airbags, even as an option.

A useful option for 2009 is the Side Blind Zone Alert system, which is a big help when driving a vehicle as large as the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban. Additionally, ForbesAutos highlights the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban's stability control system, which comes standard on the vehicle. The system not only helps the driver in maintaining control of the Suburban, Chevrolet's "rollover mitigation technology...can deploy the vehicle's head-curtain airbags before a crash" if the sensor relays determine that a rollover is about to occur. This review also points out that some of the safety features are a consequence of the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban's overall design: a "wider track and a lowered center of gravity contribute to enhanced on-road stability."

ForbesAutos mentions that the 2009 Chevy Suburban's "instrument panel is positioned lower for easier visibility." Chevrolet's available "rearview camera aids aft visibility," ConsumerGuide says, but it also "distorts distances, compromising its usefulness." Car and Driver reports that tire pressure monitoring and seatbelt pretensioners are also standard with the Suburban.

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2009 Chevrolet Suburban

Features

The 2009 Chevrolet Suburban offers a good list of standard equipment—as well as some surprisingly luxurious options.

The 2009 Chevrolet Suburban comes standard with a pretty impressive list of features. If you're willing to shell out additional dough, TheCarConnection.com reports that some nifty options can be yours.

There are five 2009 Chevrolet Suburban trims from which to choose, reports Kelly Blue Book: the standard 1500 model comes in LS, LT, and LTZ, while the heavy-duty 2500 offers LS and LT only.

The 2009 Chevrolet Suburban offers plenty of standard features: an eight-speaker AM/FM/satellite radio stereo system with CD player auxiliary input and MP3 capability; a luggage rack; power locks, windows, and mirrors; a genuine wood-grain-trimmed interior; and trailer-towing preparation and OnStar emergency services. The 4WD version adds recovery hooks up front, according to Car and Driver. For 2009, a Bluetooth hands-free interface and XM NavTraffic are available.

A fully loaded rear-wheel-drive 3LT trim is not quite $5,000 more than the base model (about $7,500 more for the 4WD version). For this, one gets features such as rear-seat audio controls with headphone jacks, a floor console, turn-by-turn navigation services from OnStar, fog lights, and a nine-speaker Bose stereo system, among other extras. According to ConsumerGuide, a "carefully optioned LT is the best choice" among the various 2009 Chevy Suburban models.

Car and Driver reports that by the time one gets to the "top-of-the-line LTZ trim level" of the 2009 Chevy Suburban, a buyer can enjoy such extras as "a nav system, rear-seat DVD player, rear-view camera, and a power sunroof," as well as "a more aggressive 4.10 rear axle ratio" and a block heater. For 2009, expect a more complete standard list of features for the LTZ model.

Optional equipment is similar for the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 and 2500, though Car and Driver points out one notable exception: a "snow-plow prep package for 4WD 2500 models." A top-notch Luxury Package joins your list of options for 2009. One other useful feature is the power-extending running boards, as reported by Kelley Blue Book, for those who might otherwise have "trouble climbing aboard."

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October 16, 2015
2009 Chevrolet Suburban 4WD 4-Door 1500 LT w/2LT

Ammazing car to drive.

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Ok, so a little high on gas but when you have to take two cars it is actually much cheaper. Handles well and is really easy to park unlike some other large SUV's.
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