- Strong V-8 acceleration
- Controlled ride
- Towing capability
- Roomy seats in first and second rows
- Difficult to maneuver in town
- Third-row seats are tough to access
- Step-in height can be a challenge
The 2010 Chevrolet Suburban is a workhorse in the best sense; it's capable and handsome, too.
The 2010 Chevrolet Suburban is one of the largest sport-utility vehicles on the market-as large as its near-identical twin, the GMC Yukon XL, and related to the glitzier Cadillac Escalade ESV. Compared to the smaller Chevy Tahoe, the Suburban has 20 inches more overall length and a wheelbase 14 inches longer. Available with a single engine size and a single transmission for 2010, the Suburban 1500 has a base price of more than $40,000. It competes directly with the Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon XL, Nissan Armada, and Toyota Sequoia. (This review by TheCarConnection.com covers only the half-ton 1500 model; TCC does not review heavy-duty commercial trucks like the Suburban 2500.)
The long, tall, and wide Chevy Suburban is styled about as you'd expect. For a big box, it's tastefully rendered, with a nice balance between glass and sheetmetal, some subtle fender flares, and curves around the corners of its windows. The Chevy front-end treatment isn't quite as successful as that of the GMC Yukon XL, but it's clean and not as imposing as it could be. In all, the Suburban is far less clunky-looking than it was in its last generation-and it's among the best-looking full-sized utes, particularly when compared to the ungainly Toyota Sequoia and the exaggerated Nissan Armada. With slightly different interiors in five-passenger and six-passenger versions, the Suburban blends plastics and wood grain into a friendly, airy cabin with straightforward gauges and intuitive controls. The most expensive versions have a wood-grain-trimmed, chrome-detailed interior that could have been lifted from a premium sedan.
The Suburban engine lineup is simplified for the 2010 model year. All Suburban 1500s use a 320-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8 for motivation, and they team the power to standard rear-drive or optional four-wheel drive through a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine is flex-fuel capable and comes with cylinder deactivation, which turns off cylinders when full power isn't needed. The V-8 is powerful and smooth, and can deliver fuel economy as high as an estimated 14/20 mpg. The powertrain isn't really taxed by ordinary passenger duty, and it can tow up to 8,100 pounds. The obvious drawbacks to its size come with handling; the ride quality is very good, as the sheer mass blunts most potholes and road seams, but quick steering has hardly any feedback, and the Suburban simply isn't the kind of vehicle that's used for aggressive, corner-hugging driving. It maintains control over the road quite well for a vehicle of its size, however.
Inside, the Chevy Suburban is nearly the size of a Japanese hotel room, with 137.4 cubic feet of cargo room behind the first row of seats. Passengers in the first two rows of seats will be comfortable side by side and will enjoy plenty of leg- and headroom. The optional third-row seat isn't very easy to access or very comfortable. Flipping forward the second-row seat leaves only a narrow gap for passengers to hop in the way-back, and the seat itself doesn't fold flat like the third-row seats in the Ford Expedition, for example. It folds down and can be removed if necessary, but it's bulky and heavy, and the mounting tabs stick up from the floor and can scratch cargo. In all, the Suburban can seat up to nine people-but the back three probably should be limber and small.
The 2010 Chevrolet Suburban has good crash-test scores and the expected array of standard safety equipment. NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) rates the Suburban at five stars for front and side impacts, but only three stars for rollover protection. The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) hasn't tested the GM big utes yet. StabiliTrak stability control, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and curtain airbags for all rows are standard. A blind-spot warning system is an option, as are a rearview camera and parking sensors.
The 2010 Chevy Suburban can be decked out in LS, LT, and LTZ trims, with either rear- or four-wheel drive. Standard equipment includes an AM/FM/XM/CD player with an auxiliary and a USB port; air conditioning; power windows, locks, and mirrors; tilt steering; steering-wheel audio controls; and 17-inch wheels. Options and option packages include Bluetooth connectivity; a DVD navigation system that's very easy to use and has a clear, large LCD screen; a rear-seat DVD entertainment system; real-time traffic; a third-row LCD screen; a rear air conditioner; leather upholstery; power-adjustable pedals; remote start; ventilated seats; heated second-row seats; up to 22-inch wheels; a towing package; luggage racks; and an Autoride electronic suspension. It's easy to tailor a Suburban to truly suburban family-hauling duties or for weekend horse trailering-but it can get quite expensive, as the $40,000 Suburban could easily pass $55,000 with the most luxurious options.