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- Unabashedly an SUV
- Much-improved cabin
- Excellent new V-8 drivetrain
- More safety and better infotainment features
- Very angular styling
- One powertrain fits all
- One of the biggest vehicles you can buy
The 2017 Chevy Suburban is the ne plus ultra of SUVs; it'll tow up to 8,300 pounds and carry up to nine passengers without a fuss.
The Chevrolet Suburban can claim it started the whole SUV movement. The nameplate arrived in the 1930s, making the biggest Chevy utility vehicle one of the oldest vehicles on the market from any brand.
The current Suburban is completely up to date, though. Revamped for the 2015 model year, it's sold in LS, LT, and Premier trims. In all of them, it's a towing and hauling champion, with extreme interior space to boot—and a big dose of connectivity for long road trips and on-site job needs.
We rate it at 6.2 out of 10, with a nod toward its exceptional trailering talent and for its vast interior room. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Chevy Suburban styling and performance
The Suburban no longer shares sheet metal with the Silverado pickup trucks, but they're still close kin, with ladder frames, 4-wheel drive, and big V-8 power. It's a direct relative to GMC's Yukons, and to the Chevy Tahoe. (Read a more detailed review over at our 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe page.)
All sport angular sheet metal, pressed and creased with steam-iron precision. Inside they're a bit more suave, with soft-touch trim, big touchscreen interfaces, and wide center consoles (on most versions). In Premier trim, they're luxury vehicles without the luxury badges.
Under the hood, the Suburban gets the same 5.3-liter V-8 found in the Silverado. It sends its 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque through a 6-speed automatic to either the rear wheels or all four wheels. The Suburban accelerates strongly, and has plenty of power for freeway mergers, long mountain climbs, and passing maneuvers. Gas mileage is acceptable given its ability, at up to 19 mpg combined.
Electric power steering helps improve gas-mileage. Though often criticized for a lack of feel, the electric power steering in the Suburban doesn’t need to deliver sports car feedback, and Chevy makes the most of the ability to deliver effortless steering forces at any speed.
Like the Silverado, the Suburban’s rear suspension uses a leaf-spring design, though the Premier model can be ordered with Magnetic Ride Control, a sophisticated setup that uses magnetically charged fluid to change suspension damping rates. When equipped with MRC, the suspension combines smooth and supple ride quality over broken pavement with improved body control through turns.
The base suspension is very capable as well, but physics dictate that this large, heavy vehicle leans in turns, lacks overall agility, and is cumbersome to maneuver in tight spaces.
The Suburban can tow up to 8,300 pounds.
Suburban comfort, safety, and features
The Suburban has a 130-inch wheelbase and is more than 220 inches long overall, while the Tahoe’s wheelbase is 116 inches long and its overall length is 204 inches.
Front-seat passengers in the Suburban have wide, well-padded seats and what seems like acres of shoulder and leg room—though head room can seem oddly confining for a vehicle this big. The second-row seat offers plenty of head and leg room, and buyers can outfit the cabin to seat seven, eight or nine passengers thanks to an available front bench and second-row captain’s chairs.
The third-row seat in this generation of Suburban is better than ever before. Increased room makes it more livable, but it’s still best suited for children or shorter adults, unless the trip is quite short. The third row seat now folds flat as well, and a power-folding version is available, but the folded seat raises the cargo floor, making it less useful than it could be.
The Suburban also has lots of useful space for small items storage, including lots of cupholders and a center console bin deep enough to hold tablet or small notebook computers.
Safety credentials include GM's class-exclusive front-center airbag, which is offered on models with front bucket seats. Adaptive cruise control is an option, as are a lane-departure warning system with seat-mounted haptic alerts, blind-spot monitors, forward collision alerts, and front parking sensors. A head-up display relays key information into the driver's line of sight. The seat-mounted haptic driver alert system does a good job of getting the driver’s attention, making it a boon to safety and driver awareness.
One side note, however, regarding traditional occupant safety: The federal government has separately tested a Suburban, and it didn't do quite as well as the Tahoe in frontal protection, or in the side pole test; both models add up to a four-star (out of five-star) overall rating, which cuts into its numeric rating here.
After a complete redesign in 2015, the Suburban gets only minor add-ons this year. They include teen-driving features like pre-set maximum speed limits; ventilated seats; a rear-seat entertainment system; and automatic emergency braking.
Other available features include a Blu-ray DVD entertainment system, an 8.0-inch LCD touchscreen radio; Chevy MyLink connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; a head-up display; keyless ignition; a power tailgate; a cargo-management system; up to six USB ports and six power outlets; and wheel sizes up to 22 inches.