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."