The Car Connection Chevrolet Suburban Overview
The Chevrolet Suburban is a full-size SUV that can seat up to nine, stow their gear, and still tow heavy loads with ease. It's the automaker's largest vehicle and shares its running gear with the Chevy Tahoe, the GMC Yukon, and the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.
The Suburban even offers most of the creature comforts afforded by the pricier GMC Yukon XL and Cadillac Escalade ESV.
With the Suburban, Chevy tackles vehicles such as the Nissan Armada, Ford Expedition, and Toyota Sequoia. It's also a good alternative to full-size vans.
MORE: Read our 2021 Chevy Suburban review
The Suburban was redesigned for 2021 and added a new turbodiesel engine option, along with updated technology, styling, and even more passenger/cargo room.
The new Chevy Suburban
In addition to being the largest SUV on the market, the Chevy Suburban is also the oldest nameplate among them; the Suburban has been sold in one form or another since the early 1930s.
Chevy's Suburban continues to be a true workhorse. It has a spacious interior, big trailering capacities, three engine options, and roomier second and third rows, as well as a larger cargo area.
The Suburban is the longer version of GM's big SUVs, akin to the GMC Yukon XL, some 20 inches longer than a Tahoe. It can seat up to nine passengers. The 2021 Suburban gains 1.3 inches in overall length, to 225.7 inches, and the wheelbase grows 4.1 inches to 134.1 inches. That translates to more than two inches of extra leg room in the second and third rows, and boosts cargo capacity 23 cubic feet to 144.7 cubic feet with the second and third row folded flat.
Like previous Suburbans, the latest model is spun off the architecture of GM's full-size pickups. Styling draws heavily from the pickup truck as well giving the Suburban a massive maw. The grille pinches toward the middle with daytime running lights, but it’s just as upright as before.
A new interior surpasses the trucks and comes with a 10.2-inch touchscreen standard, along with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Wireless phone charging is also standard on all trims except the base model and all three rows have their own USB charge ports to keep all of the family's devices topped off. Automatic emergency braking is now standard as well, and other advanced safety technology like adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and a surround-view camera are available.
The powertrain features a 10-speed automatic coupled to one of three engines: a 355-hp 5.3-liter V-8, 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8, or a 277-hp 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-6 that gets an EPA-rated 23 mpg combined. The V-8s max out at 18 mpg combined with standard rear-wheel drive, though four-wheel drive remains an option. Towing capacity maxes out at 8,300 pounds with the 5.3-liter and rear-wheel drive.
The Suburban rides atop a four-wheel independent suspension for the first time for 2021, which helps the Chevy glide more smoothly over the pavement. An optional adaptive air suspension coddles passengers further with a load-leveling rear end for frequent towers.
The Suburban is an American icon, and a bit of an automotive legend. Beginning in 1933, with only a few years skipped during World War II, the Chevy Suburban has been in production longer than any SUV on the market. It hasn't always been offered with four-wheel drive, but it's always married a wagon body with a truck chassis to meet the needs of big families and small businesses alike. Other car companies, like Chrysler, used to sell vehicles dubbed "Suburban," all with the same theme in mind; GM even sold the Suburban under its GMC and Holden brands over the years, before consolidating the name under Chevrolet in the current generation (GMC's was rebadged the Yukon XL). Only Chevrolet's version has endured.
The first Chevy Suburbans featured wood-paneled bodies, with full metal shells coming on line for 1935. The look of these early models was used as inspiration for the compact Chevy HHR, which was introduced for the 2006 model year. The Suburban took a hiatus from 1943 to 1945 while GM concentrated its manufacturing capacity on the war effort. Beginning in 1948, the Suburban offered seating for eight in a package that's similar to today's, with V-6 and V-8 engines available. Four-wheel drive became an option for 1957, with a split happening in the 1960s that differentiated rear-drive "C" models from four-wheel-drive "K" models. Chevrolet built windowless, commercial-focused Suburbans through the early 1970s.
The 1973-1999 Chevrolet Suburban was one of the longest-lived models in all of automotive history. During that era, Chevy won the right to trademark the Suburban name (in 1988) and continued to update the SUV gradually until a new version was ready. All were four-door wagons, though GM did add a heavy-duty version during this time. Diesel engines, four-wheel drive with automatic locking hubs, anti-lock brakes, fuel injection, and a nine-passenger version were the major milestones of this long era, with a newly styled version marking the modern era for the Suburban in 1994.
The Suburban hit its stride in the 2000-2006 model years, as Americans turned to big SUVs in the era of cheap gasoline. With a choice of V-8 engines, an automatic transmission, a more rigid body and more safety equipment, the Suburban spanned a wide spectrum of duties and owners. Sales boomed; light-duty versions were loaded with rear-seat entertainment and climate-control systems and leather interiors. Heavy-duty versions counted fewer seats but gained impressive towing capacity. GM moved forward a revamped Suburban after the 2006 model year, banking on a big hit—but it arrived just as sales of all big trucks began to plummet.
Few changes were made to the last generation of Suburbans, sold from 2007 to 2014. The model had updated styling, as well as some nifty tech updates for towing that you couldn't: Trailer Sway Control, new for 2012, and Powertrain Grade Braking, added for 2013, both do a lot to keep a trailer-towing vehicle safely under control.
Redesigned for 2015, new features added through the 2016 model year include a color touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay functionality. Changes for 2017 were minor—mostly trim and features repackaging—save for the addition of automatic emergency braking, a teen-driver alert system, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. The 2018 lineup added an RST package available on LT and Premier trim levels that's more about looking sporty than going any faster. A 6.2-liter V-8 with 10-speed automatic transmission option for 2019 further blurred the line between Suburbans and Escalades.