Chevrolet launched the aboriginal Suburban during the aboriginal year of FDR’s aboriginal presidential term, in 1933. That makes the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban the longest-running nameplate in automotive history. I acerb suspect—despite what this or any analysis says—that 87 years from now Chevy will still be affairs these gargantuan bodies movers. The ‘Burban has been a accoutrement on American anchorage for a third as continued as the United States has been a country.
Why such longevity? Because Americans charge Suburbans. We’re big bodies with ample families, croaking friends, and an amaranthine accumulation of alfresco toys, active in an all-embracing acreage abounding with majestic redwood forests and all-embracing Gulf Stream waters. This SUV was fabricated for you and me.
When my European accompany visit, they attending at these extra-full-size Chevys and ask, “Anyone can aloof buy that? You don’t charge a appropriate permit?” But American SUV aficionados ask, “Do you anticipate Chevy will anytime accomplish a 2500 version, with the big Duramax?”
I was aloft to adulation Suburbans. We were a GM base wagon family. But afterwards the aboriginal time my dad rode in a Suburban, for the abutting seven years he proceeded to acquaint anyone who’d accept that Chevy’s bigger artefact was the best adequate affair he’d anytime sat in.
I already spent a anniversary active a 1989 Suburban in abounding Duck Dynasty accouter about South Carolina. I came abroad cerebration it was GM’s high-water mark. For decades, no added agent could bench as many, backpack as much, or go so abounding places. The barrage of any new Suburban is a big deal, but abnormally so now that the Ford Expedition is a bigger SUV than the copy Chevrolet aloof retired. So, how does the huge Ford assemblage up adjoin the new mega Chevy?
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What’s New for the 2021 Suburban?
My aide Alisa Priddle wrote a abundant abysmal dive of the Suburban if you appetite every distinct abstruse detail. Aloof apperceive it’s a stem-to-stern redesign and re-engineering. For the purposes of this review, apperceive that the 2021 Chevy Suburban appearance a new chassis, absolute rear suspension, a 4.1-inch-longer wheelbase, an accessible (and excellent) 277-hp, 460-lb-ft 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine, and a smaller, 5.3-liter 335-hp, 383-lb-ft V-8 that can (finally) be had with a 10-speed automatic.
Most important, with both rows of rear seats folded, you’re talking about added than 144 cubic anxiety of burden space. Which, to put it in accurate terms, is a lot (there are added activated descriptives, but this is a ancestors show). Sadly, alone the top-range High Country can be had with the big 420-hp, 460-lb-ft 6.2-liter V-8. Not that you absolutely charge it.
The Suburban pictured actuality starts at $63,195. We activated ours with the Z71 trim affiliated ($78,925), the best off-road focused of the six trim packages.
With acceptable car launches on hiatus, Chevy delivered a sanitized (and tough-looking) Shadow Gray Metallic over Jet Black archetypal to my house. Since I’d be active the Suburban on my home turf, I absitively to do what best Suburban owners do: blitz off to Starbucks for coffee and a sandwich.
The abutting Starbucks drive-through has a awfully bound left-hander that challenges abundantly sized cars and SUVs. I capital to see if about 19 anxiety (225.7 inches) of American beef would fit. Could I accept anchored and ordered inside? Of course. But as the Dead Kennedys put it, accord me accessibility or accord me death.
As I inched into the turn, I began analytic for a surround-view camera button. A quick browse at the body breadth afore I set off appear my ‘Burban came able with HD Surround Vision, allotment of the $2,820 Affluence Package. Alone affair is, I couldn’t bulk out how to actuate those high-def cameras while affective forward. Popping it into about-face would accept at atomic activated the advancement camera, but I bare to go forward.
For context, the agent I’m stewarding for the abutting year is our abiding Mercedes-Benz GLE 450. As such, I’m acutely accustomed with the camera button anon to the larboard of the touchpad. One bang brings up the parking sensors and a touchscreen abounding of camera angles. I use it constantly. With the Suburban, though, I was afflicted to apprentice that the figure to actuate the cameras is active three screens abysmal in the aeronautics menu. This, you will anon see, is not the alone time Chevrolet will adumbrate its best stuff.
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Back to the 2-mph action: I fabricated the about-face afterwards the aid of cameras, but it could accept been beneath of an ordeal. One could say, “Hey, captious auto biographer guy, already you apprentice breadth the camera figure is, you won’t forget. It’s no big deal.” True, but for the aboriginal three months of active with the Suburban, you’ll acceptable balloon the aisle to actuate those cameras. And that will get old, fast.
After avaricious my food, I anchored the big boy (and again re-parked it because I’d absolutely absent the lines) and ate while sitting in both the average row and the third row. Funny affair about the aftermost brace of ancestors of Suburbans: Unlike a genie’s lamp, they were huge on the alfresco and absolutely awkward for anybody sitting abaft the advanced row. Not anymore. I’m 5-foot-11 and a adumbration beneath a big-boned 250 pounds, and I had bags of room—even in the third row, with the average captain’s armchair slid all the way back. That’s a big improvement.
Cargo room? Buttons in the third row cast the average seats down, and addition columnist tumbles them forward. The rear seats can be bankrupt bottomward via two buttons amid in the burden area, or from the advanced seat. The bulk of being you can booty aback this Suburban is configured as a four-seater is impressive. With the third-row seats absolutely up, there looks to be added allowance in the burden breadth than in the two-row Mercedes GLE.
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What’s the Autogenous Like?
For the accomplished two Barter of the Year competitions, GM articles accept been mostly alone for their no-frills, no-love, and worse-than-the-competition interiors. I know: Real men don’t affliction about nice interiors! Barbed wire seats for all! But architecture is one of the belief we use to appraise Of The Year contenders, and while autograph this commodity addition texted me saying, “Buying a 2020 Ram 1500 Laramie. Couldn’t acquisition a bigger affluence truck.”
To date, the GMT1XX belvedere has graced us with interiors that can attentive be declared as suboptimal. Sad, but true. The Suburban is a footfall up from the Silverado pickup, but it’s not as acceptable as they should be for a agent of this price. Scanning the columnist materials, Chevy claims the new Tahoes (the beneath adaptation of the Suburban) and Suburbans are $3,000 to $4,000 cheaper than the antagonism (meaning, Ford). Hey Chevy, absorb the added money: The Expedition’s autogenous is college quality, both in agreement of looks and actual quality. Also, the Silverado’s driver’s bench could accept been abundant added comfortable.
The Suburban’s basal mechanicals, conversely, are excellent. From the aboriginal moment I addled the accelerator, I affected that the agent was the honkin’ 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8. The agent acquainted that strong. It was alone during a babble with the affable Chevy PR guy that I was abreast I was active a bald 5.3-liter V-8.
Part of the powertrain’s backbone comes from the capital 10-speed automated transmission, the mechanicals of which were co-developed with Ford. However, anniversary corresponding automaker does its own programming, and like I abstruse on the Camaro ZL1 launch, the abracadabra is in the tuning. This manual is programmed bigger than any automated I’ve driven, save for Porsche’s PDK. A adventurous statement, but it’s true. The Suburban is commonly in the actual gear. Color me cool impressed; this is a aces powertrain. I can’t delay to drive a High Country.
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As we saw with the hide-and-seek actuation of the surround-view cameras, General Motors has a terrible, adverse addiction of architecture world-class technology again ambuscade it.
I was geeked to drive the new Suburban because of the nameplate’s aboriginal use of an absolute rear suspension. What’s more, my accurate archetypal sported both air springs and GM’s admirable MagneRide damping technology. I had a anticipation this adeptness about-face out to be the best-riding gigantic SUV of all time.
But I was abashed to find, aback dabbling about burghal streets and again zooming forth on smooth-enough Southern California freeways, the Suburban’s ride accepted to be affiliated to a marshmallow—wallowing and chapped and not what I was acquisitive for, nor what all that adorned abeyance tech should deliver.
Luckily for me, I had been analytic for the about-face to accession and lower the ride height, one of the allowances of air springs. That accurate ascendancy is a button, amidst by an bare rubber-coated dial. If you aberration that abstruseness bite afterwards blame said button, you can toggle amid Normal, Sport, Off-Road, and Towing modes. A adolescent journalist, accepting spent seven hours in his Suburban, exclaimed, “There’s a Sport mode?” By contrast, in a Ford Expedition, aback you abode your appropriate bend on the centermost armrest, your duke comes to blow on a behemothic bite that reads “Drive Mode” in stop-the-presses-sized type. I faculty a active change has already been ordered from the Suburban’s dials-and-switches suppliers.
But aback to the drive. Accepting assuredly begin Sport mode, I can acquaint you it is awesome. Exactly the accomplished ride affection I’d been acquisitive for. I assumption Normal approach is for drivers who appetite their Suburban to ride like a 1972 Monte Carlo. However, apple chic damping is but a aberration abroad via an bare bite that 99 percent of owners will never find.
Oddly, this is what GM has been accomplishing with its accomplished Performance Absorption Management (PTM) arrangement for years. PTM is as acceptable as multi-stepped high-performance active modes begin on Ferraris and AMGs. On both of the latter, the adeptness to about-face amid assorted high-performance modes is the focus of the berth (Ferrari’s Manettino is inches from your appropriate duke at all times, and the Mercedes-AMG GT R’s chicken absorption ascendancy bite can be apparent at 50 yards’ distance). You appetite to acquisition it on a Camaro or a high-performance Cadillac? First, accomplish abiding you are in Track mode, again double-click the absorption ascendancy button aloof so (which works about 60 percent of the time). Then, addition card controlled by addition figure ancestor up. Again—why coffin this stuff? You should bite bodies in the adenoids with your best tech.
Speaking of best tech, a three-ton behemoth like the 2021 Suburban could absolutely account from a technology like GM’s Cool Cruise. It’s a semi-autonomous active abetment arrangement that’s as acceptable as annihilation Tesla or Mercedes currently offers. Ask a GM agent about why the Suburban doesn’t accept Cool Cruise (it could, because the 2021 Cadillac Escalade rides on the identical platform), and you’ll apprehend article about how that’s a Cadillac-only technology. Nuts to that. If PTM can be aggregate amid brands (trust me, no Cadillac CT5-V buyer is agitated that the new C8 Corvette has it), again so can Cool Cruise. Call it Chevy Cruise (or Cruze). Job done. Article that costs about $80K should arete accepting this tech.
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2021 Suburban: How Does It Drive?
Once in Sport approach I begin myself rather shocked. How could article so ample and so abundant ride so well, yet still action a camp amount of sportiness? Afterwards an hour of freeway and 30 account of clay trails, what bigger way to absolutely analysis a car than on Angeles Crest Highway?
Dumbfoundingly, my Suburban “ZR1” ripped up the mountain, alike on off-road-biased Goodyear Wrangler tires. Our photographer, who was abaft me in a 1,000-pound-lighter Dodge Durango, was gone from my mirrors afterwards three corners. Aloof couldn’t accumulate up.
Was there any charge at all to drive a three-row ancestors hauler like that? Probably not. But it’s become a reflex at this point to advance cars adamantine on the Crest. I was so afraid and amorous with how able-bodied the ample Chevy handled one of the world’s abundant roads, I kept my basal in it. I alike got a accede from a guy on a motorcycle at the bottom. He couldn’t get abreast me. Again, a motorcycle block a Suburban, and the guy on two auto lost. I’m still smiling. About forgot: Off-road this big able-bodied is appealing fun to get up on three wheels.
When I collection the then-brand-new 2019 Ford Expedition two years ago, I had no agitation adage that it had surpassed both the actual Chevy Tahoe and the Suburban. I’m not so abiding I feel that way about the new Suburban vis-à-vis its Blue Oval competitor. That allegory analysis will be close, with the Chevy’s accomplished powertrain and adult abeyance duking it out with the Ford’s richer, better-quality cabin.
In a apple of car-based crossovers, this truck-based SUV is appealing abundant OK. I anticipate its exoteric is abundant attractive (though lose the anchored active boards, please). It’s agreeably gigantic. The chassis, powertrain, and abeyance are apple class, and I absolutely enjoyed active it. However, it’s ergonomically confused, and the affection of the autogenous isn’t alarming in the least. The 2021 Chevrolet Suburban has appear a continued way. It aloof needs a few added afar to get to breadth it needs to be.