The 2016 Chevy Suburban Is Still King of the Giant SUVs
General Motors has learned not to mess with a good thing.
WHAT THE HELL IS IT? The epitome of the phrase “Size matters” and the father of the American SUV.
WHO IS IT FOR? Everyone. From the tactical law enforcement team to the soccer mom, the Chevy Suburban can suit their needs.
WHERE DID WE TEST IT? Litchfield County, Connecticut.
THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE IS: This car is so gigantic you can’t help but laugh when parking it in a sea of compact crossovers. Yet you totally don't mind the way it lumbers about the countryside.
THING THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO NOTICE, BUT YOU DO ANYWAY: Not much on the Suburban has changed in the last 10 years.
CAR IS GOOD AT: Hauling a small village, outlasting said village, and requiring almost no maintenance.
CAR IS BAD AT: Handling. Just...handling.
HAULING PEOPLE: 5/5
HAULING STUFF: 5/5
CURB APPEAL: 3/5
“WOW” FACTOR: 1/5
WOULD YOU BUY IT? Yes. I would buy the Chevy Suburban in a heartbeat, but let me be clear—I would buy ANY Chevy Suburban in a heartbeat. Although GM has done a great job with the 2016 Suburban, I would happily drive any model year of this beast.
It has proven itself time and again in the decades since the first Suburban left the lot in 1935. Between the hearty 5.3-liter V-8 and the cushy interior, I would gladly use this truck for the next 20 years. The sturdy engine was design to be torquey and durable; unlike its high-performance counterparts under the hood of GM muscle cars, functional 200,000-mile 5.3-liter V-8s can be seen gracing eBay on a regular basis. Plus, the older a Suburban gets, the more nods of approval you get from preppy country club fanboys when cruising the town.
Put it this way: If you offered me a top-trim Suburban LTZ or a Range Rover, I would seriously consider the Suburban. (Deal with it.) Although the Range Rover is littered with little luxuries like bespoke leather stitching, custom paint, ionized air purifiers and everything else under the sun, the Suburban has everything you need. Four-zone climate control, leather seats, Apple Car Play, and every safety warning you could want. The true difference between the two vehicles is about $40,000, and I simply can't justify spending the extra money when I know there is a higher probability the Suburban will have a longer life and cost less to repair.
The Chevy Suburban does a lot of things right, but also never attempts to leave its comfort zone. Serving as a fabulous family hauler, the Suburban can comfortably and safely seat eight occupants at a time. With all three rows in use, there is still 39 cubic-feet of cargo room, as well as 121.7 cu.-ft. when the second and third rows are folded down. Thanks to the 5.3-liter V-8 and the 383 pound-feet of torque that goes with it, the ‘burban can tow 8,300 pounds. Still, the massive truck is able to hit 22 miles per gallon on the highway thanks to cylinder deactivation.
The interior of the Suburban is everything you would expect out of a family-oriented American SUV. My LT trim tester had all the important modern luxuries: heated leather seats, navigation, backup camera, power-folding seats, Bluetooth, navigation...you get the point. However, there were no unnecessary frills like wood paneling, hand-stitched leather, or retractable running boards. It feels the LT was meant to do one thing: hit all the comfort benchmarks and nothing more.
As far as technology is concerned, the Suburban has come a long way over the past decade. Our LT came with forward collision alert, lane keep assist, Intellibeam headlamps, Safety Alert Seat (which vibrates the seat when you are at risk of a front impact) and heads-up-display alerts.
The one category the Suburban falls short in is performance. Granted, GM wasn’t looking to build a track rocket, but there are areas I really wished it had focused on a little more. The truck is plenty quick off the line (0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds), however it corners and brakes like a Chris-Craft. As the truck navigated the back roads of Litchfield County, there were numerous occasions where the truck found itself dipping below the speed limit in order to safely negotiate the road. In addition, the steering felt a little loose for my liking.
All those points aside, I'm more than willing to overlook its flaws for the beautiful, utilitarian design it has maintained since 1935.
Price (as tested): $57,730 ($67,740)
Powertrain: 5.3-liter V-8, 355 horsepower, 383 lb-ft of torque; six-speed automatic; four-wheel-drive
Fuel Economy: 15 city, 22 highway
0-60 mph: 7.1 seconds (Car and Driver test figure)
Spirit Animal: Clydesdale
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