2022 Chevy Suburban Review: A Simple Beast With a Simple Mission
Hauling people and their stuff in style, comfort, and safety—that’s what the Chevy Suburban’s been doing since 1935.
Big-bodied SUVs are a staple of U.S. roadways, none more so than the Chevrolet Suburban. Heck, it's even got its own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The big Chevy first rolled off the assembly line in 1935, and few things have changed since. Sure, they're packed with more technology nowadays and they're longer and taller than ever—and there's no hiding their monumental thirst for fuel and steep price tags—but the core ingredients remain the same. Big motor, cushy seats, a plush ride: These are the reasons why families and businesses coast to coast trust these four-wheeled behemoths to transport their precious cargo. The 2022 Chevrolet Suburban doesn't deviate from that proven formula; it simply revitalizes the SUV's looks and performance to match modern times.
The premise is simple, really. Haul lots of people and their stuff in style, comfort, and safety. For decades, this has resulted in big, boxy bodies with four doors, three rows of seats, and enormous liftgates. Inside, cupholders galore and power outlets for the entire family are the norms. If mom and dad are well-off, throw in the backseat entertainment package with touchscreens and a Wi-Fi hotspot. And while the current Suburban's exterior design may be a drastic departure from generations prior (where Chevy carried over decades-old design trends), the interior clings to a sense of utility, a sense of function over form that's hard to find in the age of glitzy and glamorous SUVs that focus more on the "S" and not enough on the "U."
After driving various versions of the mechanically identical Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon, it was the longest sibling's turn to be subdued into family duty for a week. Given how virtually flawless the Tahoe and Yukon were during my tests, I wasn't expecting any big surprises here. More like, how does a longer version of the same SUV perform around town?
2022 Chevrolet Suburban Premier 4WD Specs
- Base price (as tested) : $69,695 ($79,370)
- Powertrain: 6.2-liter V8 | 10-speed automatic | four-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 420 @ 5,600 rpm
- Torque: 460 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm
- Maximum off-road angles : 27.5° approach | 22° departure | 19° breakover
- Ground clearance: 8 to 10 inches
- Curb weight: 6,016 pounds
- Cargo volume: 93.8 cubic feet, 41.5 (with third row up)
- Towing capacity: 7,900 pounds
- Fuel economy: 14 mpg city | 19 highway | 16 combined
- Quick take: It's a big American SUV that aims to please.
- Score: 9/10
The Chevy Suburban got in on the ground floor of the country's ongoing love affair with oversized vehicles. It was the mid-1930s, the country was emerging from the death grip of the Great Recession, and things were looking up for the average American. The Suburban could fit roughly nine passengers across its three bench seats back then, and it quickly became synonymous with the great family road trip, providing folks with enough reliability, space, and comfort to travel long distances. Little has changed in 87 years; as you can still fit nine people across three bench seats.
The big 'Burban shares Chevy's current design language with the Silverado pickup truck and Tahoe SUV, which debuted for the 2021 year model. It's got a big face with a whole lot of grille and a whole lot of chrome. In this specific test vehicle's spec, the Premier trim adds lots of classy touches that cover up most bits of plastic with body-matched paint or chrome, though it proudly wears the Chevy bowtie in the traditional bronze. Out back, oversized taillights encase the enormous liftgate, which benefits from svelte and clever design cues to break up the monotony of such a large body panel. Down below, 20-inch wheels and four exhaust pipes give the Suburban a touch of sportiness and pizzazz.
While buyers can opt for a three-bench-seat configuration up front (instead of a middle console) to maximize the Suburban's seating capacity, that feature is only available in the LS trim. In Premier, a 2+2+3 seating arrangement allows for seven passengers instead of eight or nine. Regardless of the arrangement you choose, the interior design will be identical. A 10.2-inch touchscreen that controls most of the SUV's tech functions dominates the center console, as well as a button-style shifter and lots of physical knobs and buttons to operate the most commonly used features such as HVAC, volume, tuner, seat heating/cooling, etc. And how could I forget? There are 12 cupholders and the same number of power outlets, ranging from wireless, 12V, USB, and USB-C.
The Suburban, like the Tahoe, can be had with one of three engines. The darling of the bunch and my personal favorite—due to its smoothness and responsiveness—is the 3.0-liter Duramax diesel, but it's the 5.3-liter V8 that you'll most commonly find under the hood of these things. Some will pay $2,495 to upgrade to the big-boy 6.2-liter V8, and I can't blame anyone for doing so. Paired with an excellent 10-speed automatic transmission co-developed with Ford regardless of the engine choice, the Suburban has power and torque for days: 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet, to be precise. The engine is responsive but not peaky, and it feels like a natural fit for such a large vehicle—especially compared to the 5.3, which I found slightly underpowered in the Tahoe Z71.
Driving the Chevrolet Suburban
It's a wafty experience. The Suburban is all about ride quality. It's paramount. Equipped with MagneRide, the tester glided over rough city streets riddled with post-winter potholes, providing that ride quality it's known for. It's not springy bouncy, but it's certainly soft and cushioned, with just the right amount of body roll when cornering. It's how a large SUV should ride, considering a vehicle of this type is all about providing the passengers—not exactly the driver—with the utmost comfort. After all, you don't want to make the kids (or paying customers) in the back throw up all over those comfy leather seats.
Steering feel is certainly on the soft side, which is a plus in a ride this large. Any stronger resistance and driving for longer than 30 minutes would feel like a workout. The pedals, too, are nice and soft, providing the driver with enough feedback to know what's going on with the throttle and brake but without being so sensitive that it makes for a jittery or jerky ride. The brake, especially, is perfectly calibrated, allowing the driver to slow down the 6,000-pound monster in the smoothest way.
Then there's the 6.2, which, when asked, can deliver all 420 ponies with a mighty sense of urgency, triggering a rather pleasant sound from the Chevy V8. While not as torquey and smooth as the diesel, it's certainly loud and powerful, and it just loves showing off its bruteness by effortlessly propelling the Suburban. This Chevy engine is undoubtedly one of America's greatest hits.
As far as the extra length (15 inches more than the Tahoe) goes, the Suburban feels roughly the same on the road. It's not until you try to parallel park or quickly whip in or out of a garage or parking spot that you'll feel that extra length. There's no real cause for concern unless you deal with multi-story parking garages or tight surroundings daily. On the other hand, those are 15 inches of precious extra cargo space to enjoy when the third row is deployed.
The Highs and the Lows
The Suburban's best attribute is its cohesiveness. The engine works in perfect harmony with the transmission, and the drivetrain is perfectly matched to the suspension and chassis. It's an SUV that feels whole rather than segmented, and it offers a great driving experience as a result of this.
The second-row captain's chairs in the Tahoe, Yukon, and now the Suburban aren't exactly the easiest to operate. Considering these seats are most often used by children, whether it is to recline or move them out of the way in order to gain access to the third row, they still require a fair bit of strength to release or latch, a strength that most kids younger than 10 don't possess. Furthermore, only the third row has a power-folding option. Offering a powered solution to get the captain's chairs out of the way would be fantastic.
Chevrolet Suburban Features, Options, and Competition
In Premier guise, the Suburban sits only one level down from the very top (High Country), so nearly everything in the tester was an option, including the 6.2-liter V8. Compared to the base model with cloth seats, the Premier offers leather seats, captain's chairs in the second row instead of a bench seat, a power-folding third row, as well as heated and ventilated front seats. The captain's chairs are heated but not ventilated. The $4,485 Premium Package adds a panoramic sunroof, HD surround cameras, color head-up display, max trailering package (includes the upgraded radiator, trailer blindspot alert, brake controller, hitch), and other safety features such as pedestrian alert, camera mirror, rear camera washer, and enhanced emergency braking that works while towing a trailer. Lastly, the rear entertainment screens (which I had previously called useless) still cost $1,995 but now offer Hulu streaming capabilities, making them more useful to modern-day kids.
The Suburban is and isn't in a league of its own. There's the Ford Expedition Max, the new Jeep Wagoneer, and of course, the twins, the Yukon XL and Cadillac Escalade ESV. The Expedition frankly doesn't rank due to the absence of a V8, which is what you really want in a vehicle of this size and might. The new Grand (and regular) Wagoneer start at $90,000 and $60,000 respectively, while offering a V8 and body-on-frame configuration and seating for up to eight, making them the Suburban's closest rivals. As far as the Yukon XL and Escalade, well, it's the same fantastic recipe with slightly more grated cheese on top.
The Suburban, like the Tahoe and Yukon, laughs in the face of fuel efficiency. It simply doesn't care, and neither do its owners. There are many good things for which this SUV is known, but economy isn't one of them.
Value and Verdict
At nearly $80,000, the test Suburban isn't exactly cheap, but then again, you do get a whole lot of vehicle for that money. Moving down to lower trims like LT or LS can save you thousands, but that'll also do away with some comfort, tech, and visual features. At nearly 19 feet long and seven feet wide, it's bigger (and cheaper) than a Bay Area apartment. The value is definitely there when you factor in the amenities, the comfort, and the role a vehicle of this caliber plays in a family of six, seven, eight, or even more people. And don't forget, it can still tow daddy's boat—as long as it weighs less than 8,000 pounds.
The 2022 Chevrolet Suburban is a simple beast with a simple mission, and that's my favorite thing about it. There are no gimmicks or smoking mirrors. You know exactly what you're getting when you buy a Suburban.
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