2021 Chevrolet Suburban First Drive Review

2021 Chevrolet Suburban First Drive Assessment


There is a diamond in there someplace.

Chevrolet launched the unique Suburban in the course of the first 12 months of FDR’s first presidential time period, in 1933. That makes the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban the longest-running nameplate in automotive historical past. I strongly suspect—regardless of what this or any evaluation says—that 87 years from now Chevy will nonetheless be promoting these gargantuan folks movers. The ‘Burban has been a fixture on American roads for a 3rd so long as the US has been a rustic.

Why such longevity? As a result of People want Suburbans. We’re massive folks with massive households, husky buddies, and an infinite provide of outside toys, residing in an expansive land full of majestic redwood forests and expansive Gulf Stream waters. This SUV was made for you and me.

When my European buddies go to, they have a look at these extra-full-size Chevys and ask, “Anybody can simply purchase that? You do not want a particular allow?” However American SUV aficionados ask, “Do you assume Chevy will ever make a 2500 model, with the large Duramax?”

I used to be raised to like Suburbans. We had been a GM station wagon household. However after the primary time my dad rode in a Suburban, for the following seven years he proceeded to inform anybody who’d pay attention that Chevy’s largest product was probably the most luxurious factor he’d ever sat in.

I as soon as spent per week driving a 1989 Suburban in full Duck Dynasty livery round South Carolina. I got here away considering it was GM’s high-water mark. For many years, no different car might seat as many, carry as a lot, or go so many locations. The launch of any new Suburban is an enormous deal, however particularly so now that the Ford Expedition is a better SUV than the version Chevrolet simply retired. So, how does the massive Ford stack up in opposition to the brand new mega Chevy?

What’s New for the 2021 Suburban?

My colleague Alisa Priddle wrote a great deep dive of the Suburban if you’d like each single technical element. Simply know it is a stem-to-stern redesign and re-engineering. For the needs of this evaluation, know that the 2021 Chevy Suburban incorporates a new chassis, unbiased rear suspension, a 4.1-inch-longer wheelbase, an out there (and wonderful) 277-hp, 460-lb-ft 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine, and a smaller, 5.3-liter 335-hp, 383-lb-ft V-Eight that may (lastly) be had with a 10-speed computerized.

Most necessary, with each rows of rear seats folded, you are speaking about greater than 144 cubic ft of cargo house. Which, to place it in scientific phrases, is loads (there are extra animated descriptives, however it is a household present). Sadly, solely the top-range Excessive Nation could be had with the large 420-hp, 460-lb-ft 6.2-liter V-8. Not that you actually need it.

The Suburban pictured right here begins at $63,195. We examined ours with the Z71 trim degree ($78,925), probably the most off-road centered of the six trim packages.

With conventional automobile launches on hiatus, Chevy delivered a sanitized (and tough-looking) Shadow Grey Metallic over Jet Black mannequin to my home. Since I would be driving the Suburban on my dwelling turf, I made a decision to do what most Suburban house owners do: rush off to Starbucks for espresso and a sandwich.

The closest Starbucks drive-through has a notoriously tight left-hander that challenges modestly sized automobiles and SUVs. I wished to see if nearly 19 ft (225.7 inches) of American beef would match. Might I’ve parked and ordered inside? In fact. However because the Lifeless Kennedys put it, give me comfort or give me loss of life.

As I inched into the flip, I started trying to find a surround-view digital camera button. A fast scan on the construct sheet earlier than I set off revealed my ‘Burban got here geared up with HD Encompass Imaginative and prescient, a part of the $2,820 Luxurious Bundle. Solely factor is, I could not work out methods to activate these high-def cameras whereas transferring ahead. Popping it into reverse would have a minimum of activated the backup digital camera, however I wanted to go ahead.

For context, the car I am stewarding for the following 12 months is our long-term Mercedes-Benz GLE 450. As such, I am acutely accustomed to the digital camera button instantly to the left of the touchpad. One click on brings up the parking sensors and a touchscreen filled with digital camera angles. I take advantage of it consistently. With the Suburban, although, I used to be miffed to study that the icon to activate the cameras is buried three screens deep within the navigation menu. This, you’ll quickly see, shouldn’t be the one time Chevrolet will cover its greatest stuff.

Again to the 2-mph motion: I made the flip with out the help of cameras, nevertheless it might have been much less of an ordeal. One might say, “Hey, nitpicky auto author man, when you study the place the digital camera icon is, you will not neglect. It is no massive deal.” True, however for the primary three months of residing with the Suburban, you will probably neglect the trail to activate these cameras. And that can get previous, quick.

After grabbing my meals, I parked the large boy (after which re-parked it as a result of I would completely missed the strains) and ate whereas sitting in each the center row and the third row. Humorous factor concerning the final couple of generations of Suburbans: In contrast to a genie’s lamp, they had been enormous on the skin and fairly cramped for everybody sitting behind the entrance row. Not anymore. I am 5-foot-11 and a shade underneath a big-boned 250 kilos, and I had tons of room—even within the third row, with the center captain’s chair slid all the way in which again. That is an enormous enchancment.

Cargo room? Buttons within the third row flip the center seats down, and one other press tumbles them ahead. The rear seats could be folded down through two buttons situated within the cargo space, or from the entrance seat. The quantity of stuff you may haul when this Suburban is configured as a four-seater is spectacular. With the third-row seats totally up, there appears to be extra room within the cargo space than within the two-row Mercedes GLE.

What is the Inside Like?

For the previous two Truck of the Year competitions, GM merchandise have been principally eradicated for his or her no-frills, no-love, and worse-than-the-competition interiors. I do know: Actual males do not care about good interiors! Barbed wire seats for all! However design is likely one of the standards we use to guage Of The Yr contenders, and whereas writing this text somebody texted me saying, “Shopping for a 2020 Ram 1500 Laramie. Could not discover a higher luxurious truck.”

To this point, the GMT1XX platform has graced us with interiors that may kindly be described as suboptimal. Unhappy, however true. The Suburban is a step up from the Silverado pickup, nevertheless it’s not so good as they need to be for a car of this worth. Scanning the press supplies, Chevy claims the brand new Tahoes (the shorter model of the Suburban) and Suburbans are $3,000 to $4,000 cheaper than the competitors (which means, Ford). Hey Chevy, spend the additional cash: The Expedition’s inside is larger high quality, each when it comes to appears and materials high quality. Additionally, the Silverado’s driver’s seat might have been far more comfy.

The Suburban’s underlying mechanicals, conversely, are wonderful. From the primary second I floored the accelerator, I assumed that the engine was the honkin’ 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8. The engine felt that sturdy. It was solely throughout a chat with the pleasant Chevy PR man that I used to be knowledgeable I used to be driving a mere 5.3-liter V-8.

A part of the powertrain’s power comes from the first-class 10-speed computerized transmission, the mechanicals of which had been co-developed with Ford. Nevertheless, every respective automaker does its personal programming, and like I discovered on the Camaro ZL1 launch, the magic is within the tuning. This transmission is programmed higher than any computerized I’ve pushed, save for Porsche’s PDK. A daring assertion, nevertheless it’s true. The Suburban is habitually within the right gear. Colour me tremendous impressed; it is a fabulous powertrain. I can not wait to drive a Excessive Nation.

As we noticed with the hide-and-seek actuation of the surround-view cameras, Basic Motors has a horrible, unlucky behavior of constructing world-class know-how then hiding it.

I used to be geeked to drive the brand new Suburban due to the nameplate’s first use of an unbiased rear suspension. What’s extra, my explicit mannequin sported each air springs and GM’s great MagneRide damping know-how. I had a hunch this would possibly transform the best-riding gigantic SUV of all time.

However I used to be dismayed to search out, when loafing round metropolis streets after which zooming alongside on smooth-enough Southern California freeways, the Suburban’s trip proved to be akin to a marshmallow—wallowing and lumpy and never what I hoped for, nor what all that fancy suspension tech ought to ship.

Fortunately for me, I had been trying to find the change to boost and decrease the trip peak, one of many advantages of air springs. That exact management is a button, surrounded by an unmarked rubber-coated dial. If you happen to twist that thriller dial with out pushing stated button, you may toggle between Regular, Sport, Off-Highway, and Towing modes. A fellow journalist, having spent seven hours in his Suburban, exclaimed, “There is a Sport mode?” In contrast, in a Ford Expedition,  whenever you place your proper elbow on the middle armrest, your hand involves relaxation on a large dial that reads “Drive Mode” in stop-the-presses-sized sort. I sense a operating change has already been ordered from the Suburban’s dials-and-switches suppliers.

However again to the drive. Having lastly discovered Sport mode, I can let you know it’s superior. Precisely the superlative trip high quality I would been hoping for. I suppose Regular mode is for drivers who need their Suburban to trip like a 1972 Monte Carlo. Nevertheless, world class damping is however a twist away through an unmarked dial that 99 p.c of householders won’t ever discover.

Oddly, that is what GM has been doing with its wonderful Efficiency Traction Administration (PTM) system for years. PTM is pretty much as good as multi-stepped high-performance driving modes discovered on Ferraris and AMGs. On each of the latter, the power to modify between numerous high-performance modes is the main target of the cabin (Ferrari’s Manettino is inches out of your proper hand always, and the Mercedes-AMG GT R’s yellow traction management dial could be seen at 50 yards’ distance). You wish to discover it on a Camaro or a high-performance Cadillac? First, ensure you are in Monitor mode, then double-click the traction management button simply so (which works about 60 p.c of the time). Then, one other menu managed by one other icon pops up. Once more—why bury these items? You must punch folks within the nostril along with your greatest tech.

Talking of greatest tech, a three-ton behemoth just like the 2021 Suburban might actually profit from a know-how like GM’s Tremendous Cruise. It is a semi-autonomous driving help system that is pretty much as good as something Tesla or Mercedes presently affords. Ask a GM worker about why the Suburban would not have Tremendous Cruise (it might, as a result of the 2021 Cadillac Escalade rides on the equivalent platform), and you will hear one thing about how that is a Cadillac-only know-how. Nuts to that. If PTM could be shared between manufacturers (belief me, no Cadillac CT5-V proprietor is concerned that the brand new C8 Corvette has it), then so can Tremendous Cruise. Name it Chevy Cruise (or Cruze). Job executed. One thing that prices practically $80Ok ought to benefit getting this tech.

2021 Suburban: How Does It Drive?

As soon as in Sport mode I discovered myself slightly shocked. How might one thing so massive and so heavy trip so properly, but nonetheless provide a weird diploma of sportiness? After an hour of freeway and 30 minutes of filth trails, what higher method to actually check a automobile than on Angeles Crest Freeway?

Dumbfoundingly, my Suburban “ZR1” ripped up the mountain, even on off-road-biased Goodyear Wrangler tires. Our photographer, who was trailing me in a 1,000-pound-lighter Dodge Durango, was gone from my mirrors after three corners. Simply could not sustain.

Was there any want in any respect to drive a three-row household hauler like that? Most likely not. But it surely’s turn out to be a reflex at this level to push automobiles exhausting on the Crest. I used to be so shocked and enamored with how properly the hulking Chevy dealt with one of many world’s nice roads, I saved my foot in it. I even bought a thumbs-up from a man on a motorbike on the backside. He could not get close to me. Once more, a motorbike chasing a Suburban, and the man on two wheels misplaced. I am nonetheless smiling. Nearly forgot: Off-road this massive bruiser is fairly enjoyable to stand up on three wheels.

After I drove the then-brand-new 2019 Ford Expedition two years in the past, I had no bother saying that it had surpassed each the extant Chevy Tahoe and the Suburban. I am not so positive I really feel that method concerning the new Suburban vis-à-vis its Blue Oval competitor. That comparability check might be shut, with the Chevy’s wonderful powertrain and complex suspension duking it out with the Ford’s richer, better-quality cabin.

In a world of car-based crossovers, this truck-based SUV is just about OK. I feel its exterior is nice wanting (although lose the mounted operating boards, please). It is usefully gigantic. The chassis, powertrain, and suspension are world class, and I actually loved driving it. Nevertheless, it is ergonomically confused, and the standard of the inside is not inspiring within the least. The 2021 Chevrolet Suburban has come a good distance. It simply wants a couple of extra miles to get to the place it must be.

2021 Chevrolet Suburban Z71
BASE PRICE $63,195
LAYOUT Entrance-engine, AWD, 7-8-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 5.3L/355-hp/383-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8
TRANSMISSION 10-speed computerized
CURB WEIGHT 6,000 lb (MT est)
WHEELBASE 134.1 in
L x W x H 225.7 x 81.1 x 75.7 in
0-60 MPH 7.5 sec (MT est)
EPA FUEL ECON 15/18/17 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 225/177 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.17 lb/mile
ON SALE At the moment



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