EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Anybody who knows me knows I love Chevy Suburbans. Always have.
I think this 2015 redo is just right. Like the new full-size GM pickups, there's nothing radical here. The shape is more creased and modern, and interior quality is way up, as is on-road refinement. It's still huge and nice to drive and will tow something like 9,000 pounds.
But it's all about refinement. The 5.3-liter V8's horsepower and torque are up about 10 percent, the chassis is stiffer and the body was chiseled and sculpted for a quieter on-highway experience.
Also like GM's new pickups, the Suburban feels much better on the road -- (slightly) more wieldy around town with (again, slightly) quicker reactions. I fully realize I'm talking about a near-6,000-pound truck, so when I write words like “wieldy” and “quicker,” I'm talking wieldy and quicker for a 6,000 pounder. That said, on the freeway it's just amazing -- quiet, smooth and stable. When we named the Chevy Silverado the Best of the Best Truck for 2014, we said there were some luxury automakers that could take a lesson from the pickup's refinement levels. That definitely applies here.
The revamped interior is terrific. Needless to say there is tons of room, and as I said, much better materials -- more soft-touch plastics, everything screwed together well. Comfortable. I recently spent several hours in the saddle and am ready for several more.
Yes, I love it. I'd happily drive one of these every day. It's killing me to give up the keys.
The 2015 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ comes in at a base price of $65,695 with our tester topping off at $72,835.
DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: I'm not a big-truck aficionado, but the 2015 Chevy Suburban is an easy vehicle to love. Despite its size, weight and sheer mass, it's not difficult to wheel around. The 5.3-liter V8 seemed more responsive and capable than it did in the lighter GMC Yukon we had recently -- I have no explanation for this, but my complaints about barely adequate power in the Yukon evaporated in the Suburban. Perhaps there's a calibration difference or an issue with our earlier Yukon? There's never any doubt about the mass you're asking the V8 to move, but the Suburban's capabilities are in line with what I expect from a vehicle of this size, and the 15 mpg average I saw in mixed driving isn't too horrifying.
As Wes said, the highway ride is just extraordinary -- for a fundamentally truck-based full-size SUV, the Suburban delivers a pure luxury experience on the open road. It's quiet and confident, and the driver is presented with a complete range of controls at his or her fingertips in this loaded LTZ model -- heated steering wheel, air-conditioned seats, power moonroof and Chevy's excellent MyLink infotainment system.
The Suburban makes a lot more sense to me than the short-wheelbase Yukon/Tahoe twins -- after all, if you need something this big, spring for the extra cargo space in the back. The difference in vehicle price and fuel economy is negligible, and the Suburban makes it practical to carry a full load of passengers and still be able to fit all their luggage; the rear cargo space gets very tight in the Yukon/Tahoe with seven people on board, and there are nicer choices in that size category.
For four passengers and the dog I'm still picking the Mercedes-Benz GL350 Bluetec. For six passengers and the dog, the Suburban wins it.
The 2015 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ is equipped with a 5.3-liter V8.
SENIOR MOTORSPORTS EDITOR MAC MORRISON: I might be a sports-car and small-car guy at heart, but I have to admit I, too, am a big fan of this 2015 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ.
As Wes and Andy mentioned, the ride is by far the best yet for this rolling monolith; of course, it is still not as refined as a unibodied crossover, but it's not far off. Say goodbye to the old annoying shimmies and shakes usually expected from a truck-based platform. The steering is light but not floaty, and while the brake pedal isn't on the plus side of firm by any means, neither is it difficult to modulate braking pressure and smoothness. The Suburban is now legitimately confidence-inspiring to drive, and I dare say you forget easily just how large of a vehicle you are piloting.
The interior, too, is a nice step forward. Nice leather seats and trim, nice switchgear and gauges on both the dash and steering wheel. I concur with Andy that MyLink is very nice to use thanks to the simplicity of its interface and logical menus and screen displays.
Cheap? Not at all, but when you consider how much coin so many people shell out for far less practical and utilitarian trucks/utes, the Suburban makes a lot more sense than most of them -- especially if you have an actual use for all the cargo room, passenger room and towing capacity, as opposed to simply trucking around suburbia in an excessive indulgence in personal style and image.
Perhaps the most telling thing I can say here is, I'm not usually a long road-trip kind of guy, but if I owned a Suburban I have a feeling I'd look for excuses to travel as far and wide as my schedule allowed.
The rear cargo compartment of the 2015 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ offers plenty of space.
EXECUTIVE EDITOR RORY CARROLL: I had to move a couch up to Traverse City, Mich. I had to carry it from my apartment to the Suburban and load it in there. I grabbed it by one end and dragged it. When I had to lift it, to make sure it didn't get all torn up on the concrete, I grabbed the bolster and leaned way back, aiming the other end of the couch at the open hatch of the Suburban. Then I leaned forward and the couch went all the way in. I shut the hatch easily. (I moved the same couch last summer in a Lexus GX, and couldn't close the rear hatch. It was raining.) There was room for luggage and a dog in the back, even with the big couch. Then I drove the big Chevy four hours home to Traverse City, mostly on the freeway. The Suburban was incredibly comfortable from the front seat.
If I were the person responsible for loosing 3-5 demon kids on this world, didn't need to move the couch, but I did want to tow a boat up to Traverse City (maybe I would have put the couch in the boat), I could have done that, too.
And that's kind of the thing with the Suburban. As ludicrous as the whole “everyone in an SUV” craze was, there are actual people who need or at least have legitimate reasons to prefer a car that seats 7-9, holds luggage and can tow stuff. And if that's you, there aren't too many other options out there.
I even like the way the Suburban looks. It's pretty unapologetic about its size, which works, even if I'm not crazy about the headlights, which kind of look like they're crying.
Chevy lists the MSRP for a base Suburban at $47,595, but ours had a very nice leather interior and some other features that bumped the price up to around $73K. While this is clearly higher than most people would be able to pay for a car, I think Chevy should do a low-volume SS version with all the best interior crap, a body kit and a stonking supercharged small-block. Even at $100K+, they'd sell out -- and Chevy could probably charge even more than that. Fuel economy would likely be dismal, but I doubt that's even a consideration for the target customer of such a car.
Everyone who sat in the Suburban over the weekend was floored by the quality of the interior. That's probably worth noting, too.
The 2015 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ receives an EPA-estimated 18 mpg combined fuel economy.
2015 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ
SENIOR ROAD TEST EDITOR NATALIE NEFF: It's difficult to track down what exactly the dimensions of the aperture of the Suburban's cargo hold are. Go ahead and try; the best I could find was the height and width of a 2013 model. I had to extrapolate from there what the new-for-2015 Suburban's might measure, based on absolutely no real data.
It's harder to visualize what a given liftgate opening looks like, or if it will, in fact, allow you to fit a particular piece of furniture through and into the cargo hold. It's not, after all, a perfectly rectangular hole but is rather vaguely trapezoidal, with various lips and voids and curves, etc., defining the edges and of which there is no way to know if they will give clearance, at least not when trying to determine such from the images on a computer screen.
We had a solid oak dining room table to move, the sort that starts out seating six and expands with three leaves to fit like 100 more. The base comprises two substantial legs that flair like ostrich feet at the base. Sort of like those shape sorter baby toys, we were gambling that the table would simply slide in, upside down, a square block into the square hole and without having to manipulate this end down, feed it under that edge, turn it slightly and then slither the whole assemblage forward to the front-most seatbacks.
Our worries went unfounded. The Suburban swallowed the table without a blink, with maybe a half-inch to spare at the top and a good 2 feet of room to spare to the liftgate. Moving made easy, courtesy of the Chevy Suburban.
The actual driving experience has changed very little from the last gen, except to get even better. I echo everyone else here in saying piloting the 'Burban is a joy, even if it feels so like driving around your living room from the Barcalounger. The ride is luxury-level stuff, smooth, quiet and almost completely untrucklike; the power from the Ecotec 5.3-liter is plentiful; and the entire experience satisfying. I said it as soon as I had to turn in the keys, this truck wanted for absolutely nothing. Of course, that $73K sticker means it shouldn't.
Base Price: $65,695
As-Tested Price: $72,835
Drivetrain: 5.3-liter V8; 4WD, six-speed automatic
Output: 355 hp @ 5,600 rpm, 383 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm
Curb Weight: 5,896 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 15/22/18 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 14.9 mpg
Options: Sun, entertainment, destination package including: power sunroof, additional 9 months of XM radio, Chevrolet MyLink audio system, diagonal color touch and navigation ($3,305); running boards, power retractable ($1,745); adaptive cruise control, automatically adjusts speed ($1,695); max trailering package including rear axle, 3.42 ratio, trailer brake controller, transfer case 2-speed ($500); theft-deterrent system-body, self-powered horn, sensor, vehicle inclination, sensor, interior vehicle movement ($395)
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