Not only is the Chevrolet Suburban a big honkin’ vehicle, it’s big business for General Motors. The General controls 75 percent of the full-size sport-utility market with the Suburban, Tahoe, the cushier GMC Yukon lineup and the full-zoot luxury Cadillac Escalades. The big SUVs feature meaty profit margins and, like full-size pickup trucks, have really strong brand and model loyalty. You know that neighbor down the street who replaced his older Suburban with a newer Suburban? Yeah, you know the one. There are a lot of folks like that out there.
So when it came time to redesign its big SUVS, GM had to walk a fine line by not changing things up too much when it came to styling, but it still had to look fresh. To my eye, GM succeeded with the Suburban. It still looks like a Suburban, but there are subtle things in the design that instantly let you know that it’s a new one. The rear quarter window with the blacked-out rear-most pillar above the taillights are the giveaway, alerting me that it’s the latest model. On the flip side, it still has the big, burly, trucky look that all Suburbans should have.
The effort to ratchet things up in the interior is really clear, though. There were a lot of hard and hollow-feeling plastic pieces littered around the cabin in the outgoing trucks, but now there a lot of quality, soft-touch areas and wrapped surfaces with a design featuring curvy lines to jazz things up a bit. Build quality appears high with tight panel gaps, and insulation from wind and road noise is noteworthy. It’s quite a nice place to spend time in now and I would argue that the jump up into the more premium GMC Yukons isn’t really necessary. The high seating position is great and the front bucket seats are real comfortable.
The interior quality of the 2015 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ is higher than ever before.
Some other reasons why I don’t think upgrading to a GMC is necessary? Our 2015 Chevy Suburban LTZ tester is packed full of niceties like magnetic ride suspension, high-intensity discharge lights, LED running lamps, front park assist, heated and cooled front seats, blind spot warning and rear traffic alert to go with this Suburban’s leather-lined interior.
One thing you can’t get in the Chevy that you can get in the GMCs is the 6.2-liter V8 option. Instead, the Suburban is only offered with the 5.3-liter that propelled this near-5,700-pound barge around just fine. It never seemed like it was running out of steam. Instead it got things moving smoothly along with slick and well timed shifts from the six-speed automatic transmission.
Thanks to the magnetic ride suspension, the Suburban feels about as well composed as a vehicle of its weight and ride height can. You’ll still feel some roll in corners, obviously, but the electric power steering feels responsive and lightly weighted to make maneuvering the Suburban around easy enough. The 20-inch tires surely help by providing a nice wide footprint, too. Brakes are very responsive with the big clamps getting this slowed in a brisk manner. For such a monstrous vehicle, the Suburban drives smaller than it is, all while providing high levels of ride comfort.
Then, of course, there’s the never-ending mission of improving fuel efficiency, and the Suburban does deliver in that area a smidge. Compared to the rear-wheel drive 2014 Suburban that had an EPA fuel economy rating of 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway, the 2015 version improves to 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.
If I was in the market for a mongo SUV, I probably wouldn’t look much further than the Suburban. I haven’t had a go with the new Ford Expedition yet and the Toyota Sequoia is getting up there in age. The only difference is that for Michigan winters I would plop down the extra $3,000 to get 4WD and forget the sunroof and 20-inch wheels that our test car has.
The 5.3-liter under the hood of the 2015 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ is rather peppy.
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: I know, I know y’all are getting sick of me talking about how much I love Chevy Suburbans. Sorry. I can’t help it. I’ve loved them since I was a kid. The 2015 redo looks good to me, more creased, lower, more modern, bolder. Interior comfort and quality is way up. It’s really refined. The 5.3-liter V8’s horsepower and torque are up about 10 percent. Acceleration is borderline peppy if you leg it.
Like GM’s new pickups, the Suburban feels much better on the road -- (slightly) more wieldy around town with (again, slightly) quicker reactions. I realize I’m talking about a near-5,700-pound truck, so when I say words like wieldy and quicker, I’m talking wieldy and quicker for something weighing this much.
That said, on the freeway it’s just amazing -- quiet (really quiet in fact) and smooth, stable, like the last one I drove. Gone are shimmies and shakes one can get from a truck-based boxed frame platform. In naming the pickups Best of the Best, we said there were luxury automakers that could take a lesson from the pickup’s refinement levels. That definitely applies here.
As I said the revamped interior is terrific. Needless to say there is tons of room and much better materials -- more soft-touch plastics and everything is screwed together well. It’s comfortable. There’s a lot of stuff to have fun with: heated wheel, A/C seats, power moonroof and MyLink… I spent several hours in the saddle this weekend and am ready for several more.
Yes, I love it. I’d happily drive one of these every day. It’s killin’ me to give up the keys to it.
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