The Perfect Vehicle for Busy Texas Families
Believe it or not, the Suburban has been a part of the American landscape for 80 years as it celebrates its 80th birthday next year. The first one rolled off the assembly line in 1935 as a sort of station wagon built on a truck body. This was the birth of an American obsession; this was the birth of the SUV. We’re now looking at the twelfth-generation of this big SUV and the formula has progressed, but still remains the same in its most basic form. The Suburban is still built on a truck platform, the platform of the Silverado which also just underwent a major update, but unlike the first-gen which was a bare-bones offering, the 2015 is packed full of luxury and technology.
These big SUVs took a big hit in 2008 and the years following as gas prices rose and the economy tanked. The resurgence in sales is a huge testament to just how important these vehicles are to the Texas and American lifestyle. Speaking of Texas, every single large SUV sold by GM is produced right here at the Arlington plant. It’s not just words either as I’ve owned a Tahoe, my father owned a Suburban, and I’ve had plenty of family and friends that have owned a wide range of big GM SUVs. People in larger cities up north or on the coasts may still not understand the draw of such a vehicle, but they can be essential to life for big and active families so let’s take a look at what advantages the 2015 has to offer.
For the newest generation, we’re seeing a big design shift for the exterior with a much more boxy overall profile. The front-end, though, has some of the most stylized and quirky features, most notably the new headlight design. They start very flat and flush with the grille, then wrap around the side of the vehicle and form a sort of boomerang shape on the side. Upon seeing this for the first time, I was really put off by the design but hopped as I saw it more it would grow on me. Unfortunately, it really hasn’t and I still feel like they just look awkward on this big SUV. The grille is big and bold with chrome accents and a large bow-tie resting in the center. The hood is bulgy with nice muscular lines giving the front end some added aggression. Around the side, it’s mostly flat with detail only in the door handles and side mirrors. Around back is where they’ve turned the most boxy, so much so that I’ve heard it being compared to a school bus.
Overall, I think the exterior design could be better with a few small tweaks but there is a silver-lining and that’s the inside. One of the great things about being inside the new Suburban is that you’re not encumbered with looking at the outside.
Luckily, that’s not the best thing about the interior. This is finally somewhere you’ll really enjoy spending some time. One of the biggest gripes and letdowns with the older models was the build quality of the interior. It’s not just the materials, but quality of electronics and entertainment as well. Thank goodness that seems to be fixed with this one.
Chevrolet touts this as the quietest Suburban yet, and that’s easily noticeable. They had a major focus on a quiet cabin for the driver and passengers using features such as an acoustic-laminated windshield and inlaid doors with triple seals to help reduce wind and exterior noise, but the quietness isn’t the only thing you’ll appreciate when in the cabin. You also get really nice, perforated leather seats and nice leather accents all throughout the cabin. When I drove the 2014 GMC Acadia, I mentioned that it would be nice to see such a well-designed and well-appointed interior in GM’s bigger SUVs and that’s exactly what we got.
You’re not just buying this vehicle for a quality interior, though. You also want space. This all new Suburban offers up 121.1-cu. ft. of cargo space, and with a variety of seating and cargo configurations, you can easily fit the family and all your gear for any occasion. One great update is the lack of removable rear seats. The third-row now folds flat into the floor meaning you never have to struggle to pull out your back seat and store it in your garage when you need the extra room.
More than just room and being comfortable, the new Suburban also throws some great technology and features your way. Our tester was equipped with the Blu-Ray DVD player and the 9-inch rear seat display. This is an essential feature for longer drives with the family. You also get a Bose premium sound system so those movies really come alive. Also packed into the dash is an 8-inch touch screen with Chevrolet’s newest MyLink technology. This allows you to connect to apps and a range of in-car features, but also allows you to connect your vehicle to your smartphone. With the MyLink app, you can lock and unlock your car, sound the alarm, or even remote start.
With all this new technology and luxury packed into the Suburban, you’ll definitely want a powerful yet efficient powertrain. Under the hood is Chevrolet’s new EcoTec3 5.3-liter V8 engine. This is matched up with a 6-speed transmission and pushes a healthy 355-horsepower while still being able to achieve an impressive 23-mpg highway rating. In real-world driving, we saw an average of 17.8-mpg which, considering the vehicle and what we put it though, wasn’t bad at all. This is thanks to the cylinder deactivation technology that GM has honed so well. The only way you can tell a change has occurred is by looking at the indicator in the instrument cluster.
Besides competing with its many cousin vehicles, there really isn’t too much to pit the Suburban against. You can look at big luxury SUVs offered from the Germans or Japanese, but they really don’t compare in size. You can look at the Ford Expedition, but it seems like that’s not even really competing with the Suburban anymore either as it no longer offers a V8. These big GM SUVs are really in a class of their own and are finally in a state where you can really own one as a luxurious family vehicle.
Of course, all the new interior, technology, and size come at a price. The base LS model has a starting price of $47,595. That gets you the bare bones interior, but you still get that great engine. Moving up into some leather, you’ll be looking at the LT which has a base price of $52,700. Our tester was the LTZ which starts at $61,700, but quickly shoots up as you add options like ours that had an MSRP of $72,835. Looking at what else is out there that’s anywhere near this big and is as nice of an overall vehicle, that’s actually a pretty great price. Unfortunately, it’s pretty far outside of most families’ budgets, especially larger families who really need the utility.