2011 Chevrolet Suburban


Review: 2007 Chevrolet Suburban

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2014.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

Worth a good look if you need a big sport-utility vehicle.
  • Nicely redesigned
  • Roomy
  • Reasonable fuel economy
  • Elephantine size
  • High step-in
  • No five-speed automatic transmission

The first Chevrolet Suburban was introduced in 1935 and its nameplate is still with us. That shows that there long has been a need for a large people/cargo hauler, although the "SUV" designation was about 50 years in the future then.

Chevrolet began redesigning the 2007 Suburban several years ago, when it was raking in lots of money from sales of the previous Suburban, and when few suspected that gasoline prices would hit $3 per gallon, as they did last summer.

Gas prices have fallen a lot, at least as of this writing. But owners of large SUVs such as the Suburban would still need their space and towing ability, even if fuel prices had stayed at $3 per gallon. Some would just put off buying a new Suburban for awhile, that's all.

Steady Market
Japanese automakers are attempting to take on Detroit with big SUVs, but American automakers have a leg up; they've long been designing such vehicles and possess the customer loyalty and large dealer networks to keep their large SUVs popular, even if production dips.

The new Suburban is virtually all-new, inside and out. Ford has dropped its big Excursion SUV. Thus, for now at least, the Suburban and its derivative models, such as the Cadillac Escalade, are the largest SUVs. Chevy says the Suburban can carry more people and cargo than any other full-size SUV.

More Shapely
The 2007 Suburban is more shapely and it has plenty of power and torque, along with an improved interior and new features. It's built on a stronger, stiffer, fully boxed frame that enhances roadability and crash energy management.

The Suburban's 4-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, but some rivals have a more modern 5-speed automatic.

Steering, handling and braking are good for a big truck, although the brake pedal should have a more progressive action. The 130-inch wheelbase helps provide a smooth sedan-like ride. And a stability control system with new rollover mitigation technology is standard.

Despite the Suburban's generally car-like nature, though, you never forget that you're in a giant SUV. Its elephantine size discourages quick maneuvers and fast lane changes.

Better Steering
However, stability is enhanced by a more responsive suspension and wider front and rear tracks that lower the center of gravity for a more confident road feel. Gone is the annoying vagueness of the old Suburban steering, thanks to new rack-and-pinion steering.

The Suburban delivers an estimated 15 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway with rear-wheel drive and 15 and 20 with 4-wheel drive with its standard 5.3-liter V8. That's not bad for an SUV that weighs approximately 5,800 pounds.

Fuel-Saving Feature
Helping keep fuel economy reasonable is the Active Fuel Management fuel-saving feature of the Suburban's stout 5.3-liter 320-horsepower pushrod V8. That feature allows the engine to seamlessly switch between 8- and 4-cylinder operation to lower fuel consumption. The engine also has flex-fuel capability for an ethanol-gasoline blend, which can be tough to find.

More towing capacity is provided by an optional 6.0-liter 366-horsepower pushrod V8, although it provides less fuel economy.

Three Trim Levels
There are LS, LT and LTZ trim levels. List prices range from $36,660 for the LS rear-wheel-drive versions to $48,345 for the top-line LTZ with 4-wheel drive. I tested the midrange LT version with 4-wheel drive, which cost $40,235.

All Suburbans have a good amount of comfort and convenience equipment, but option packages can cause prices to escalate. For instance, my test Suburban had a $4,050 package containing leather upholstery, power adjustable pedals, power heated front seats, Bose premium sound system, remote starter and head side-curtain airbags with rollover protection.

Other popular options are a $1,295 rear entertainment system with a larger (8-inch) screen and a $995 power sliding sunroof. The $350 power remote liftgate is handy if your arms are full of groceries.

Improved Roomy Interior
The marginal interior has been replaced by a quiet interior with an upscale appearance. Gauges can be quickly read, and cupholders and controls are logically placed. However, sound system and climate controls are small. There's plenty of room in the covered front console cargo compartment. Front doors have roomy pockets, but rear ones have no pockets of any size.

Seven tall adults could be swallowed by my test LT, although the Suburban can seat up to nine. Even the third-row seat area was roomy for two 6-footers, although above-average effort is needed to reach it, and getting out calls for awkward moves.

The Suburban stands tall, so running boards are needed for most to enter or leave any seating row. Buyers of the LTZ can get $1,095 power running boards, which glide out when a door is opened and move out of slight when it's closed. They're worth the money in snow-belt areas, if only because they don't allow snow and ice buildup.

Large Cargo Area
The large hatch has a fairly low, wide opening—a good thing because Suburbans tend to be loaded and unloaded a lot. The cargo space is spacious when two rows of seats are in their normal position, with raised seatbacks, but the third seat in that position allows just a moderately large cargo area. The third-row seatback flips forward, and that seat can be removed for more cargo room, although it's heavy and cumbersome.

The much-improved new Suburban should be appreciated by both new and veteran Suburban owners. Its nameplate may even still be around 72 years from now.


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BB06 - 9/18/2014 6:57:18 AM