By KBB.com Editors
High gas prices are the talk of the day, leading many car buyers to focus on smaller, more efficient models. For some people, however, bigger isn't necessarily better, but it is necessary. Especially well-suited for large families and those who tow a camper, boat or horse trailer, the 2011 Chevrolet Suburban is a completely modernized version of a genuine workhorse. It's available in light-duty 1500 and heavy-duty, three-quarter-ton 2500 guises and three trim levels: the base LS, the mid-level LT and the upscale LTZ. Inside its cavernous confines is seating for up to nine occupants, cargo space that maxes out at 137.4 cubic feet, and all of the available luxuries and amenities required by families, contractors, and others.
If you need the towing capacity of a full-size pickup truck coupled with the capability to seat nine people or fill an expansive dry and secure cargo area, the 2011 Chevy Suburban (and similar GMC Yukon XL) is arguably your best choice.
It takes a lot of fuel to haul this much mass up and down the road. With prices at the pump continuing to trend upward, buyers should ask themselves if they need the Suburban's space and utility enough to justify the expense.
Chevy has treated its largest SUV to a few tweaks this year, including the availability of new exterior colors, a new 20-inch chrome wheel option and a towing package that now includes an integrated trailer brake controller.
Driving Impressions Despite being an extremely large SUV built on a truck frame and designed to pull or carry heavy loads, the 2011 Chevrolet Suburban delivers suitable comfortable ride around town and...on the highway. Occupants will certainly feel the bumps, but the suspension does an admirable job of absorbing them. All models benefit from capable V8 engines and a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission, though more powertrain noise makes its way to the cabin than drivers may prefer.
Active Fuel Management Technology
This technology is also known as cylinder deactivation. In light load situations, such as cruising on a flat highway, power is cut from eight to four cylinders in an effort to conserve fuel. As soon as more power is needed, all eight cylinders are automatically put back to work.
Power-Operated Running Boards
The available power-operated running boards, which pop out when a door is opened and retreat when closed, are of considerable help for passengers who find getting into and out of the Suburban to be difficult.
Inside the 2011 Suburban is a cabin that includes seating for up to nine passengers, with standard front buckets that can be replaced by a split three-passenger bench seat. The third-row bench is easily accessed courtesy of an available second-row fold-and-tumble feature. That third row is, however, a bit old school in that it cannot be completely folded into the floor; it must be removed if you wish to maximize cargo space. Interior materials are acceptable, if not high-end, and the overall appearance is stylish yet understated. Storage is plentiful, with generous armrest storage and multiple pockets and cupholders.Exterior
When it comes to vehicles you can buy off your local dealer's lot, there's not much capable of casting a shadow over the 2011 Chevrolet Suburban. It's a full-size SUV, indeed. Modern styling shared with the Chevy Tahoe and Avalanche models allows the body-on-frame rig to appear big, yet refined at the same time. That's due in part to restrained hood and fender bulges as well as precision body gaps that were introduced with the Suburban's last redesign. The whole package rolls on 17-inch wheels, which can be replaced by new-for-2011, dealer-installed, chrome 20-inchers.
Chevrolet offers its 2011 Suburban 1500 in three flavors: LS, LT and LTZ, while the Suburban 2500 comes in just LS and LT. Shoppers considering the LS will discover a list of standard features that includes USB and auxiliary input jacks, Bluetooth connectivity, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and complimentary access to satellite radio service and OnStar's Turn-by-Turn navigation tool. The LT adds upgrades such as leather upholstery, triple-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable pedals, and a remote-start system, while the LTZ packs on second-row bucket seats and a rearview camera.
There's no shortage of optional equipment available for the Suburban, as Chevy offers the 2011 model with a variety of stand-alone features and equipment packages. The list includes a power sunroof, power-retractable running boards, a remote-controlled rear DVD unit with wireless headphones, a blind-spot system and dealer-installed chrome wheels measuring up to 22 inches. For a more aggressive look and added capability, the Z71 Off-Road Package fits the Suburban with off-road tires and suspension components, skid plates, an automatic locking rear differential and a chrome grille.
Chevrolet equips its 2011 Suburban 1500 with a 5.3-liter V8 that delivers 320 horsepower when running on gasoline, or 326 horses if the fuel tank is filled with E85 (a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gas). The heavy duty Suburban 2500 packs a bigger punch with its 352-horsepower 6.0-liter V8. Both engines feature Chevy's Active Fuel Management system, which cuts power from eight to four cylinders under light load situations. This technology, along with a standard six-speed automatic transmission, serves to improve the efficiency of Chevrolet's heavy-hauling SUV.
5.3-liter V8 FlexFuel
320 horsepower @ 5400 rpm (gasoline)
326 horsepower @ 5300 (E85)
335 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm (gasoline)
348 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 (E85)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 (gasoline), 11/16 (E85)
352 horsepower @ 5400 rpm
382 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 10/15 (2WD), 10/15 (4WD)
By Frank (OH) on Sunday, April 21, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 64,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fuel economy for the size; space; features"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Great vehicle! I haven't had any issues with it in four years of driving it. It has plenty of space and great features. Fuel economy is close to 20 mpg in the warmer months."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Jsan (MO) on Sunday, March 31, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 127,059overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "It handle surprisingly well for how big it is."
Cons: "Engine and transmission failing!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"The engine was poorly designed and they could have done a better fuel program that would meet each customers need. Its also really big so not a city vehicle at all. And lastly Transmission problems."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By warren (AL) on Tuesday, March 05, 2013
I don't own this caroverall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "absolutely wonderful ride the last of a dyingbreed"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"why on gods green earth wold ANYONE buy an 80k dollar toyota land cruiser whe they could have the suburban and all of the reliability comfort room style wonderful driving dynamics and overall quality along aith the best resale in the business. for 57k!!! nuff said!!!"
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By MJ (OH) on Friday, December 14, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliable, comfortable +++, Safety features"
Cons: "Pricey, big to park, fuel."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This is a luxury car. Extremely comfortable with nearly every imaginable comfort, "bell and whistle". The "flex fuel" option allows me to have averaged 16.4 mpg...I drive about 15 country miles back and forth to work each day and then a bunch of "around town" stuff...nto bad for this size vehicle. We also travel 12+ hrs with two little ones on a regular basis to visit family. It is very comfortable for us all, and we can fit a TON of stuff in there (this does not help me control my over-packing tendencies...lol). I could not imagine being any happier with a car. I have the White diamond exterior paint...gorgeos! The color is what I couldn't resist...but I now love the rest of it just as much. This also handles very well in snow, and mud...the heated seats are heavenly and it actually cools pretty quickly in the summer despite the amount of space that needs cooling. Downside: It is a little drifty in high winds (like 40+mph....we live in a VERY flat part of the midwest). It does cost a fair amount of money to fill the tank."
9 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Nostromo (NJ) on Tuesday, November 06, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,350overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "All Of The Comforts Of Home"
Cons: "It does consume fuel; just so you know."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Circumstances found me requiring a vehicle larger than my 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe LTZ. This time, instead of selling to a relative, I traded up for the 2013 7-seat configuration Chevrolet Suburban LTZ. I chose this well-optioned Suburban for its enhanced carrying capacity, luxuriously appointed interior and refined road manners. I was able to take 6 people, including myself, and all of our gear to the New Jersey shore for several days of surf fishing recently. This, of course, was prior to Hurricane Sandy walloping New Jersey with a fury not seen in decades. We left for home two days prior to the hurricane's arrival and as the seas began to churn. The structural integrity of the Suburban LTZ is unsurpassed and bespeaks a vehicle of more compact dimensions. I feel comfortable in tight spaces in much the same manner as with backing-in to a parking spot with my former vehicle, the Tahoe. Outward vision's very good and a Side Blind Zone Alert system embedded in both side view mirrors notifies the driver of vehicles/objects which may be out of the driver's peripheral view. The rear-view camera is a tremendous aid in backing-up and an intuitive grid, which reflects the direction of travel, is displayed on the Navigation/Video screen to alert the driver to obstacles and represents the path of the rear end of the Suburban while in-motion. I like that feature as it allows the driver to 'square-up' the flanks of the vehicle relative to painted lines in a parking lot and/or vehicles on either side. This feature alone can make a good driver a better driver. I enjoy feeling pampered while driving my new Suburban. Comfortable heated and cooled front seats, adjustable control pedals, heated steering wheel and a top-flight Bose audio/video system are conveniences that I relate to whether settling in for a long trip or going out for dinner with friends; I like to tell them that I'm willing to drive. I have not detected a squeak, rattle in over 2000 miles of driving so far. There's a lean, taut feel to this 2013 Suburban that I favor. At highway speeds wind noise is minimal and even at that the audio automatically compensates for it in raising the volume commensurate with increased speed. The 2013 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ represents the pinnacle of this body style's development. The paint on my vehicle is flawless, the body panel fit is precise and flush at the seams where the doors, roof and curved fascias meet. The stance of the Suburban is purposeful even when the vehicle is not in motion and I've received many compliments on my choice which is fine though humbling. You can do a lot with this vehicle and configure the seats so that you can haul/move just about everything. I ask; What's not to like?"
13 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Gordon (WI) on Saturday, September 29, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 62,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Best ride, most reliable, safe."
Cons: "You have to be able to afford it."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is the my third Suburban. I still own the 2004, which now has 240,000 miles. It wasn't perfect. At 205,000 miles, I had to get a break job. :) That was my first repair on the car. Unbelievable. It might be the best car that General Motors ever made. I still have not done any major work on engine or transmission and my son went on a 7,000 mile road trip without a hitch or a worry on my part. My 2011 seems to be off to the same kind of start. My only complaint with the changes is that the passenger seats no longer lay completely flat, meaning you lose that extra two feet of cargo space. I am a big man in my 50's with some back issues. Suburban's have the best ride of any vehicle, period. I have driven it from Wisconsin to Seattle in two days, with very little soreness. It is like going first class instead of coach."
9 people out of 10 found this review helpful