By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.6
The Chevrolet Suburban traces its roots to 1935, and 78 years later, this full-size SUV proudly claims its status as the oldest continuous nameplate in automotive history. While drivers' preferences have changed and gas prices have steadily climbed over the years, there are still families and fleets that yearn for or even require a massive, fuel-thirsty sport utility vehicle that can easily haul people and cargo. In those respects, the Chevy Suburban for 2013 and its twin, the GMC Yukon XL, are among the rare SUVs that can be configured to carry up to nine passengers and tow well over 9,000 pounds. Available in half-ton (1500) and heavy-duty (2500) three-quarter-ton models, the Suburban comes in trims that range from the basic to amenity-laden.
The Suburban has long earned its stripes as an SUV that can carry lots of people and haul lots of stuff. The 2013 Chevy Suburban continues that mission while offering a rugged image and many creature comforts.
There's no hiding it: The Suburban is big and thirsty. At over 18 feet long it's no joy to park, and fuel economy is dismal, from a high of 21 mpg to a low of 10 mpg. If you don't need to tow massive loads, consider a Chevy Traverse, which has a better ride and higher fuel economy.
The 2013 Suburban carries over with minimal changes. Aside from new exterior color choices, the biggest new feature is that powertrain grade braking, previously used only in tow/haul mode, now works in normal transmission mode. The feature slows the vehicle on steep descents using engine torque, which can reduce brake wear.
Driving Impressions Although the Chevy Suburban is built on a truck frame that's intended to pull or carry heavy loads, the big SUV offers a relatively comfortable ride around town...and on the highway. Bumps and road imperfections are not exactly blunted, but the Chevy's suspension does an admirable job absorbing them. Both V8 engines offered do a capable job of getting this SUV up to speed, and the Suburban's 6-speed automatic transmission is smooth. More powertrain noise makes its way into the cabin than some drivers may prefer. Due to its sheer length, the 2013 Suburban requires care when maneuvering, especially in tight spots such as parking lots. If you plan to park this vehicle in your garage, make sure its footprint will be accommodated in the space available.
ACTIVE FUEL MANAGEMENT
Both V8 engines offered in the 2013 Suburban can deactivate four cylinders during light-load driving conditions such as cruising on a flat highway. Doing this conserves some fuel and cuts emissions. When full power is needed, the cylinders are reactivated almost instantaneously.
No matter your leg length, it's easier to find a good fit behind the wheel thanks to the power-adjustable floor pedals. The feature is standard on LT and LTZ trims and available as an option in the base LS trim.
The Suburban is one of the relatively few new vehicles that can still be had with a 3-passenger bench seat up front. Combined with two other rows of 3-person benches, the Suburban can comfortably carry up to nine people. Alternatively, it can be had with pairs of front- and second-row bucket seats, allowing for greater comfort of two people in each row. Fold-and-tumble second-row seats make for easier access to the third-row seats, which can split and fold in a 50/50 fashion. Cargo room is enormous, and even with the third-row seats up, there is over 45 cubic feet of space. Up front, the 2013 Suburban is conservative yet attractive, though base LS versions still have far too many plastic bits.
The 2013 Suburban looks much the same as it has for decades: like a giant metal rectangle on wheels. A visual definition of utility, the big Chevy's boxy shape stands in contrast to the curves, waves and wild angles adorning other people-movers. Dress one of these – and yourself – in black, and some might suspect you're part of a secretive government agency. Up front is a big, 2-bar honeycomb grille with the Chevy bow-tie icon sandwiched between. The broad sides are highlighted by three boxes of windows and prominent wheel arches. Rear-wheel-drive versions have 8.9 inches of ground clearance, and 4-wheel-drive versions sit a bit higher, with 9.2 inches of clearance.
The 2013 Chevy Suburban 1500 comes in three trims: LS, LT and top-of-the-line LTZ. (The 2500 three-quarter-ton models come in LS and LT trims.) Rear-wheel drive is standard, with 4-wheel drive an option. Base LS versions are equipped with tri-zone air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth, AM/FM/CD player with USB port, 17-inch wheels, and six months of complimentary service to OnStar Directions & Connections plan. Stepping up to the LTZ trim brings much more, including leather seats, heated and cooled front seats, Autoride suspension, locking rear differential, blind-spot monitoring system, rearview camera, rear parking assist, 20-inch wheels, and upgraded Bose audio system with 7-inch touch screen and 30-gig hard drive.
Add-ons and extras for the 2013 Suburban include power sunroof, rear DVD entertainment system with two sets of wireless headphones, Z71 off-road appearance package, 2-speed transfer case, rearview camera and parking assist for lower trims, engine block heater, heavy-duty trailering package, 22-inch wheels, retractable side steps, and third-row DVD screen.
The 2013 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 half-ton SUV has a 5.3-liter V8 that delivers 320 horsepower. The heavy-duty Suburban 2500 three-quarter-ton SUV packs a bigger punch with its 352-horsepower 6.0-liter V8. Both engines run on regular unleaded or E85 ethanol blend and feature Chevy's Active Fuel Management system, which cuts power from eight to four cylinders under light-load situations. Both engines are connected to a 6-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission.
320 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
335 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 mpg
352 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm
382 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 10/16 mpg (2WD), 10/15 mpg (4WD)
By stephsue on Monday, January 26, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 145,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Size, convenience, appeal"
Cons: "engine, gas guzzler"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"We bought this car with 100,000 miles on it, and haven't even had it for 2 years, we are now in the process of having the motor replaced because of the issues caused due to the flexfuel(which we never use anything other than regular fuel). We have had it to numerous shops for this issue and told the same from all- "the engine is a nightmare" We LOVE the size of it, its great for our family- but not owning it for even 2 years and having this many issues is very frustrating"
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By The B. on Saturday, January 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 145,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great for carrying large items, Great on the road"
Cons: "getting way too expensive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Great for hauling large objects for my work, Great on long distance on the highway, This last one had many things go wrong with it."
By BC on Saturday, January 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My wife and I have had this car for over 7 years and not a single problem. We love it and will buy another now that the body style has changed."
6 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Outdoorsman on Wednesday, December 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great interior setup and nice comfortable ride."
Cons: "Needs more HP, even when not pulling anything."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Nice ride for a family on the go, but needs more power so you can pull your toys along with you. Another 100 ponies from the 5.3 would make a huge difference."
8 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By Notoohappy on Tuesday, November 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 165,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Big Space,Comfort on long distance drives,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"The is a Truck converted to a car. Almost all of the milage is highway. At 105,000 miles the transmission needed to be replaced. $5,000 WOW. Of course just after my 100,000 mile extended warranty was over, it must be engineered this way. I never trailered or overloaded this vehicle I moved three children and a 12 lb. dog. Now at 165,000 mile I have serious engine problems. This car was always serviced at the dealer with regular oil changes. This 2009 Suburban is a disappointment and I feel that with such light usage and regular maintenance on a heavy duty vehicle it should have performed MUCH better. I won't buy another Suburban. Back to Japanese cars where they respect my big dollar expense to purchase a car."
11 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By A/B on Monday, November 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 79,400overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Excellent vehicle and selling due to new vehicle purchase. Mileage is a little high but highway miles"
19 people out of 38 found this review helpful