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 Nikki on Saturday, May 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 84,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Big, safe, not a mini van, cool"
Cons: "Gas can be a pain ,but worth it"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Much better then having a mini van. Is as tough as my Sierra but I can fit my family of eight in the suburban. Cargo area is perfect, and it can haul a lot! After I bought my first suburban I got two of my sister in-laws to by there own, they love there's. If you want something safe, reliable, and will fit a large family then a suburban is a win win."
11 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By Curly Top on Thursday, May 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 75,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Has power, comfort, roominess, & elevation"
Cons: "Really?, remove frt bumper to change bulb"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"We owned a pickup & a sedan, each for their individual purposes. Decided to go to one vehicle and the Chevy Suburban fit the bill."
6 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Andy on Thursday, May 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"I liked this suburban until the engine blew at only 54,000 miles. NO it was not because it was not maintained. I take very good care of all my vehicles but this one didn't last as others I have had. There was also a problem at about 20,000 miles when the heater went out. That was covered under the normal warranty. The engine was not covered as it was over the five year 100,000 mile drive train warranty. Luckily, I purchased an extended warranty. This is still a very good looking and comfortable vehicle and I like it except the engine blowing."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Sam C. on Friday, May 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, Smooth, Classy, Quiet Ride, Powerful"
Cons: "Pricy, Bad on Gas, Prone to theft, Easy to Speed"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I love to drive my suburban it is my daily driver and I have cranked 70000 miles on this baby since 2011 and she hasn't needed a single tune up or servicing and Delivers a smooth whisper quiet ride while being pulled by a super powerful V8. I love the plush leather seats and the quality bose sound makes the drive to any destination a breeze. I always put in premium fuel and I always get the oil changed every 2500 miles with high quality synthetic oil. My wife is the driver of this car and She LOVES it, as we switched from a 2007 Yukon XL denali to a suburban we have been just as pleased with the suburban."
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Cole Family on Tuesday, April 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 104,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Lots of features that make a long drive better"
Cons: "A little pricey and not the best MPG"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We absolutely LOVE this vehicle and would never go with anything else again. We will keep this one til it dies and then replace it with another Suburban. We have a 6 person family, so the room and comfort it offers is insurpassable."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Voiny on Friday, April 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, powerful, tows everything, roomy"
Cons: "Eats gas, 13 to 14 mpg but what do you expect?"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Why would you own any other SUV other than a Suburban? I have 3 kids and we drive to most of our vacations (just got back from Disney World!). Enough room for everything in back, drives awesome, handles like a car, you're up high and tons of power. We have horses and trailer everything and it never feels like it's pulling anything. We have a Diamond Anniversary edition and while GM doesn't make much right, one thing they do know how to make is a large SUV!"
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful