KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
The most stylish Suburban to date soldiers on for 2009 with a host of technological, safety and comfort upgrades. The Suburban hauls more passengers and cargo than anything in its segment, a fact not overlooked by those who need such convenience or capability. Cousin to the GMC Yukon XL and Chevrolet's own Avalanche SUV/pickup, the Suburban is also related to the shorter full-size Tahoe sport-utility. The 2009 Chevrolet Suburban can be had with two- or four-wheel drive, and in regular 1500 or heavy-duty 2500 models. Depending upon the model, a variety of V8 engines are available, from a 5.3-liter Flex-Fuel V8 on 1500 models to a 352-horsepower, 6.0-liter V8 on the 2500 versions.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're a fan of big passenger-carrying wagons, and can cope with the operating costs, SUVs don't get much bigger than a Suburban. Boat and trailer owners in particular gravitate toward Suburbans, which offer up to 8,100-pounds towing capacity (or 9,600 pounds for the two-wheel-drive 2500 series).
You May Not Like This Car If...
Unless you really need this much passenger- and cargo-hauling capability, a smaller vehicle, such as the GMC Acadia, might be a better choice – especially if gasoline prices continue to fluctuate.
What's New for 2009
The big news for 2009 is the addition of a new six-speed automatic transmission and the availability of OnStar's Destination Download on models equipped with navigation. Also new is the addition of Bluetooth hands-free communication, Side Blind Zone Alert system (LTZ only), a rearview mirror-mounted screen for the optional backup camera and an enhanced LTZ trim.
Refinement, though markedly improved, shines less brightly in Suburbans than in shorter-length GM trucks. With four-wheel drive and the 6.0-liter V8, the new automatic transmission is a vast improvement over the previous unit, which sometimes seemed to shift a little abruptly. Despite an abundance of sound deadening materials, there is noticeable engine noise under harder acceleration. However, ride comfort is considerably more appealing; it's pleasantly absorbent and cushiony on smooth surfaces and copes reasonably well with bumps. Acceleration is vigorous from a standstill, if less so to pass or merge. The Suburban feels more truck-like than smaller SUVs and, on the expressway, it behaves admirably.
Active Fuel Management Technology
Chevrolet is one of several automakers offering V8 engines that can automatically switch to four-cylinder operation as a fuel-saving measure, and it's a welcome feature. Considering the propensity of big SUVs to guzzle gasoline, every little bit of technology that reduces consumption is a bonus.
Power-operated Running Boards
Sure, they might tap you in the shin if you're standing too close, but the Suburban's optional power running boards are wide enough to really help passengers who might have trouble climbing aboard.
There is more passenger space and improved seating comfort compared to previous generation Suburbans, along with greater overall refinement – including enclosing the "close-outs" around seat bottoms for a cleaner appearance. Rear-seat passengers get increased shoulder room, and the driver benefits from a lower instrument panel that helps increase front-seat space. Two-tone color schemes use softer, low-gloss materials for the instrument panel. The third-row seat is removable, and a power-release fold-and-tumble second-row seat is available.
At 222.4 inches overall on a 130-inch wheelbase, the Suburban is undeniably a biggie. With body-on-frame construction, it's clearly a truck – though fancier in appearance than many cargo haulers. Improved aerodynamics are credited to a more sleekly-angled windshield and tighter body-gap tolerances, while a bulging power-dome hood adds to visceral appeal. Prominent fenders have integrated wheel flares, and the lower fascia displays a skid-plate look to enhance the rugged aura. Standard 17-inch wheels can be replaced by 20-inchers.
Notable Standard Equipment
Three trim levels are available: LS, LT and LTZ, with three sub-divisions of the LT level (1LT, 2LT and 3LT), and with either two- or four-wheel drive. Standard LS equipment includes daytime running lights, head-curtain side airbags, GM's OnStar emergency and communications system, side steps, split-bench front seat, cloth upholstery, heated power mirrors and remote keyless entry. The 2LT adds automatic air conditioning, leather seats and a six-disc CD/MP3 changer. Additional equipment on the LTZ includes Autoride suspension, heated and cooled front-row and heated second-row seats, power-release folding second-row seats, a power liftgate, limited-slip differential, Bose Surround Sound speakers and 20-inch wheels.
Notable Optional Equipment
The Z71 Off-Road option includes larger recovery-hook openings, more prominent foglamps, platinum chrome grille trim and on-road/off-road tires on 18-inch wheels. Power articulated running boards automatically move downward and outward as the doors open. Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist is available, or the optional rearview camera displays the view behind the vehicle. The optional DVD-based rear-seat entertainment system features an eight-inch screen and in-dash loading. Also optional is the 6.0-liter V8 engine and a touch-screen navigation system, and, for vehicles not equipped with a navigation screen, a rearview camera display included in the rearview mirror. Side Blind Alert is available, but only on the LTZ trim.
Under the Hood
With two-wheel drive, the Suburban 1500 has a standard iron-block 5.3-liter V8 engine that produces 310 horsepower. Four-wheel-drive models get a standard all-aluminum V8 also rated at 310 horsepower. A 366-horsepower, 6.0-liter all-aluminum V8 is optional. Suburban 2500 models contain an iron-block 6.0-liter V8 that generates 352 horsepower. All engines except those in the 2500 models operate with Active Fuel Management technology, and two of the 5.3-liter V8s are E85-compatible.
310 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
335 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD)
5.3-liter V8 Flex-Fuel
310 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
335 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD, gasoline), 10/15 (2WD, E85), N/A (4WD, gasoline), N/A (4WD, E85)
366 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
376 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
352 horsepower @ 5400 rpm
382 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
In base LS trim with two-wheel drive, the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $40,000. The top-of-the-line LTZ with four-wheel drive starts over $50,000; four-wheel drive adds about $3,000 across the board. The Fair Purchase Price, which represents what consumers are actually paying, is certain to be somewhat lower. Be sure to click on Fair Purchase Prices to check what the Suburban is currently selling for in your area. In terms of resale value, the Suburban is expected to do better than Ford's Expedition, be on par with the GMC Yukon, but fall below the values held by the Toyota Sequoia and Nissan Armada.