By Keith Buglewicz
With all-new styling, interior and chassis, the 2015 Chevrolet Suburban is more than just a refresh, but a wholly modern vehicle that adds a huge helping of refinement. Already nearly in a class of its own – save for other GM versions – the new Suburban leapfrogs the Ford Expedition EL with a refined interior and exterior, and finally adds things like a cargo-friendly flat-folding third row. The big SUV also gets improved steering, and an available Magnetic Ride Control suspension helps it float over bumps large and small. For a vehicle that Chevy says owners use "like a minivan," the improvements in practicality and comfort will go a long way towards expanding its everyday usability. Fuel economy, though improved, is still this V8-powered truck's biggest drawback.
If you want maximum cargo and passenger capacity, combined with 4-wheel-drive (4WD) capability, big-trailer towing capacity, and a luxurious interior, the 2015 Chevrolet Suburban is your best pick.
Despite its improvements, the 2015 Suburban is still a massive vehicle. If fuel economy and parking lot maneuverability are more important than towing or off-roading, then check out a smaller SUV, or a minivan.
The 2015 Chevrolet Suburban is all new from stem to stern. Based on the same chassis as the new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, the Suburban boasts styling wholly different from the truck, an interior that's easily best-in-class, and a host of technology new to GM's big SUVs.
Driving Impressions The 2015 Suburban benefits from a host of new technologies to improve the driving experience. Foremost among these are Magnetic Ride Control, available on the top-line LTZ trim levels. The...... system uses high-tech shock absorbers that can adjust their stiffness depending on road conditions, smoothing out rough surfaces while still preventing too much body lean in corners. "Nimble" is too strong a word, but "carlike" isn't too far off. The new Suburban is quieter as well, and even at highway speeds we were able to maintain a conversation without a single "What?" or "Speak up!" The upgraded 5.3-liter V8 engine delivers enough power to make acceleration and passing afterthoughts, albeit at the expense of fuel economy in the low- to mid-teens. Then there's parking: Chevy went to considerable lengths to make the Suburban more maneuverable, but its considerable length is always going make parking lots a challenge.
MAGNETIC RIDE CONTROL
Taming the ride characteristics of a 5,800-pound SUV is never easy, but Chevy's Magnetic Ride Control keeps things on the level. The shocks sense road conditions as you drive, adjusting their stiffness to keep the ride smooth, but still control body lean in corners.
With nearly 40 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the third row, the Suburban is the cargo-hauling king of SUVs. Add to that up to 8,300 pounds of towing capacity – plus decent 3rd-row legroom – and you have a remarkably family-friendly cargo-hauler.
The 2015 Suburban's new upscale interior impresses from the moment you sit down, with sweeping curves, high-end materials, and excellent fit and finish making it look more like a luxury sedan than a full-size SUV. The second row's comfortable seats recline, but unfortunately they don't slide fore and aft. The third row has enough footroom and legroom for adults, at least for shorter drives; kids will be fine. A high cargo floor is required to ensure the new flat-fold third row. It's not wasted space though – under the floor is a handy hidden storage area.Exterior
The 2015 Chevy Suburban sports all-new sheet metal, and shares nothing with its pickup truck counterpart for the first time. This let Chevy's stylists stretch their imaginations, literally when you consider how much SUV there is to style. The long lines emphasize the Suburban's length instead of hiding it, and the broad grille makes this big family car look even wider than it really is. Dimensionally, the 2015 Suburban is about the same size as its predecessor – when you're talking about a vehicle this big to begin with, an extra inch here or there doesn't make much of a difference.
All Suburban models come with the same 5.3-liter V8 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, and tons of interior space. Base level LS trims come with cloth seats, Bluetooth for phone and audio, automatic climate control, and rear parking sensors. Step up to the mid-range LT trim to get standard forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning, standard Chevrolet MyLink infotainment, and Bose audio. Full-boat LTZ models add rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot alerts, Magnetic Ride Control, and 20-inch wheels, however you lose the option of a 2nd-row bench, with captain's chairs the only available middle-row seating.
The 2015 Suburban can seat up to nine, if you get an LS trim with the optional front bench seat. Other options include a $2,705 Luxury Package for LT trims, which adds many of the LTZ's luxury touches. A $395 theft protection package adds interior motion sensors, while the $3,305 Sun, Entertainment and Destinations package bundles navigation, a rear-seat entertainment system with Blu-ray, and a power sunroof on LT and LTZ trims. Various 22-inch wheels can be ordered for the LTZ, and later this year, you'll be able to equip the Suburban as a wireless mobile hotspot using 4G LTE.
The 2015 Chevrolet Suburban comes with only one engine this year: a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8. The previous generation's bigger engines have been dropped for the simple reason that very few people bought them. They won't miss those thirstier powerplants though, as this V8 has been significantly upgraded. It features direct injection to improve fuel economy, and increase power and torque. It also has Active Cylinder Management, which imperceptibly shuts off half of the cylinders under certain circumstances to help save fuel. It comes connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission, and 4-wheel drive with a low range is available on all trim levels.
355 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
383 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg (2WD); 15/22 mpg (4WD)
Prices increase across the board by a couple thousand dollars for the 2015 Chevrolet Suburban, although you're getting more for your money. The LS trim starts just over $48,000 for 2-wheel-drive (2WD) models, while mid-range LT models start at about $53,500. Add $3,000 if you want 4WD. The top-line LTZ trims start just under $63,000, and 4WD is an extra $2,000. That's notably more than you'd pay for a Toyota Sequoia or Nissan Armada, but the Suburban is also a lot larger – it's also more expensive than the older and less refined Ford Expedition EL. Check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what other buyers in your area are paying for the 2014 Suburban. Previous generations of the Suburban have low resale values, about the same as its Ford and Nissan rivals, and trailing the Toyota Sequoia.