By on October 27, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Suburban

When people saw me in the 2017 Chevrolet Suburban last week, resplendent in black-on-black leather, they typically had one of a few reactions:

My God, why is that thing so big?”

“Why did you rent such a huge vehicle?”

“Roberto? Wait, you’re not my UberXL driver?”

In all three cases, they weren’t wrong to ask. When I stepped into the rental car garage at Miami International Airport this weekend, I was faced with three options.

  1. Dodge Journey
  2. Ford Expedition EL
  3. Chevrolet Suburban LT

Having just recently rented the Expedition in Raleigh, and not ever wanting to put myself through the joyless exercise of driving a Journey again, I opted for the mighty GM. It is, dare I say, an elegant vehicle, typically reserved for doing important things like shuttling the members of the President’s security detail around or picking up large groups of people from the airport (Hi, are you my UberXL? STILL NO). It’s also one of the most expensive vehicles you’ll ever find on rental row — a Suburban LT, optioned exactly like mine, starts at $56,575 at your neighborhood Bowtie dealer.

It’s also one of the very few General Motors products that is universally regarded as being extremely well done. The Suburban has no competition, merely people who accidentally wandered into the neighboring Ford lot and somehow winded up buying an Expedition. The ‘Burb outsells the Expedition by a margin of over 2 to 1, and it didn’t take long for me to figure out why.

img-1375

Space is plentiful throughout, which comes as no surprise. What was somewhat surprising, however, was the quality of material throughout the cabin. While GM seems challenged with interiors on passenger cars, it seems to get it right in the larger, BOF SUVs. The leather seating surfaces combined a sense of luxury with impressive durability — my rental had over 20k miles on the clock, but one would never have known it from the degree of interior wear. Chevy gets this right in the same way that Ford gets it so very, very wrong. An Expedition with 20,000 miles looks like it’s done time fighting ISIS. Not so with the Suburban.

Forward visibility from the driver’s seat leaves much to be desired. The rather vertical and surprisingly small windshield, combined with the massive hood, means items have a tendency to simply disappear in front of the Suburban. While my rental was equipped with front and rear parking assist, my Generation X eyes still want to be able to see any potential obstacles.

2017 Chevrolet Suburban CarPlay

The Suburban offers that just-right combination of old-world reliability and functionality with a dash of modern technology. While Apple CarPlay was a bit fussy in my rental (only worked with one of two USB ports, and only then after unplugging and replugging the cable a few times), it’s a pleasant addition to the rest of the Suburban’s dash, which mostly looks like, well, this:

2017 Chevrolet Suburban dash

The Suburban has one of the more archaic dashboards in any vehicle that can be purchased in 2017. This wouldn’t be quite so odd except for the fact that the Suburban/Tahoe/Escalade Holy Trinity underwent a redesign in 2015. If I airlifted you directly into the driver’s chair, you might suspect that the big Chevy was actually a 2007 model, not a 2017. Everything from the dials to the transmission selector on the steering rack just seems a tad archaic.

However, as I mentioned above, this feels just right. It all works, in a manner that horse farm owners and livery drivers alike have become accustomed to over the last two decades. Using the stalk to place the six-speed automatic transmission into Drive creates a thunk that can only be described as “satisfying.” When mated with the direct-injected, Bozi Tatarevic-Approved® EcoTec3 5.3-liter V8, the transmission never seems to find itself in the wrong gear. Grunt and power are instantly available throughout the powerband, thanks to a 355 horsepower rating and 383 lb-ft of torque.

Unfortunately, there are a few other thunks to be found when driving the Suburban, and they come directly from the suspension. My rental example was not equipped with the optional Premium Ride Suspension, and as such, every speed bump was met with an audible “oof” from the guts of any and all passengers. On the relatively decent roads of Miami-Dade County, this is an inconvenience. In Detroit, it would cause curvature of the spine.

It goes without saying, of course, that the Suburban is downright gargantuan, and when trying to navigate urban streets and highways, the driver feels every inch of its size. Lane Change Alert, along with Lane Keep Assist, both got a serious workout in SoFlo. While Miami is no New York when it comes to Urban Traffic Combat, the Suburban can only make headway in the city by announcing its intention with a brief turn signal, and then by making an obvious, purposeful move into an adjoining lane while other drivers scatter. In Miami, nobody lets you in. The Suburban lets itself in, taking its rightful place at the top of the food chain amongst the glittering luxury vehicles.

The combined fuel economy this rental saw over the course of its life was 17.3 mpg, and I didn’t fare much better, averaging about 18.5 mpg around the streets of South Florida. To be fair, this is roughly the gas mileage I get out of my Ford Focus RS, which has almost exactly the same amount of power and isn’t shoving around nearly as much weight.

2017 Chevrolet Suburban

I cannot overstate, though, just how visually impressive I found the Suburban to be. If only GM could get the rest of its lineup to be this right. It’s masculine, but not toxic. It’s subtle, but it has presence. It looks equally at home in front of the EPIC Hotel and Keeneland Race Course. Panel gaps are nonexistent. Paint quality is flawless. Exterior accents are tasteful. The only thing my rental needed to look even better was a less utilitarian wheel selection, and Chevrolet has no shortage of optional wheels from which the potential Suburban intender may choose. If the Chevrolet SS had looked more like a Suburban, and less like a Cruze, maybe it would be on its way to a second generation instead of oblivion.

As a matter of fact, as I’ve said before, if GM could do passenger cars as well as it does full-sized trucks, it would be king of the automotive hill. The Suburban is expensive, yes, but it’s a halo vehicle, and halo vehicles should be expensive. Furthermore, that fifty large will prove to be money well spent when you’re still driving it fifteen years from now. The Suburban is the pinnacle of vehicles that TTAC readers have been saying for years that they want — low key, understated but excellent, the ultimate Q ship. It’s the chosen method of transport for the truly wealthy in Flyover Country.

Yes, there are some outdated bits, and the base suspension is not pleasant, but there’s a reason that a Suburban from 2017 functions and looks much like a Suburban from 1997. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

And the Chevrolet Suburban definitely ain’t broke. I love it.

[Images: Mark “Bark M.” Baruth/The Truth About Cars]

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87 Comments on “Rental Review: 2017 Chevrolet Suburban LT – It Definitely Ain’t Broke...”


  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    It’s the only GM I would ever buy…along with its baby brothers the Yukon/Tahoe, which I’ve also owned and was very pleased with. GM gets big SUVs right.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    You could drive one of these to the local Maserati / whatever dealer, and when they see you, they’ll let you take one of their cars for a test drive no questions asked.

    The ultra rich, who buy these because they need an unpretentious hauler fairly often, seem to buy these more often than the merely rich, who might bag or race the demo car.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “Furthermore, that fifty large will prove to be money well spent when you’re still driving it fifteen years from now.”

    The sticker is more like high-fifties with leather and 4wd, and well into the sixties if you add common options like sunroof, nav, etc…but that’s a quibble.

    I’m not a truck guy, and I don’t have any need for a vehicle that’s as large as the battlestar Galactica, but I do admire the job GM has done with these big SUVs. They’re great vehicles.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I think we’re missing a More Tag here, so the whole article appears on the homepage.

    I agree with your assessment of the Suburban and—especially living in suburban Oklahoma City, where such a vehicle is practical—I admire the model. It’s worth noting that the Yukon Denali does give you a more-impressive instrument cluster, but that’s an expensive upgrade. The suspension and its rear solid axle probably doesn’t do your back any favors, but it lasts a lot longer than the softer-sprung independent rear suspensions on other models, namely those of FoMoCo.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I rode in a 15 Suburban for 60 miles each way with a foursome in my loosely organized golf league. I sat in front passenger seat pushed almost all the way back while the other two sat in the second row with plenty of leg room. The four golf bags were easily handled by the trunk with the third row of seats up.
    I found the ride on the highway to be both quiet and composed at 70-80 mph. Agreed that the General knows how to make a large SUV.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Tahoe Custom 4WD with bench seat, tow package, and floor liners for under $49k available this year.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Put me on record as stating (again) that the day that I win the lottery the first purchase that I make is a Suburban.

    Remember years ago reading an article on auto ‘journalists’ driving some exotic cars cross country. Each and every one looked forward to the time spent driving one of the Suburbans that accompanied their convoy. To paraphrase, ‘it conveys you and your passengers in as much luxury, with as much presence and at the same time can carry all of their valuable possessions’.

    Add in the low depreciation and proven extended usable life and it is proof of what GM is capable of achieving but seems incapable of doing consistently.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Great review Bark! The Tahoe/Suburban are two of the few GMs I would ever consider. The only options I’d want are all the safety devices and a sunroof – alas options come in expensive packages. No running boards though – I just can’t get over running boards. Always spoil a design for me…..

  • avatar
    mikey

    I would buy a Tahoe/Yukon in a heartbeat. I could live with its thirst. The deal breaker for me, is size. 90% of my driving is urban..I’m pushing 64 years of age. I’m just not comfortable driving something that big.

    I do agree GM is at its best building BOF trucks, in all configurations. I am so disappointed with GM not using the Canyon as a platform for a smaller version Tahoe/ Yukon.

    Dave.. me too.. I hate running boards with a passion.

    • 0 avatar
      turbosasquatch

      It’s worse than you think. GM does have a Tahoe equivalent based on the Colorado/Canyon, they just don’t sell it in the US.

      The Trailblazer is apparently pretty popular in its markets. I have no idea why they don’t sell it here.

      https://goo.gl/images/buzMVj

  • avatar
    threeer

    Where I am, ahem, assigned I see quite a few new Tahoes and Yukons (with a few Suburbans tossed in, but mostly the “smaller” variants). The new models are really, really nice. I personally prefer the front end treatment of the Chevy over the GMC. Having ridden in a few of them, the interior really is top-notch. If some of that love would have flowed down to my plebian Cruze (okay, so my Cruze is a ’13 model, but it IS the LT2 with RS appearance package, leather and sunroof, so it isn’t all bad), it’d be downright dy-no-mite. Usually, halo cars provide trickle-down benefits to lesser models. Let’s hope that’s the case with these.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The Suburban has one of the more archaic dashboards in any vehicle that can be purchased in 2017. This wouldn’t be quite so odd except for the fact that the Suburban/Tahoe/Escalade Holy Trinity underwent a redesign in 2015. If I airlifted you directly into the driver’s chair, you might suspect that the big Chevy was actually a 2007 model, not a 2017. Everything from the dials to the transmission selector on the steering rack just seems a tad archaic.

    No no no. That is absolutely a feature and not a bug. Look at that dash. Volts, Engine Temp, Fuel Gauge, Oil Pressure, and available column shift. GM please give us that dashboard in the Canyon/Colorado (just fuel and engine temp, seriously?) and in the Impala and Lacrosse – I don’t care if the reviews ask you if it is 1967 all over again. Real Americans need to know more than speed and how full the tank is.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      My name is Arthur Dailey and I approve the above comment. And I think that I watched too many paid political advertisements.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      +1 million to Dan.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      One of the nice things about LCD gauges is that you could, in theory, have any metric you want displayed. Need oil pressure? Battery voltage? Mileage in estimated furlongs per hog’s head? All there.

      The column shifter can stay dead, though.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @psarhjinian: But you would have to take your eyes off the road to press some button/swipe some screen (arrrgh) to scroll to what you want to see. And probably too late. With analogue dials permanently displaying this information, you can monitor it constantly and easily.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          There’s a reason that back in the 60s-70s one of the Big 3 referred to the full instrumentation as “Flight Command” (I think it was Chrysler.)

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          “But you would have to take your eyes off the road to press some button/swipe some screen”

          No, I mean:
          * An LCD screen where the speedo/tach cluster is now
          * You set it once and it remains your default.

          If you get a chance, have a look at an Android app called “Torque”. It’s ugly, but the principal is sound.

          • 0 avatar
            Carzzi

            “If you get a chance, have a look at an Android app called ‘Torque’. It’s ugly, but the principal is sound.”

            I love the Torque app. Also, the principal is Dan. And he’s (I hope) not ugly.

    • 0 avatar
      tylermattikow

      Hate the digital dashes that have permeated modern cars. I don’t see them as more modern, rather they are a cost cutting measure.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      How many drivers nowadays have any idea what those additional gauges are communicating? Heck, about the only value of a tachometer for most people is to let them know whether or not the engine is running.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      Moreover, that gauge cluster (whoops, I meant “gage” in traditional GM fashion) is pretty much a carbon copy of the F-150 Raptor’s seen elsewhere on the site today. Just ditch the chrome rings and change the font – heck, even most of the indicator positions are identical.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I have no need of any of that in gauges. There is a perfectly fine computer paying FAR more attention to such things than I ever will, since I am busy driving the car. If there is an issue, give me a nice, English, warning message on the info display. Plus modern gauges are so damped they might as well be idiot lights anyway. It’s all going to look perfectly fine right until it’s not.

      But count me among those who love the Suburban. It does what it does superbly, and if you need one nothing else will do the same things. I grew up with a long succession of them, even took my license test in one.

      Oddly enough, I rode from Austin to Houston on Wednesday in the back of an Expedition. Pool car for my energy company client. They definitely ride better than the GMs, and it was quite nice inside despite 40K of company car use and a light tan interior. So based on a sample-size of one not sure what Bark is on about there. Can also attest that the TX State Troopers were doing a brisk business Wednesday, glad it was not me driving…

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      it is the same set up my 15 F150 has and incidentally, the new Raptor reviewed a few stories above. Yes it works and is easy to read. No it doesn’t need changed. I would like a trans temp gauge in this sort of rig, but I assume you can display it on the display panel when towing.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “I would like a trans temp gauge in this sort of rig, but I assume you can display it on the display panel when towing.”

        My 2007 ‘Hoe display trans temp in the DIC(Driver Information Center) & I’m sure this one does too.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      Yup. I just got a ’12 Yukon to replace the 15-year-old Envoy we use for our business. We also use it to tow cars around, and those oil pressure and voltmeter gauges come in handy when you’re yanking a 7500-lb trailer over the Grapevine on I-5 in the middle of the night.

      I was delighted to find that you can also get the computer to tell you the transmission oil temp. These things are built for towing in a way that other large SUVs just aren’t.

  • avatar
    MartyToo

    Same question as a couple of days ago. Are these (and Tahoes) having quality issues as a famous but unnamed in print advertising Consumer Report(ing) magazine has supposedly aggregated from its reader polling?

  • avatar
    dingo426

    If it had a diesel, the Suburban and the Tahoe would be a even bigger hit in countries of Latin America and even in some places in Europe.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    This is one of the rare occasions that I completely agree with you. Last year I took us three plus my son in law and his two kids to check out the bloom in death valley so I rented a suburban. With six people and speeding across the desert at 80-85 it still managed almost 20 mpg which I think is kinda amazing. I have no need to own such a large vehicle but when I need to move more than just my family of three I just rent one and enjoy it.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Own an Avalanche LTZ with the air suspension etc. etc. – yes previous GMT900 truck but everything stated applies. 100K miles, looks like the day it was bought inside and out. No rattles, gets 15-1/2 combined despite weighing 6000 pounds and slogging through Seattle traffic. I prefer the looks of the previous generation.

    GM does BOF right and the current gen, despite eye watering prices, are even better. Wish they hadn’t axed the Avalanche, but get why they had to/did.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “Own an Avalanche LTZ with the air suspension etc. etc. – yes previous GMT900 truck”

      For my eyes the GMT-900 is the sharpest looking Chevy to ever wear the Tahoe badge.

      Have to blast GM though for the piss poor design of sticking that air compressor on the frame rail behind the left rear wheel with little to no protection. The original on my 2007 looked like it had been through a nuclear holocaust after 8 salty MN winters. There was literally nothing left of it when I pulled it out. No wonder it wasn’t working. Hope they fixed that with the current gen. I know they amounted them the exact same way on the GMT-800s.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    GM used to do cars as well as RWD, BOF trucks, back when their cars were also RWD, BOF, and V8 powered, back in the 1970s. The Suburban may seem gargantuan, but it’s the same size as those 1970s cars, only taller.

    In fact, some models of Cadillac, Lincoln and Chrysler of 1974-75 vintage were even bigger. If they could have gotten the mileage the Suburban gets now, they might not have stopped making them! Adjusted for inflation, gasoline today costs the same as it did in 1974.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    If the Chevy SS had looked more like a Suburban it would look like the Chrysler 300! This review just proves Detroit really can only build big body on frame vehicles really well! They’ve never been able to deliver a good small car from the Motor City.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      GM, Ford, and FCA wouldn’t build small cars at all except for the way CAFE is structured. Small cars sell for small prices in the US and UAW-related overhead makes them expensive to build. The small price vs. high manufacturing costs is solved with cheap interiors and squeezing part suppliers to deliver the lowest price parts that can survive the warranty period.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “GM, Ford, and FCA wouldn’t build small cars at all except for the way CAFE is structured.”

        The way CAFE has been structured since 2011 actually discourages small cars. It’s not like it was prior where small car volume could be used to offset big SUVs. Small cars have to meet their own adjusted standard where the bar is much higher than a truck. This is a big reason why every maker is turning their small cars in to small SUVs.

        This is why FCA got out, Ford will be to an extent, and GM farms out most of the work on them to Korea. The only reason Ford and GM will still maintain offerings in C-D cars is market share.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Correct, as they lost the small car market in the 70s/80s and will never regain it.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Not true! The Dart/Valiant were good small cars, the Mustang was built on the Falcon platform, and the first GTO was built on the compact Tempest frame. They all grew to what today would be considered midsize, and the lowest priced models were bare bones, but the drivetrains were solid, especially the Dart/Valiant, which still ran reliably while door handles, interior panels, headliners, seat covers, and knobs broke. By the early 1970s, the interiors were much better, especially the higher trim models.

      • 0 avatar
        MartyToo

        I agree. My family had a Falcon and two six cylinder Mustangs. No problems with any of these. 61, 64 1/2 and 67. Simple compact boxes. My buddy had a Dart in college whose engine was solid 10 years out of the factory.

        Vegas and Pintos not.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      No, but the outsourced ones (Euro-developed Fiesta, Korea-developed Cruze) are quite competitive.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “They’ve never been able to deliver a good small car from the Motor City.”

      Yes they have, it’s called a Chevy Volt. Although it’s based on a Daewoo so you could maybe argue that point.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Bingo!

    My 1984 BOF, RWD, V8 Buick LeSabre Limited was, by a considerable margin, the best car I have ever owned. Three hundred thousand kilometers with only fluid changes, tire and brake renewals and five water pumps. Safe, comfortable and reliable. Did 30 mpg (imperial) on the highway with four passengers and their luggage. If GM still made ’em I would still be driving one.

  • avatar
    MLS

    The current generation’s interior was a massive leap forward, but I prefer the prior generation’s cleaner exterior styling. Still haven’t warmed up to the weirdly notched/split 2015+ headlights.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I was on a work trip to Breckenridge (I know….tough) and was given one of these as a rental. It felt so incredibly massive. I hated driving it, I hated parking it, and was so happy to turn that in. I know some can justify a car like this, but never ever will I consider buying one.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I also rented one from Denver to go in a ski trip to Breck last year. Mine could have been the same truck as this one. “Premier” trim line. We loved it. I’ve always been partial to the ‘Burb, but even through the impartial glasses of my wife, this truck did everything right. Loaded to the gunwales, I experienced my first auto braking event. Never knew it was there until one incident on I70 coming out of the Eisenhower tunnel.

      Funny Bark should mention the thunk of the shifter – I kind of made a mental note of this sound in my mind at the time. Felt good, too. Frankly the detail work on this truck would be hard to eclipse by anybody. It really was well done. I like the dash and even if the computer is monitoring everything, I have saved engines in the past by noting the creep of the temperature guage even if it was still in the high-normal range. This truck even handles far better than its mass would suggest. Well done GM. Hard to believe that this came from the same company that once built the Lumina.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    the $64,000 question is why can’t Cadillac design for its customers like the Tahoe/Yukon/Suburban do for theirs.

  • avatar
    hamish42

    How is it that a company which has a design/production group that can produce such an excellent vehicle can not cross-pollinate that excellence into the other offerings in its catalogue?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times. I think, ultimately, designing a BOF truck is just a different skill set than designing a passenger car is. Of course, I have no idea if the folks behind Suburban have ever been ASKED to design a car. Maybe they should be?

      • 0 avatar
        mmreeses

        my wild ass guess is mentality/personality.

        Luxury brands feel like they attract smug, snotty, ego-driven, vision-driven, I know what’s best for my customer types. They can be brillant or destroy/deaden a team’s dynamic with their personality.

        I’d imagine the Tahoe/Suburban/Yukon team as a group of a folks who say “let’s get our hands dirty and get it done”

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      The Corvette and Silverado get GM “special sauce”. The rest of the GM lineup? Not so much.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      BOF SUVs are the highest margin units that the General makes, and at good volume. It’s no surprise they invested heavily in them.

  • avatar

    If I had $65k kicking around I’d buy one in a heartbeat. My employer has a fleet of these; both current model and GMT900 (whose styling I prefer as well.) They drive like a bank vault. Even in fleet-special trim, they’re solid and secure, like something built to last 400k miles.

    Speaking of which, my 2002 Tahoe LT Autoride’s halfway there, having turned over 200k last week.

    And those “old tech” pushrod LS-series engines are said to themselves have a 400k lifecycle with regular maintenance.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    “transmission selector on the steering rack”

    LOL u mean COLUMN SHIFTER bruh. Only way to shift a ‘Burb.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    wow, I literally had the same rental this week in KC, other than I had a Tahoe. Black on black etc. The Tahoe and Burb are rental lot lottery winners. I always take one if National has one available. I DD a 08′ Suburban, so the size obviously is not a bother. They drive great, get great MPG, are quiet and great highway haulers. IMHO they are the most versatile car you can buy and absolutely the one car in my fleet I would keep if I had to liquidate.

    As for the dash layout, please don’t change a thing. It works, tells me what I need to know in an easy to read logical fashion that does not require some stupid mouse like device next to the arm rest. I really like the column shift as well and will be irritated if they decide to use up the center area for a shifter.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    Only two ways to make this better…

    0. Put in the 6.2
    1. Pull off the cap

  • avatar
    Spartan

    So much this. SO MUCH THIS. I own a ’16 Yukon XL Denali and I absolutely concur. We’re extremely happy with our purchase. These vehicles are just that good.

    We took a family trip to Maui and I asked for a GM full sizer, but none were available. Instead, they gave me an Expedition EL. Quickly I saw why the GM SUVs outsell them. What an awful vehicle the Expedition is. Interior is terrible, sound system is terrible, and the infotainment system is terrible. My rental Expy had 30k on the clock and it too looked like it had a fight with ISIS. The EcoBoost V6 with the 6AT also did a lot of gear hunting compared to our Yukon.

    I’m not sure we will ever upgrade to the Escalade ESV, but if GM keeps this same formula, I surely will buy another Yukon XL Denali. For a family with two kids, two dogs, likes comfort, space and tows occasionally, there isn’t a better vehicle on the market.

  • avatar
    david42

    At the rental counter, I was recently given the choice of a Suburban or Expedition EL. I had to haul 6 people + luggage from San Francisco to Yosemite, so I chose the Ford. The IRS helped me play chauffeur along windy and bumpy roads; I think it also allows more space for 3rd-row passengers and cargo. The turbo engine meant we never lost power at high altitudes. Also, everyone appreciated the view out of the tall windows.

    Having said that, the interior looked like a worn-out cozy coupe (40k miles) and the steering was unpredictable and vague. Several years ago, I rented a GMT900 Suburban, and it was almost sporty–especially compared to the spongy Expedition.

    Bonus (not specific to the Ford): I also drove it in LA, and it was a much more pleasant experience than my typical sedan rental there. Other drivers gave a wide berth to the big, black, dark-tinted SUV. It’s a perfect illustration of why we’re stuck in an escalading SUV arms-race (see what I did there?)…. we could save a ton of gas and be almost as safe if SUVs were as rare as they used to be before the 1990s.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      I own a Ford truck, but having driven both this and the Expedition I agree 100 percent with you which is wired because when it comes to the trucks they are based on it is a complete 180.

  • avatar
    Hank

    “My God, why is that thing so big?”

    “Why did you rent such a huge vehicle?”

    “Roberto? Wait, you’re not my UberXL driver?”

    I’ll take”Questions you’ll never hear about a Suburban in Texas for $200, Alex.

  • avatar
    FThorn

    Tall and wide men appeal.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      John Wayne mentioned something like that about GM’s 1960s-1970s full size, RWD cars. Of course, when you’re 6’4″ and 260 pounds, and wear cowboy boots, the leg and foot room of those big cars WITHOUT STINKING CONSOLES is much more comfortable.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I just spent 2+ years in Illinois and I can tell you that the affluent are not driving suburban. It’s almost exclusively Porsche, Volvo and Mercedes. Throw in BMW and Range Rovers also. I rarely ever saw new suburbans.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      That’s a certain TYPE of affluent. They won’t buy anything American-made, only European lux, even though they know full well they’re overpriced both in purchase and parts/repair. It’s part of their self-image to be so rich they can throw away money.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    This may be a silly question, but what exactly does the V8 stand for in the instrument cluster? Do they offer a V6 engine or is this displacement on demand and that indicates how many cylinders are operating at any given time? This isn’t a vehicle I would ever have any use for nor could I afford it if I did and so I haven’t really paid much attention to its evolution.

    • 0 avatar
      ptschett

      That’d be the displacement on demand. My granddad’s late-model Silverado has the same cluster / display & says “V4” when in fuel saving mode & “V8” otherwise.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    “The combined fuel economy this rental saw over the course of its life was 17.3 mpg”

    FYI, the trip computer avg FE readouts are typically a 500 mile rolling average.

  • avatar
    jesse53

    I tend to agree w/ this assessment of the build quality. My 2002 Yukon XL has 255k, just drove it from Florida to Cleveland and back. It is the most reliable vehicle I’ve had, original tranny & engine with no repairs to either.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    I must admit I have never considered the Suburban a ‘halo’ vehicle.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    I had two SubHumans: an ’88 and a ’92. The former was a watershed truck in that it now had Fuel Injection (!). The only difference I could discern between it and my ’82 Parisienne wagon was that the ‘Burb started year-round. The latter was a complete ( not really ) redesign of the venerable 1980’s Suburban. It felt like a sports car in comparison to the ’88. Twice, old men in the previous model asked me if the new one was ‘worth it’. I told them both that it was. Weirdly, over all these years, both of my Suburbans; both of my Pontiac wagons; and now my 2007 CTS-V all seem to have the standard GM fuel gauge installed, it would seem: The gauge ever-so-slowly drops from ‘Full’ to just about ‘Half’, lulling you into a sense of high mileage, before suddenly dropping alarmingly towards ‘Empty’ – sometimes in half a day. I hate it like poison but I’ll have another ‘Burb one day.

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