By on October 9, 2018

2018 Chevrolet Suburban RST

5.3-liter Ecotec3 V8 (355 hp @ 5,600 rpm, 383 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm)

Six-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive

15 city / 22 highway (EPA Rating, MPG)

19.3 (observed mileage, MPG)

15.3 city / 10.9 highway (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

12.2 (observed, L/100km)

Base Price: $68,300 US / $76,650 CAD

As Tested: $76,875 US / $86,855 CAD

In some segments, familiarity is a good thing. The General has been the beyond dominant ruler of the king-size SUV segment for ages, ever since its competitors either stopped playing in the field or opted to equip their machines with V6 engines and independent rear suspensions. Both of those features are nobly forward-thinking but have yet to be rewarded by customers who seem to favor things they already know.

Casting a large-and-in-charge shadow, the Suburban you see here is endowed with seating for eight, cargo space best measured in acres, and 22-inch wheels. What’s absent? Oh yeah, a 6.2-liter engine.

Let’s get one thing clear from the start: your author firmly believes all RST-badged Suburbans and Tahoes should be equipped with the mighty 420 hp 6.2L V8 motor. That they are not is the equivalent of raisin cookies masquerading as chocolate chip treats. One bite and you know something’s amiss.

On Premier-trimmed Suburbans, such as the our test unit, the optional RST Edition package adds visual drama in the way of gonzo-sized 22-inch wheels, color-keyed e’rything, and a generally mean appearance. It also adds $2,705 to the truck’s $68,300 base price. What that sum does not include is the 6.2L engine. To gain access to the engine with which I have an admittedly unhealthy fascination, one must also pop for the $2,820 RST Performance package.

2018 Chevrolet Suburban RST

Not that my protestations will have much impact on the sales success of the Suburban and its XXL brothers. GM absolutely dominates the body-on-frame SUV market, with the Chevrolet and GMC tag team accounting for nearly three-quarters of sales in that segment each year. There is absolutely a market for an eight-passenger rig that can also tow 8,000 pounds or more. Most of these fans are ardently loyal, even – some may say especially – the fleet customers.

Inside, the RST will be familiar to Suburban fans. Shown here, it is outfitted with dapper cocoa/mahogany leather-lined Barcaloungers and scads of head- and legroom for passengers. Storage space in the aft section is still quite commodious even with the with the third-row deployed. Folded flat, your author easily found space for bicycles and all manner of detritus for a weekend at the campground.

2018 Chevrolet Suburban RST

With this in mind, be sure to spec the no-charge power folding middle bench in place of the captain’s chairs. Why? Well, with the third row stowed, the Suburban is transformed into an enormous four-passenger conveyance. The middle bench folds and flips with equal ease as the buckets for access to the third row. Your author also thinks more SUVs should have a back hatch pane of glass that opens separately from the liftgate, as on this Suburban.

One observation that escaped me on all other occasions in which I’ve piloted these big brutes is the truck’s proclivity for providing great HVAC performance. In a world where more and more machines wheeze out air conditioning with the force of an asthmatic breathing through a straw, the Suburban deploys giant air vents with which to push forth a volume of air rivalling the gale force northeasterlies which regularly appeared in my hometown. Thanks to the design of the left side window and adjacent air vent, a breeze actually curls around the driver’s neck, acting like the Airscarf in a Mercedes.

2018 Chevrolet Suburban RST

Most touch points are soft and acceptable for this price point, save for a few low-lying bits of plastic covered with strips of leather that are thinner than the tomato slices on a church cold plate. They’re hardly a deal breaker. The cubbyhole behind the infotainment touchscreen is revealed when the screen itself rises up like a walker chasing Rick Grimes in a neat bit of theatre of which I never tired.

Fuel economy was not the apocalyptic nightmare one might expect from a machine of this size, either. The 355 horsepower 5.3L and retro six-speed automatic returned just over 19 mpg (that’s 12.2L/100km measured in maple syrup and hockey sticks) in mixed driving, most of which was in town. The figure was calculated the old fashioned way, using math, rather than relying on the dashboard readout.

2018 Chevrolet Suburban RST

As noted, your author feels the RST trim would have more cachet if its appearance was only available with the 6.2L engine. However, marketers gonna market and I’m sure they’ll sell all the RSTs they can build, big V8 or not. In fact, the RST line has already migrated to the new 2019 Silverado, where it is similarly hewn into a good looking festival of color-keyed trim and comes furnished with ­– gulp – a four-cylinder engine as standard equipment.

Profits from big machines such as the Suburban fuel the engine that drives an automaker such as General Motors. This Premier trim, with 4WD, starts at $68,300. Adding the RST package, sunroof, third-row DVD screen (which flips down from the roof to block your six, by the way), a HUD, and adaptive cruise rings up a bill of $76,875.

2018 Chevrolet Suburban RST

If all you want is to roll around like a Secret Service agent – and embarrass your kid by picking him up from school dressed like one – simply pop for the $56,895 LT trim in 2WD guise and then ladle on the RST package, costing $2,995 in that example. One will then be the proud owner of a machine imbued with legions of amenities that looks largely identical to our tester and has the same 5.3L mill.

Nice and familiar. Job done.

[Images: © 2018 Matthew Guy/TTAC]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

36 Comments on “2018 Chevrolet Suburban Premier RST Review – A Riff on the Familiar...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The availability of the 5.3 V8 (and the TRIPOWER 4 in the Silverado version) is a greater sin than the Malibu RS being 1.5T and CVT only.

    These have become the equivalent of the Cadillac Fleetwood Talisman of yore and should not have small displacement engines available let alone STANDARD.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    $68-86k for this?

    The phrase ‘well-heeled’ (or similar reverse condescension) should appear in this article to describe the buyers of this vehicle, as it commonly does for other cars in this price range. I guess the Chevy badge makes it more socially acceptable.

  • avatar
    jberger

    I have had a brand new Escalade as a rental for the last 10 days.
    Engine is great but it’s wrapped up in a poor package.
    The latest CUE is still a complete abomination, and I have no idea how they can make the outside so large but keep the interior so tight.
    I know these are printing money for GM, but I cannot understand why anyone would pay these prices for one. It’s a very disappointing vehicle given it’s price point.

    • 0 avatar
      ernest

      Worse, GM outsells their competition at these price points (Tahoe, Yukon, Denali & Escalade) COMBINED. Just as Ford discovered the secret sauce for pickups, GM did the same with large luxury SUV’s.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      I tend to agree – I think it’s a useful vehicle, but I don’t see how there’s more than $45k worth of content here. If someone will pay $70k for it, well, great.

      If you can sell one vehicle and make $25k of profit, the temptation must be very strong to simply dispense with selling anything else. (Like Ford is trying to do!) But surely that market is limited, no? Will there be a “comeuppance”?

      • 0 avatar
        ernest

        This isn’t a value segment, any more than large luxury sedans. This is a “I want” as opposed to an “I need” proposition. The value segment is with the minivans.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        The plan is that the comeuppance will mainly affect taxpayers and savers. Maximize privatized gains while you can; apres nous, le deluge….. Has worked so far…..

        I don’t have nearly the animosity towards these that some have (any vehicle one can comfortably sleep in, is OK by me), but between a minivan and a similar length, these days equally comfortable, pickup (with a cap if need be), there’s precious few use cases left for which this is the optimum choice.

    • 0 avatar
      legacygt

      100% correct. I appreciate many things about the large GM SUVs. But I have no idea why they sell as well as they do. The packaging is awful. The interior feels somewhat spacious but given the dimensions of the vehicle it’s downright cramped inside. And the cargo area photo in this article conveniently crops the 3 tiers that you must lift/climb over to get to the cargo area (bumper step, door height, storage bin/floor height). The whole car is a series of compromises. Yes, that’s true for every car. But the compromises in these SUVs are so easy to spot. You’d think that most buyers would look at 3-row crossovers (or even the Expedition/Navigator) and never look back.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    WHY? For a bloated rubberband tired conversion van? For that kind of money, Id get something REALLY head turning and satisfying to own: Like a fully restomodded ’67-72 Blazer, Jeep Wagoneer or Cherokee, Dodge Ramcharger etc. This is nothing but an overpriced under capable cookie cutter rig that’s gonna just blend in with all the rest.

  • avatar
    gtem

    19MPG is mighty impressive for this big boy. I’ll complain about this to no end: the way they achieved an “easy” fold-flat third/second row ate up an immense amount of interior room.

    • 0 avatar
      legacygt

      Agreed. The mpg on these is pretty great. Look at the mpg people get in things like the Land Rover Discovery.

      Agreed. The way they achieved the fold flat seats is inexcusable. They just raised the floor in the back with a silly cargo tray. This causes a three-tier liftover to get stuff into the cargo area. It looks cheap. It’s lazy engineering. Not sure how they get away with this in cars in this price range (let alone the Escalade).

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        And that’s why there are prototypes running around with IRS so that they can engineer a proper fold flat 3rd row.

        • 0 avatar
          legacygt

          An IRS would go a long way to addressing some of the packaging concerns. There would be tradeoffs such as towing capability. Still, I’m not sure that this is the path they should be taking. GM also has decent three row vehicles with more useful packaging. The Traverse, Enclave and (slightly smaller) Acadia handle this segment nicely. Each would be good alternative for many buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Agreed – my grandparents had a long series of Suburbans starting with a 3dr in the early ’70s through a couple of diesels in the ’80s. I took my driving test in the last of the diesels. 19mpg is pretty amazing – the 140(?) hp diesel barely got that on the highway. The previous V8s got 10, at best – single digits when towing.

      But it is also amazing how tiny inside the current Suburban is compared to those old beasts. I;ve been in a few Ubers and the back seat is nothing to get excited about. It’s really low to the floor and uncomfortable to me. Leg room is adequate, but no more than that.

      And really, how can the 5.3 possibly not be enough power?? We got by just fine with that old diesel, even towing a gigantic camper (which is why they had Suburbans in the first place). Put your [email protected] foot to the floor and keep it there until sufficient speed is achieved. Or you get where you are going, whichever comes first! This isn’t a sports car.

      Then there is the price – they weren’t exactly cheap back in the day, but they have gone plaid at this point.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    The only real question is: How much more is an RST than an LTZ? Suburbans and Corvettes could arguably be the best GM makes. The Suburban will get more repeat buyers than a Corvette.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    These beasts aren’t built for fun, they’re built for serious towing and hauling. So, if you’ve got a 25′ boat/travel trailer and a family greater then 4, this is the vehicle for you. If you’re looking for a mall-crawler, just keep looking

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Greater than 5. As in, 6 to 7 or 8. Crew- and megacabs do 3 abreast more conveniently than benching junior in the trunk nowadays. Beyond 7 or 8, the NV becomes much less limiting.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        The Tahoe/Burb/Yukon is the last full-size SUV that does still have a front 40/20/40 “bench” option ($250 credit, IIRC) for 9-passenger seating, but it’s only on the lowest trim. And not only do you have to deal with the transmission hump like in a pickup, the dash also juts out into knee space as well:

        https://i.imgur.com/wi62D6D.jpg

        On the plus side, it does come in brown.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    As an owner of an 08′ version of the above (2LT black) the want is great here, bit wont happen. 120k and rolling strong.

    I have a family of 4 and had mine loaded too many times to count with either people, gear, building materials or some combination of the above. For us, their is no better vehicle,and yes i had a minivan prior to. The suburban does more and gets essentially the same mpg as the van that I had (05′ t&c).

    Gonna end with, if you rented one and seemn to have a hard time driving or parking one perhaps keep that to yourself. My spouse drove it as her car for 5 years prior to me taking it and always commented about how easy it was to drive and park. Stupid easy to drive and park, evem in the city.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      ” if you rented one and seemn to have a hard time driving or parking one perhaps keep that to yourself. ”

      This, I’ve never understood how some people were allowed to get their license.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        I’ll quibble that length of space/length of vehicle is a legitimate, objective issue when parallel parking. Even if you’re good at parallel parking, a Suburban is going to disqualify you from a higher % of spaces than a smaller vehicle would. And size can make a difference if you’re, say, squeezing between a car in front of you and a parked car on the right in order to turn right on red. Counterpoint: These things tend to be non-factors in the exurbia in which much (most?) of America lives these days.

        That said, I agree with Hummer’s “I’ve never understood how some people were allowed to get their license” comment. It’s stunning to me how many drivers struggle with staying within a single lane or successfully parking their vehicle in a diagonal spot.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    No dog in this fight (at the moment), but cursory examinations of this and the Ford made me wonder if I’d even bother test driving the Chevy.

    Far more volume in the back with the rear seat folded (thank you IRS) and far more low-end torque for towing our 5k trailer.

    Cue the “I’d never trust them turbo engines” commenters, I suppose.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      For heavier tongue weights and heavy duty towing, the Ford’s IRS comes into question versus a traditional solid axle.

      • 0 avatar
        shane_the_ee

        In theory perhaps. Where it gets complicated is that the GM trucks have less payload available and lower RAWR. And the payload problem gets worse if you get the 6.2L which also saddles you with the 3.23 rear axle. And in the 1/2 SUV class, the payload and rear weight ratings will be the towing limitation…

  • avatar
    DEVILLE88

    These are all we older americans that grew up in the era of luxo barges have left. i for one love these suv’s. they are dead reliable, tough as all get out, and in the Caddy clothes…………..King of the hill!!!

  • avatar
    crtfour

    I like naturally aspirated V8 body on frame SUV’s. I’m young and could care less about crossovers and lifestyle activity vehicles or whatever they are called these days. At this price on paper, the Infiniti with it’s V8 would be hard to pass up, but perhaps the Suburban drives better?

    One thing on these vehicles that I’ve noticed and now hard to unsee is the gigantic wheels but small brake rotors. They may all stop the same but especially if something is mentioned as a sport option or is designed for towing, at least offer some Brembo’s or similar that look the part.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Or you could just get wheels that aren’t fashion-victim sized and put tires with a higher profile than 45 on them. And improve the ride and handling considerably in the process. About 4-5″ smaller in diameter should do the trick (smallest that will clear the calipers). Those brakes are huge, just the wheels are stupid.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    Those wheels, wow! It’s a reasonably OK looking vehicle but those wheels are seriously ugly and would have to go if I ever was looking at one. what was/is wrong with silver painted or machined, or black five spoke wheels? It seems like over the last couple of years the wheel designs have gone into the crapper along with the rest of car design in many cases.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • bd2: Also, even with the increase in production to 100k for the Telluride, that still has to supply Canada and the...
  • highdesertcat: I’m very happy with the steps the current US government is taking in balancing fair trade, and I...
  • bd2: Neither Kia nor Hyundai has the production capacity of what Ford has for the Explorer. For the 2Q of 2019, the...
  • highdesertcat: NormSV650, there’s such a thing as aftermarket coolants like Zerex and other brands that are...
  • ToolGuy: Ford did model changeover in 2019 (were there any hiccups? I don’t remember). Anyway, Ford has nothing...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber