2015 Chevrolet Suburban. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Paul Williams
Gaspe, Quebec – Back in 1934, “suburban” was a new and modern word. It conjured up a place where you could escape the noise of the city, retreating to the tree-lined alternative of quiet streets, tidy homes and friendly neighbours.
Of course, you’d need a vehicle to get you there, and General Motors had just the thing: the all-new Chevrolet Suburban. With it you could transport the family, haul your cargo, take a trip and bring your friends. You could even use it commercially.
Over time, suburbia endured and grew, and so did the Suburban. It’s now the oldest nameplate in the industry, celebrating its 80th year with the 12th-generation 2015 model.
Along the way, Suburban acquired a little brother, the Tahoe. And while the Tahoe is a vehicle of prodigious size and substance in its own right, the Suburban retains its role as the originator, the archetype, the one to have if you’re going to go big.
Starting at $55,855 for the LS 4WD version, the price rises to $60,545 for the LT 4WD and $70,785 for the top-level LTZ 4WD.
For 2015 the Chevrolet Suburban rides on a new perimeter box frame with a 14-inch longer wheelbase than the Tahoe. It’s powered with the same 5.3L V8 engine, though, an EcoTec3 dedicated truck engine built for power and fuel economy. The “3” in EcoTec3 refers to its direct fuel injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation. It makes 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with TapShift control, Tow/Haul mode and auto grade braking.
The objective with the 2015 Suburban, according to Chevrolet executives, is to maintain the utility but to raise the bar on ride comfort, refinement and fuel economy. Fully 55 percent of Suburban buyers have children in the household, and this year Suburban gets the full range of new safety technologies along with a new interior and additional creature comforts.
The safety comes in the form of crash avoidance and driver assistance technologies including radar, camera and ultrasonic sensors to monitor the front, side and rear of the vehicle, and systems to help absorb energy from impact, including an airbag between the front seats to protect front passengers in the event of a side collision. Post-crash occupant protection includes automatic crash response, automatic fuel sender shutoff, automatic door unlock and automatic flashers.
2015 Chevrolet Suburban seating & cargo area. Click image to enlarge
Systems like lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, side blind-zone alert, adaptive cruise control, front park assist and forward collision alert are all new to Suburban for 2015, but safety is also enhanced simply by being more stable and responsive on the road. To this end, engineers increased front-end structural stiffness, redesigned and retuned the hydraulic engine mounts for improved isolation and damping, fitted electric power steering to more precisely tune responsiveness and installed new tires developed for better handling, fuel economy and stopping. An option is GM’s latest Magnetic Ride Control, designed to adapt suspension and ride to changing road surfaces and conditions.
The exterior is smoother, more aerodynamic. No exterior sheet metal panels or lighting elements are shared with Chevrolet’s full-size pickups. The doors are inlaid to fit into the body side openings, instead of over top of the body as found in previous generations. The result is a quieter cabin and better aerodynamics, according to Chevrolet. The hood and liftgate feature aluminum panels to reduce overall mass. Projector-beam headlamps are standard and flank the chrome Chevrolet dual-port grille. High-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and light-emitting diode (LED) daytime running lamps are standard on the LTZ model.
2015 Chevrolet Suburban gauges & centre stack. Click image to enlarge
Inside, premium materials and enhanced ergonomics demonstrate the Tahoe and Suburban’s blend of sophistication, craftsmanship and function. A new instrument panel houses an available eight-inch color touchscreen with a secured storage bin behind the motorized screen. The compartmentalized centre console is large enough to store a laptop or iPad. There’s more room for second and third row occupants, with second-row passengers gaining 50 mm (two inches) more legroom, along with easier entry/exit. Front-seat occupants are treated to a sleek new instrument panel and faux aluminum and wood trim. Up to six USB ports and six power outlets are available, including a 110-volt “household” outlet. A rear-seat entertainment system with dual screens and Bluray DVD player is also available. Keyless entry and push-button start complete the list of amenities.