The Suburban, Chevrolet’s largest SUV, undergoes numerous small changes for 2005, the most welcome of which is improved fuel economy. A rear liftgate with flip-up glass is standard on all models; there is revised interior trim; OnStar with Gen 6 hardware and upgraded hands-free capability is standard; the assist steps are redesigned; and there are two new exterior colours, Sandstone Metallic and Bahama Blue Metallic. The Z71 off-road package is available on the two-wheel-drive half-ton model; a touch-screen navigation radio is available; there are rear axle ratio changes (3.42 on 1500 half-ton, 3.73 on 2500 three-quarter-ton); a 160-amp alternator is standard on the 1500, 146-amp on the 2500; 17-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels are included on the LT package; an engine oil cooler is available on the 8.1-litre 2500; and a transmission oil cooler is available on 2500 models or half-ton models with a trailer package.

The Suburban is available in half-ton (1500) and three-quarter-ton (2500) configuration, and both can be ordered in two- or four-wheel-drive. Half-ton models come only with a 5.3-litre V8. The standard engine in the 2500 is a 6.0-litre V8, which can be optioned up to an 8.1-litre V8. All use a four-speed automatic transmission.

Two trim lines are available, the LS and LT, and are similarly-equipped regardless of the truck size or driveline. The LS includes fog lights, heated mirrors, roof rack side rails, 16-inch aluminum wheels (17-inch on 2500), variable intermittent wipers, tri-zone manual climate control, colour-keyed carpeting with floor mats, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, cloth interior, 40/20/40 split-bench front seat with six-way power driver adjuster, 60/40 second-row bench seat, third-row folding bench seat, CD/cassette player, automatic headlamps, tire pressure monitor and OnStar.

The LT adds power foldaway mirrors with reverse tilt, puddle lights, integrated turn signals and driver’s side auto dimming, roof rack cross bars, 17-inch aluminum wheels, electronic tri-zone climate control, floor console, HomeLink garage door opener, cargo net and cover, power-adjustable pedals, personalization feature, leather interior, front bucket seats with ten-way power adjust and driver’s side memory, and six-CD changer with second-row audio controls and headphone jacks.

It’s big and bulky, but although the Suburban is a bona-fide truck (it shares its underpinnings and engine with the Silverado), it delivers an ultra-smooth ride that could be mistaken for a large sedan – at least, until you need to make some quick manoeuvres and the reality of its mass kicks in. Properly equipped, it’ll tow up to 5,443 kg (12,000 lbs.), and unlike many three-row vehicles, its third seat will actually hold adults in comparative comfort. The Suburban also appears in GM’s line-up as the Yukon, where it’s a bit cheaper in the two trim lines under the Denali, and as the Cadillac Escalade ESV, where you’ll need another $30,945 to get through the door.

The Suburban is built in Janesville, Wisconsin and Silao, Mexico.

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