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SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide

99 CHEVROLET SUBURBAN LS 2WD

By Matt/Bob Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 25,555
Price As Tested                                    $ 33,804
Engine Type                OHV 16-valve 5.7 Liter V8 w/SFI*
Engine Size                                 350 cid/5733 cc
Horsepower                                   255 @ 4600 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               330 @ 2800 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  131.5"/76.7"/219.5"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     4852 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  42.0 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                        P235/75R15X All-terrain
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Eight-passenger/six-door
Domestic Content                                 80 percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
city/highway/average                            14/18/15          
0-60 MPH                                        N/A seconds
Maximum payload                                 1980 Pounds
Maximum towing capacity                         7500 Pounds

* Sequential fuel injection

(Over the past decade, the Hagin test-team has reviewed several Suburbans so they know that they're big. Matt Hagin was impressed with how nimble this Gentle Giant was in traffic but his father Bob was happy he didn't have to park it in downtown San Francisco.)

MATT - There's no such thing as a "small" Suburban but it's pretty amazing how well this big rig can be threaded through traffic. Part of that ability may come from the fact that it's taller than almost anything in town except delivery trucks and busses. The driving position is above the rest of the traffic, so shorter drivers don't get anxiety attacks chauffeuring it around. When you're behind the wheel it's like the panoramic view we experienced when we had the new full-sized Chevy pickup, but from the driver's seat back, it's more like you're piloting a single car garage.

BOB - Checking the wheelbase confirms its huge proportions. It measures over 18 feet long and with combined front and rear overhangs of almost seven feet, and a weight of 4800 pounds, it's still the King of the People Haulers. If you put a couple of passengers in the third row seat, you'll need an bullhorn to talk to them. Our test Suburban seated eight, and if the buyer orders one with the optional bench seat up front, another rider can be accommodated and still wouldn't be cramped. Its 255-horse, 5.7 liter "small-block" V8 in our test rig is OK but it's a little underpowered for this monster. But for those who need to tow something big, there's an optional 454 cubic-inch monster V8 available. It puts out almost 300 horses and way more torque. Either way, Suburban is available with two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive running gear, in either half-ton or three-quarter ton ratings. Transmissions include are a couple of four-speed automatics. The L31 version is standard but the heavy-duty L65 is also available as an option.

MATT - There's another engine available, Dad, and it's made for pulling. A 395 cubic-inch diesel-powered V8 is an option on any of the Suburbans. It gets better fuel mileage than the gas jobs and the torque rating is a whopping 430 pound-feet at only 1800 RPM. Some of the Suburban models in the past have required a couple of acres of pavement to make a U-turn, but a couple of years ago GM engineers changed the suspension up front and now the turning circle has been trimmed down to 45 feet. That's not enough to set a slalom record, but you don't need a man with a red flag to get you into a parking spot at the mall. The ultimate Suburban to have off-road and into the outback would be the 4X4 version, of course, but there's such a minuscule number if SUV owners who take their vehicles out into the underbrush, a two-wheel-drive model is the reasonable selection for most families.

BOB - Unfortunately, we got the fancy version that came with leather upholstery. I'm not a great advocate of leather, especially if the family has little guys who tend to tear up an interior, but I've discovered that the average age of a Suburban buyer is 44. At that spot in life most of their kids are into their teens or beyond. The traditional GM tilt-steering is as slick as ever, although it's antiquated compared to some of the electrically-powered systems I've seen. And for families on the go, Suburban comes ready for towing with trailer wiring and some towing hardware in place.

MATT - The operation of the rear door arrangement on the Suburban has an interesting aspect in that it can be had with either a pair of side-swing "barn doors" in back, or the traditional drop-down tailgate. If the buyer goes for the swinging doors version, he or she has to give up the rear windshield washer and wiper. That combination only comes with the traditional drop-down tailgate and swing-up rear window. Another item that I like is that the optional air conditioning system only comes with front and rear A/C and heat, a plus for people in back.

BOB - The Suburban is big enough to carry a load of passengers in comfort over any terrain. I could get all the grandchildren inside.

MATT - Not legally, Dad. If you take a close count you will see there's 13 of them now.

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