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2016 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ 4WD Review By John Heilig

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MORE CHEVROLET ONLY: Totally Chevrolet

By John Heilig

MODEL: 2016 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ 4WD
ENGINE: 5.3-liter Ecotec V8
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 355 hp @ 5,600 rpm/383 lb.-ft. @ 4,100 rpm
WHEELBASE: 130.0 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 224.4 x 80.5 x 74.4 in.
TIRES: P285/45R22
CARGO: 39.3/76.7/121.1 cu. ft. (behind 3rd row/3rd row seats folded/2nd and 3rd row seats folded)
ECONOMY: 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway/15.3 omg test
FUEL TANK: 31.0 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 5,896 lbs.
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Ford Expedition, Toyota Land Cruiser, Nissan Armada
STICKER: $74,735 (includes $1,195 delivery, $6,750 options)

BOTTOM LINE: Whether for cargo carrying or as a people mover, the Chevrolet Suburban has few peers. Ride quality is very good for long trips and general utility of the interior space is unequalled.

The Chevrolet Suburban is about as politically incorrect as you can get. It is a large vehicle wth a large gas-guzzling engine. But boy, is it practical. Take out the rear seats and you can stuff one of those little hybrid or electric cars in the back to use as a lifeboat.  It’s no secret that our family spent many years traveling around in a large full-size van. This was before minivans were invented. We used it from Girl Scouts through colleges and even spent five weeks tent camping throughout the west. 

The Suburban reminds me of that van. The size is about right and the cargo capacity is just about the same. The big difference is that the Suburban has a longer hood and has doors on both sides (this was a 1979 vintage van). But the driving attitude is almost identical and it’s one that I like. Over the years, improvements in suspension technology and design have resulted in a much smoother ride in the Suburban. Therefore, ride quality is decent. The Suburban is built on a truck chassis, so you don’t expect a Cadillac-smooth ride, but the shocks absorb most of the roads’ bad qualities, and the seats do the rest.

The 5.3-liter Ecotec V8 engine delivers a healthy 355 horsepower and 383 lb.-ft. of torque. Since the Suburban weighs at least 5,896 pounds, don’t expect stirring acceleration. It certainly isn’t neck-snapping, but it’s good enough to keep you out of trouble.

We took the Suburban on my two favorite hillclimb routes. On the one with more gradual curves it did well, but on the one with tighter curves it was a handful. At no time was it dangerous, but this is a narrow two-lane road and in the rain I had to be cautious and aware of who was coming the other way.

It is possible to shift the 6-speed automatic transmission manually using the rocker switch on the column-mounted shifter. This worked well. With the Suburban there’s no need for fast shifting, so the manual mode is probably most useful in 4-wheel drive situations where you might need that extra bit of control.

I grew up driving cars that had full instrumentation - gauges for water temperature, oil pressure, fuel level and battery voltage - so it’s nice when a vehicle like the Suburban is so equipped. The four gauges across the top of the instrument panel were a welcome memory. Because they are virtually identical, it takes a few glances to distinguish one from the other, though.

All three rows of seats have good legroom. In our van, the front wheel housings intruded on front footroom, so this was a great feature not in the Suburban. Access between the second and third rows is good because of second row captain’s chairs. The center console eliminates and possibility of getting to the back from the front seats.

Our tester was loaded with accessories and safety features. The heads up display gives the driver notice of speed without having to look down. Side Blind Zone alert lets the driver know if there are vehicles in the left and right blind spots. Lane Change Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert work well, too. The Safety Alert Seat pulses the left, right or both seat cushions to alert the driver of a dangerous situation. In some cases, getting too close to the ATM machine causes pulsing.

Entry is aided by running boards on both sides and an assist handle on the passenger side A-pillar. The driver can grab the steering wheel.

While the 2015 redesign resulted in a smoother, slightly squarer exterior, the Suburban is an iconic vehicle that has done its job for 80 years, and done it well.

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate

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