HOW’S THE RIDE?
The Suburban includes either a 5.3-liter, V8 engine that offers 355 horsepower, or you can upgrade to a 6.2-liter V8 that produces 420 horsepower. The base engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission, while the upgraded power plant gets a 10-speed auto.
Rear-wheel drive is standard, but you can upgrade to 4WD.
Even with a powerful engine, which is an accurate description of both offerings, the Suburban is definitely a lot of vehicle to move around, somewhat lumbering at times when you first get moving.
But once you are moving the power kicks in nicely and you can maneuver without much issue. The ride is generally quiet inside, with limited outside noise intruding.
Towing capacity is also impressive at a max of 8,300 pounds.
Technology is a key in a vehicle this large. You will likely be transporting lots of people, so options like the rear entertainment system can help keep the peanut gallery -- young or old -- entertained with DVDs on long trips. An in-car wi-fi hotspot is also offered to keep you connected.
Government safety ratings are generally strong (4 out of 5 stars overall), with rollover below the lowest rating at 3 stars.
The Suburban’s infotainment system is among the most well-designed and easy to use in the industry, from music controls to navigation and everything in between, and voice commands work excellently. OnStar is available if you need a hand at any point too.
Among safety features either standard or optional on the Suburban are: Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Low Speed Forward Auto Braking, Rear Vision Camera and Tire Pressure Monitor.
Fuel mileage is never going to be the strong point on these big palookas. Official numbers on the AWD 2019 Suburban are 14 city/20 highway/16 combined, and in my real-life testing I averaged 16. That’s about as good as you’re going to get in a vehicle this big, with maybe a 1 or 2 mpg improvement on some competitors at best.
If you’re being honest, you’ll go into buying a full-size SUV knowing that it won’t be easy on your pocketbook at the pump, and if that’s a major concern you should step down to a crossover that’s less heavy and more fuel-efficient.
PRICE, BOTTOM LINE
The Suburban I tested, a 4WD ½ ton Premier model, was priced just under $82,000; and the base price for that trim level starts at $68K. If you’re willing to shed most of the bells and whistles, the base Suburban model starts just north of $50K. Those are not small numbers, but when compared to the more luxurious models in the full-size SUV class, like the Escalade, they can be a bargain by comparison.
If you're in the market for one of these massive land boats, and prefer to spend toward the middle five figures instead of nearly six figures, the Suburban is time-tested and up to the task of transporting even the biggest families in comfort while showing off some impressive technology.
Matt Myftiu can be foundon Twitter @MattMyftiu.