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2018 Chevrolet Suburban Review

2018 Chevrolet Suburban Review
The 2018 Chevrolet Suburban is the ultimate weekend road-trip vehicle ready to haul nine people, their luggage, and even an 8,300 pound trailer. Try that in a crossover.

The 2018 Chevrolet Suburban is a full-size SUV and team bus. It's built on top of a truck, which means that it can haul nine passengers, gear, and a boat, all in relative comfort.

If a crossover like Chevy’s own Traverse simply won’t do, the Suburban stands ready. Thanks to its excellent hauling ability and its surprisingly luxurious feel inside, we’ve rated the 2018 Chevy Suburban at 6.8 out of 10 points.  

This year, an RST appearance package available on Suburban LT and Premier trim levels provides a spicier look with blacked-out trim and 22-inch alloy wheels, but no power or suspension changes.

The 2018 Suburban is available in LS, LT, and Premier trim levels, with seating for up to nine and a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive. Standard on all trims is a 5.3-liter V-8 rated at 355 horsepower that shuttles power to the wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. If the 220-inch-long Suburban is too big for your garage, Chevy lops off 16 inches to create the more nimble Tahoe. And if the gold bowtie badge festooned to this SUV’s nose isn’t to your liking, the GMC Yukon XL is essentially the same vehicle with lightly revised styling.

Inside, the Suburban’s car-like dashboard groups most controls in and around an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that runs the automaker’s MyLink infotainment system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as they should be at a price tag that tops $51,000 for the LS trim level before any options are added. Pile on the options and you’ll eventually wind up spending more than $80,000—at which point the related Cadillac Escalade starts to look like a rational purchase.

Cloth upholstery and a three-position front bench seat are standard on the Suburban LS; other trims sub in heated and ventilated leather upholstery plus a pair of captain’s chairs separated by a center console up front. Row two can be ordered either as a three-piece bench or as a pair of individual seats with a pass-through to the standard three-person third row bench. Both the second and third rows fold to reveal an apartment-like 121.7 cubic-feet of cargo space.

If that’s not enough room, consider petitioning Penske to offer a rental truck subscription program.

The 2018 Chevrolet Suburban looks best painted in Secret Service-grade black paint.

The 2018 Chevrolet Suburban wears its size well, with a crisply tailored look outside and a dashboard that could have come from one of the automaker’s sedans.

We’ve awarded it a point above average for its attractive interior but stop short of assigning one for a boxy exterior, which brings it to a 6 out of 10. 

That’s not to say that the Chevy Suburban doesn’t have a commanding presence, particularly when swathed in Secret Service-ready black paint. Its profile is distinctly two-box, with only quirky headlights and a chrome-heavy grille distinguishing it from Suburbans of yore. Its crisp details and hard edges give it a timeless appeal.

This year’s new RST package adds special 22-inch alloy wheels and a few other styling bits that help it stand out from more pedestrian models.

Inside, the Suburban’s symmetrical dash layout puts most controls below a high-mounted 8.0-inch touchscreen. Climate and audio switches are grouped separately, which makes them easy enough to sort through at a glance.

With the standard cloth-upholstered bench seat on the Suburban LS, the dash ends abruptly and cuts into the middle passenger’s leg space. Still, we applaud the Suburban for hanging onto the front bench seat—even if very few Chevy dealers will stock one without the front captain’s chairs. Dressier LT and Premier trims look the same inside, although the optional mahogany leather seems worth the $295 upcharge to us.

The 2018 Chevrolet Suburban boasts a strong V-8 engine and a solid feel over the road.

It’s hard to call an SUV that tips the scales at nearly 6,000 pounds anything but ponderous, but the 2018 Chevrolet Suburban makes a case for itself with its smooth ride and strong V-8 engines. We’ve given it a 6 out of 10. 

Standard on all 2018 Suburbans is a 5.3-liter V-8 engine rated at 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque that shuttles power to either the rear or all four wheels via a column-shifted 6-speed automatic transmission. Given the heft this engine is tasked with transporting, the Suburban’s strong acceleration is surprising. The automatic fires off quick, smooth shifts, and the engine even shuts off half of its cylinders while coasting or during light-load driving to save fuel.

Four-wheel-drive Suburbans are rated to tow 8,200 pounds; rear-drive models are rated at 8,300 pounds.
The Suburban’s thick-rimmed steering wheel filters out most of the road below, but it’s direct with little on-center slop and a comforting, direct feel at highway speeds even on a windy day. Given this SUV’s hefty curb weight, it’s hardly a surprise that it struggles to keep pace on curvy roads compared to much lighter, car-based crossovers like Chevy’s own Traverse.

Underneath, the Suburban’s body-on-frame chassis is derived from the automaker’s Silverado trucks. Unlike pickups, however, the ‘Burb’s solid rear axle is coil-sprung, which results in a smooth, controlled ride with little side-to-side head toss. It can’t keep up with rivals’ fully independent setups, but the Suburban offers a plusher ride with more suspension articulation with the going gets extra rough.

To that end, four-wheel drive is optional and it includes either a single-speed transfer case or one with a low range; shop carefully if the latter is important to you since not all Suburbans leave the automaker’s Arlington, Texas (really, where else?), assembly plant so-equipped.

For those more dirt-averse, the new RST package optional on LT and Premier trim levels adds 22-inch alloy wheels, but no suspension changes.

Comfort & Quality
Few vehicles offer as much room for passengers and their gear as the 2018 Chevrolet Suburban.

The 2018 Chevrolet Suburban features exceptionally good room for passengers and their gear—and even base models have a high-end feel. We’ve awarded points above average for front seat comfort, rear seat comfort, cargo capacity, and materials, bringing this lineup to a 9 out of 10. 

Sure, Chevy sells a nine-seat version of the Suburban with room for three in each row, but the vast majority built have individual seats up front with a wide center console. The power-adjustable front seats are all-day comfortable and both the standard cloth and optional leather upholstery have a nice feel. Soft-touch surfaces with French stitching abound.

Row two comes standard as a three-piece bench, but captain’s chairs are optional. There’s good stretch-out leg room, although not quite as much as the Suburban’s 130-inch wheelbase might suggest. The third row is fairly easy to access thanks to available power-folding second-row seats and, once back there, even adults will find reasonable space for around-town riding.

It’s luggage that really has the room to roam, though. Behind the third row, the Suburban features nearly 40 cubic feet of space. Fold row three into what becomes a fairly high-off-the-ground load floor and that space expands to 77 cubic feet. With both rows flat, it’s a Manhattan apartment: almost 122 cubic feet and a flat, wide floor.

The 2018 Chevrolet Suburban has many safety features, but it hasn’t been fully crash-tested.

The 2018 Chevrolet Suburban is fitted with a lot of safety gear, but it hasn’t been fully crash-tested. As a result, we can’t assign this big bruiser a score here. 

All Suburbans with bucket seats come with seven airbags including an innovative single airbag between the driver and front passenger that’s designed to prevent front-seat occupants’ heads from making contact with each other. Anti-lock brakes and stability control are also standard.

Available on Suburban LS and standard on LT and Premier is the Enhanced Driver Alert Package that includes low-speed automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beam headlights, and active lane control.

The IIHS hasn’t yet tested the Suburban, but the federal government awards it a concerning four out of five stars overall. That score factors in its high center of gravity, good for just three out of five stars in the government’s calculated rollover assessment.

The 2018 Chevrolet Suburban is well-equipped and offers lots of extra options, as it should for its hefty price of admission.

The 2018 Chevrolet Suburban is offered in three trim levels, each with a wide range of options. We’ve awarded the lineup 8 out of 10 points for a high level of standard gear, lots of available extras, and an excellent 8.0-inch infotainment screen. 

No Suburban is cheap. The Suburban LS serves as the entry to the range and for about $51,000, it includes cloth upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, three-zone automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Bluetooth.

The Enhanced Driver Alert Package with its automatic emergency braking and active lane control is a worthwhile option, but we’re not sold on the myriad 20- and 22-inch alloy wheels that can add upward of $2,000 to the Suburban’s bottom line.

The Suburban LT adds the safety tech, plus leather seats (that are heated up front), Bose audio, and a power liftgate. Topping the lineup is the Suburban Premier with its ventilated front seats, blind-spot monitors, upgraded Bose audio, hands-free liftgate, and keyless ignition.

Optional on LT and Premier is a new RST package that blacks out much of the exterior chrome trim and includes 22-inch alloy wheels. A Z71 package goes in the opposite direction with off road-inspired looks, special bumpers, and all-terrain tires.

Suburban Premiers are exclusively available with adaptive cruise control and a head-up display.

Four-wheel drive is a $3,000 upgrade on every trim level.

All in, a loaded 2018 Suburban comes in around $80,000. That’s about where the Cadillac Escalade lineup starts, so shop carefully.

Fuel Economy
Thanks to its advanced engine, the 2018 Chevrolet Suburban isn’t as thirsty as you might expect.

Though it’s hardly a fuel-sipper, the 2018 Chevrolet Suburban has a high-tech engine that helps it use less fuel than its size and boxy shape would suggest.

The lineup rates a 5 out of 10 on our scale. 
Rear-wheel drive Suburbans are the lightest of the bunch—and, predictably, the most efficient at an EPA-estimated 16 mpg city, 23 highway, 19 combined. Adding four-wheel drive dents those figures to 15/22/18 mpg.

Both Suburbans can also run on E85, but they use a lot more of it: 12/17/14 mpg with rear-drive and 11/15/12 mpg with four-wheel drive.

Those numbers aren’t far off of some car-based crossovers—for instance, the smaller and lighter four-wheel drive Volkswagen Atlas rates just 17/23/19 mpg. Credit to the Suburban goes to the 5.3-liter V-8’s ability to run on just four cylinders during light-load situations like coasting and lower speed cruising.


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