With the first Suburban Carryall wagon dating all the way back to 1935, no model name can claim a longer lineage. The 2007-2013 Chevrolet Suburban is available in two series, 1500 and 2500. For 2007, both receive a stiffer, fully-boxed frame, switch to rack-and-pinion steering for improved control, and get wider front and rear tracks for greater stability. Both versions can tote up to nine passengers or 137 cubic feet of cargo with the second- and third-row seats folded. Outside, 2007-2013 Suburbans sport sleeker sheet metal and more-aerodynamic wraparound fascias, while inside they offer a more refined interior with improved materials and more comfortable seats. Both rear-drive and 4WD models are offered on both series.
There is no badging delineating 1500 and 2500 Suburbans. Although the 2500 has the same exterior dimensions as the 1500, the 2500 weighs 400-800 pounds more and has beefier axles, brakes and other chassis hardware to handle bigger tasks. The 2500 model runs 8-lug wheels and multi-leaf rear springs compared to the 1500's passenger-car wheels and rear coil suspension, and offers another 600-1000 lbs of payload capacity over the 1500. Also the 2500 has a bigger fuel tank: 39 gallons compared to the 31.5-gal tank in 1500 models.
Why You Want It
The Chevy Suburban is a "yes-I-can" utility, big enough to carry up to nine passengers AND their gear. Its cargo capacity exceeds that of many minivans, plus its towing capacity of up to 8100 lbs on 1500 models and 9700 lbs on 2500s is hard to beat. If you are looking for one vehicle that can carry it all, the Suburban is a good bet. The 2007-2013 Suburban comes standard with a full suite of safety systems, including OnStar automatic crash notification, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front and side airbags, tire-pressure monitoring, and from 2008-on, roof-mounted head-curtain airbags that deploy in a rollover. A back-up camera, sonar rear park assist and side blind-zone alert systems are also available.
Notable Features and Options
The Suburban 1500 is available in three trim levels: base LS, mid-level LT and luxury LTZ, while the heftier Suburban 2500 only comes in LS or LT trim. On both 1500 and 2500 Suburbans, LS standard fare includes OnStar, a split front bench seat with fold-down armrest and power driver's seat, A/C with both front- and second-row controls, cruise control, a leather-wrapped tilt wheel, keyless remote entry, alloy wheels, and an 8-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with steering-wheel controls. Also standard are a trailer-hitch receiver, split fold-down second- and third-row seats, security system, trip computer, rear defroster, rear wiper/washer, auto-dimming rearview mirror, a compass, outside temperature display, intermittent wipers, automatic headlamps, and power windows, mirrors and door locks.
Moving up to LT trim adds standard fog lamps, rear-seat audio controls and power front bucket seats. But it also is available with a host of optional features the LS doesn't offer, such as a power rear liftgate, turn-signal indicator mirrors, sonar backup sensors, a sunroof, navigation, automatic A/C, rear-seat entertainment system, heated leather seats with memory, power front passenger seat, premium 9-speaker audio system and rain-sensing wipers.
Only the Suburban 1500 series is available with LTZ trim, which adds such standard items as leather seats, navigation system, larger wheels, Autoride adjustable shock-absorber damping, auto-leveling suspension, auto A/C, back-up camera, Homelink garage-door opener, heated front seats with memory, heated rear seats, adjustable pedals, rain-sensing wipers, ultrasonic reverse sensing and a limited-slip differential.
Optional is a Z71 Off Road package that adds an off-road suspension with high-pressure gas shocks, 18-inch on/off-road tires, skid plates, a high-capacity air cleaner, auto-locking differential and front recovery hooks. Z71 equipped trucks get a different look too. Z71 cosmetic upgrades include large body-color wheel flares, chrome tubular running boards, and an aggressive front fascia with chrome grille insert, plus leather seats and brushed metal trim inside.
Other popular Suburban options include power adjustable pedals, a Bose premium audio system, power retractable running boards, a sunroof, a heated steering wheel, and a remote start system that allows owners to remotely start and warm up the engine on frigid winter mornings or cool down the interior on a blazing summer day in the driveway from the comfort of home.
2008: Head curtain airbags become standard. StabiliTrak and 6-speed automatic transmission now standard on 2500 models.
2009: A 6-speed automatic transmission replaces 4-speed on 1500 models. Optional back-up camera display in rearview mirror. OnStar 8.0 with turn by turn navigation, stolen vehicle slowdown and destination download debuts. Bluetooth connectivity with hands-free calling is available. NavTraffic feature added to XM. Side blind-zone alert now optional on LTZ. Second display screen optional for third-row seats. Fuel-saving 3.08:1 rear axle available with 5.3-liter V8 on 2WD models. Optional HD towing package with 3.42:1 rear axle. New integrated trailer brake controller. LTZ adds heated and cooled 12-way power leather front seats, Centerpoint Surround-sound Bose audio system, brushed-metal steering-wheel trim plate, a rear hitch cover and other trim upgrades. New LT luxury package includes heated second-row seats, Bose audio, power liftgate, and more.
2010: USB outlet added to console on all models. LT adds tri-zone A/C, power adjustable pedals, remote start, ultrasonic rear park assist, Bose 9-speaker premium audio and heavy-duty locking rear differential. Single-speed transfer case made standard on 4WDs, 2-speed is optional.
2011: Towing package includes an integrated trailer brake controller.
2012: New hard-drive navigation radio with USB port. Heated seats added to LT and heated steering wheel to LTZ. Electronic trailer sway control and hill-start assist now standard. Side blind zone alert now standard on LTZ.
2013: Powertrain grade braking now available in normal transmission mode.
Engines and Performance
All 2007-2013 Suburbans are powered by small-block Chevy V8s. Standard fare on 1500 models is a 5.3-liter V8 with 310-320 horsepower and variable valve timing. Many 2007-2008 5.3-liter V8s are E85 capable, which means they can operate on regular unleaded gasoline, clean-burning E85 ethanol or any combination of the two. A yellow fuel filler cap and an E85 sticker inside the fuel filler door are your clues. However, because E85 has a lower energy content than gasoline, using it will cause fuel mileage to drop by about 25%. The 5.3-liter engine also features active fuel management, a cylinder-deactivation system that shuts down four of the eight cylinders when coasting or highway cruising under light load to save fuel. The 2007-2009 Suburban 1500 is also available with a 366-hp 6.0-liter V8 with variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation, however it is not E85 capable.
The heavier-duty 2500 series models come standard with a 352-hp 6.0-liter V8 with variable valve timing, but no cylinder deactivation system. The 2007-2009 models run on unleaded gasoline only, but from 2010-on, it is E85 capable.
The 2007-2008 Suburban 1500 and 2007 Suburban 2500 come standard with a 4-speed automatic transmission. A more-efficient, wide-ratio 6-speed transmission is used on all later models, featuring a lower first gear for good launch performance and two overdrive ratios for improved highway fuel economy. A tap-up/tap-down gear selection on the column shifter gives the driver easier manual gear control for grades and a tow/haul mode offers the driver improved control of transmission shift points when dealing with heavy loads.
In a May 2007 test of a 2007 Suburban 1500 LTZ 4WD model with the 6.0-liter V8 and 4-speed automatic, Car and Driver magazine reeled off 7.6-second 0-60 and 15.8-second ¼-mile times. However, the observed fuel economy for the 3-ton utility was a meager 10 mpg. Truck Trend magazine later tested a 2008 Suburban 2500 LT 4WD model with the 6.0-liter V8 and new 6-speed automatic, netting 7.8-second 0-60 and 16.1-second ¼-mile test results.
Recalls, Safety Ratings and Warranties
The following safety recalls have been issued by NHTSA regarding the 2007-2013 Chevrolet Suburban:
2007-2009: Models equipped with the optional "hot shot" heated windshield washer system may experience a short circuit which can overheat the washer system's electronic module, possibly resulting in a fire. Fix is for dealer to disable and remove the feature.
2009: Water may enter the fuel system control module, causing hard starting and stalling. Dealer to replace defective modules.
2012: Steering gear shaft may fracture, causing loss of steering control. Dealer to replace defective gears.
2013: The interlock device between the steering column and transmission may be faulty. Ignition could be turned off without transmission being put in Park position, allowing vehicle to roll away and crash. Dealer to inspect and replace faulty steering columns.
IIHS did not crash test the 2007-2013 Chevy Suburban, hence no ratings from that insurance company testing organization. In NHTSA testing, the 2007-2009 and 2011-2013 Chevy Suburban 1500 received the top 5-star rating for driver and passenger front impact performance as well as side impact performance, plus a 3-star rollover rating. NHTSA did not rate the 2007-2014 Suburban 2500.
From 2007 to 2013 the Chevrolet Suburban featured a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty with free roadside assistance, 6-year/100,000-mile corrosion perforation warranty, and 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage.
A Chevrolet Certified Used Suburban can be no more than five years old or have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer. Each Certified Used Suburban undergoes a 172-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty plus whatever remains on the transferable original 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage. Also included is a new 2-year/24,000-mile maintenance plan and roadside assistance.
Word on the Web
Consumerreports.org ironically referred to the Suburban as an extended length Tahoe. It gave the Suburban average reliability scores, and criticized the big utility for vague steering, cumbersome handling and an uncomfortable third-row seat. CR did, however, give the Suburban good marks for towing ability, a cargo hold bigger than most minivans and good interior quality and comfortable seats. It managed 14 mpg with the standard 5.3-liter V8, which it called adequate.
Carcomplaints.com reported high incidence of excessive oil consumption with the 5.3-liter V8, dashboard cracking and peeling chrome finish on the inside door release handles on 2007 models.
Ford Expedition EL: Stretching 15 inches longer than the standard Expedition, the EL model replaced the titanic Excursion after 2005. While its third-row seat space is more generous than the Suburban's, the Expedition EL comes up short on cargo room. The Expedition's independent rear suspension, however, rides better than the Suburban's live rear axle setup.
Toyota Sequoia: Toyota's biggest SUV is based on the Tundra full-size pickup and is a perennial class winner for full-size SUV initial quality in J.D. Power surveys. While it doesn't have as much passenger or cargo space as the Suburban, the Sequoia can tow up to 7400 lbs and now comes standard with trailer sway control. The standard 310-hp 4.6-liter V8 is ample, and the optional 381-hp 5.7-liter V8 delivers entertaining performance. Beginning in 2012, adaptive cruise control is available.
Nissan Armada: Sharing most mechanicals except its independent coil-spring rear suspension with the big Titan pickup, the beefy Armada will tow up to 9100 lbs, and has seats for eight passengers. However, its shorter overall length results in a maximum cargo capacity some 40 cubic feet less than the Suburban's.
Unless you are a die-hard Ford fan, the Suburban is pretty much in a class of its own in the large utility segment. The trucks enjoy a high resale value. Our preference is for 2009-or-later models, due to reports of excessive oil consumption on 2007 models, and the fact that most 2007-2008 1500 models came with the less-efficient 4-speed automatic transmission and not the more flexible and fuel-efficient 6-speed unit. It's best to avoid customized trucks with modified suspension or oversized aftermarket wheels. Always get a car history report before you buy.