The 2014 Chevrolet Suburban, by some accounts, is the ultimate full-size traditional SUV. It can seat nine people, tow a 9,600-lb boat and carry more cargo than any other utility. Few other SUVs can manage that impressive list of traits.
In addition to its obvious talents, the Suburban serves as a comfortable, near-luxury people mover. Its combination of plush ride and premium amenities makes it ideal for affluent families who want to hit the open road. In fact, a fully equipped Suburban might even make you forget it's a Chevy.
But like most good things, the truck-based Suburban has its drawbacks. Its low city fuel economy will deter some from driving around town as freely as they'd like. Also, the Suburban's driving characteristics cannot mask its massive size. For that reason, it's best to avoid narrow city streets and crowded parking lots.
Most American families will probably never need all that the Suburban has to offer. For the few that do, however, this massive body-on-frame vessel amply delivers.
What's New for 2014?
The Suburban is only slightly updated for 2014 ahead of an expected 2015 redesign. The only major update is three newly standard features on the Suburban LS: power adjustable pedals, a rear parking camera and a remote starter.
What We Like
Nine-passenger seating; up to 9,600-lb plus tow limit; huge cargo space; comfortable ride; abundance of amenities
What We Don't
Heavy and sluggish off the line; abundant body roll; third-row seat is difficult to stow; low city fuel economy; hard to maneuver in parking lots
The Suburban offers a choice of two engines. The 1500 comes with a 5.3-liter V8 that makes 320 horsepower and 335 lb-ft of torque, while the heavy-duty 2500 is outfitted with a 6.0-liter V8 that generates 352 hp and 382 lb-ft. Both engines are managed by a 6-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while 4-wheel drive is optional.
Fuel economy for the 2014 Chevy Suburban 1500 is 15 miles per gallon city/21 mpg hwy in both rear- and 4-wheel drive. The 2500 returns fuel economy ratings of 10 mpg city/16 mpg hwy in 2-wheel-drive guise and just 10 mpg city/15 mpg hwy with optional 4-wheel drive.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Chevrolet Suburban comes in three trim levels -- LS, LT and LTZ. Base-level Suburban 1500 models are offered with all three trims, while the heavy-duty Suburban 2500 is available only in LS and LT guise.
The Suburban LS ($46,000 for the 1500; $47,000 for the 2500) boasts all the full-size SUV necessities. That includes features such as alloy wheels, tri-zone climate controls, power front seats, Bluetooth and power accessories (windows, locks, mirrors, etc.). It also includes OnStar, satellite radio, an iPod/USB interface for music and, for the 2014 model year, power adjustable pedals, a rearview camera and a remote starter.
The LT ($49,000 for the 1500; $50,000 for the 2500) adds automatic climate control, leather seats, heated front seats and a Bose audio system with a 6-disc CD changer. LT models also include a roof rack and fog lights.
Topping the Suburban range is the LTZ ($57,500), which is only offered in 1500 spec. The luxury-trimmed LTZ includes a long list of upscale features, including rear air suspension, 20-inch alloy wheels, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a touchscreen navigation system with real-time traffic and a power rear lift gate.
Major Suburban options include 22-in wheels, power running boards, a sunroof and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
The Suburban's standard safety equipment includes ABS, 4-wheel disc brakes, stability control, OnStar telematics and six airbags, including 3-row head curtains with a rollover sensor. In addition, the LTZ trim level benefits from a standard blind spot warning system.
In government crash tests, the Suburban receives a 4-star overall rating. It received three stars in the rollover test and five stars in both frontal and side-impact tests.
Behind the Wheel
The 2014 Chevrolet Suburban is large and heavy. For that reason, handling can be bit cumbersome, with body roll sometimes rearing its ugly head. Take caution in corners and crowded parking lots (rear sensors are a must). The ride, however, is civilized if not supple, and benefits especially from the LTZ's Autoride suspension. To boot, the Suburban's cabin is pleasantly quiet, even at highway speeds.
Helping the Suburban's all-terrain, all-weather attributes are its wheels. Sizes range from large 17-in to massive 22-in wheels. These, combined with 4-wheel drive, make the Suburban unstoppable on a variety of road surfaces. But the Suburban's long wheelbase and relatively low angles of approach and departure limit its off-road capability.
Other Cars to Consider
Cadillac Escalade ESV -- It's not as capable or as spacious as the Suburban, but the Escalade offers more in the way of style, creature comfort and premium technology.
Chevrolet Traverse -- The Traverse can tow only about half as much as the Suburban, and it has a maximum passenger capacity of eight compared with the Suburban's nine. But the Traverse wins when it comes to fuel efficiency, ride and handling, interior flexibility and even features.
GMC Yukon XL -- The Yukon is the GMC counterpart to the Suburban. The two vehicles are very much the same, though the Yukon has more upscale styling and a wider array of available features.
Infiniti QX56 -- The QX is certainly big, but it's not as spacious as the Suburban. The Infiniti has richer content and delivers a more sophisticated drive.
The best Suburban is the 1500 LT. This is an extremely well-equipped package that doesn't have an inflated price due to many unnecessary upgrades (such as power retractable running boards or a heated steering wheel). We suggest that those in cold climates opt for the 4-wheel-drive system. An optional sunroof is always a pleasant extra, and the DVD rear entertainment feature is a must for making those long trips pass quickly and quietly.