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2003 Chevrolet Suburban Sport Utility

4dr 1500 LS

Starting at | Starting at 14 MPG City - 18 MPG Highway

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  • $37,050 original MSRP
Printable Version

2003 Chevrolet Suburban Sport Utility

Printable Version

2003 Chevrolet Suburban Sport Utility

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2003 Chevrolet Suburban

Source: New Car Test Drive

Introduction

Chevrolet Suburban boasts more than 40 major enhancements for 2003. The 'burb was completely redesigned for 2000, and this year's model benefits from major mid-cycle revisions.

Some of the changes can be seen, including the climate controls and a new family of radios, both of which are easier to use yet more powerful and more sophisticated than last year's. XM Satellite Radio is available, along with a new Panasonic DVD system for back-seat monkeys.

Other changes are harder to discern, but are more important. Dual-stage front airbags provide improved safety in an accident, while the availability of the StabiliTrak electronic stability control system lessens the chance of losing control. Adjustable pedals are available for an improved driving position. And an all-new electrical architecture promises improved reliability.

In spite of all these changes, the Suburban's mission has not wavered. It remains the first choice for anyone who needs to haul six or more people plus their cargo. Chevrolet Suburban offers a cavernous interior with seats that fold down for monster cargo loads. It's based on an excellent full-size truck frame and its V8 engines deliver strong torque for towing heavy loads. The Suburban provides a stable, comfortable ride for long-distance travel. And it's capable of going off road.

Suburban 2500-series models can be ordered with Quadrasteer electronic four-wheel steering for dramatically increased maneuverability in tight spaces and improved control when towing a trailer.

Model Lineup

Chevrolet Suburban comes with a choice of two- or four-wheel drive and is available in two load ranges, 1500 and 2500. Most people find the 1500 models meet their needs.

Suburban 1500 models come equipped with a 5.3-liter V8. The 2500 models are available with a choice of 6.0-liter or 8.1-liter V8s.

Two trim levels are available: LS and LT. In two-wheel drive, the LS starts at $36,305 and the LT at $39,615. In four-wheel drive, the prices are $39,105 and $42,415 respectively.

LS models come standard with three-zone air conditioning, heated outside mirrors, with a self-dimming mirror on the driver's side, six-way power front seats, side-step assist steps, a rear window defogger, fog lights and a HomeLink Universal transmitter.

LT models add luxury equipment, including automatic climate control, leather seat inserts, power folding mirrors, and a Bose premium stereo with nine speakers and a six-disc CD changer.

Z71 off-road package ($5167) includes heavy-duty springs and gas-pressure shocks, plus special appearance items outside and LT-grade comfort and convenience items inside.

A new rear-seat Panasonic DVD player ($1485 on LS, $1295 on LT) is available for 2003. XM Satellite Radio ($325) is available and receives 100 coast-to-coast channels, many of them commercial-free. An electric tilt-and-slide sunroof is available ($988-$1285) on LS and LT. Walkaround Chevrolet Suburban looks like an old friend. It was completely redesigned for 2000, which gave it a smoother and more aerodynamic look. Sharp edges were rounded. New headlights gave it a more contemporary appearance. But there is no mistaking the 'burb.

Two tailgate configurations are available. The one-piece rear hatch ($250) works best for most families. It's lightweight and can be opened with one hand. Also available are side-by-side cargo doors, which we like because they open wide and allow a closer working position to the cargo area. Cargo doors are also useful when pulling trailers because they will usually clear the trailer tongue jack. We also like them because it's easier to control a dog when opening them. The hinges have been re-engineered to let the doors open wide without having to disconnect the hinges manually.

A puddle lamp mounted below the side mirrors shines down to light up the perimeter of the Suburban. It can be turned on using the keyless remote. That makes it a nice feature when approaching the Suburban in a dark parking garage, as it illuminates underneath the vehicle. It can also be used in the backwoods to illuminate mud puddles.

Suburban is about 17 inches longer than the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon, and nearly identical to the GMC Yukon XL (which was called the GMC Suburban until recently).

Walkaround

Chevrolet Suburban looks like an old friend. It was completely redesigned for 2000, which gave it a smoother and more aerodynamic look. Sharp edges were rounded. New headlights gave it a more contemporary appearance. But there is no mistaking the 'burb.

Two tailgate configurations are available. The one-piece rear hatch ($250) works best for most families. It's lightweight and can be opened with one hand. Also available are side-by-side cargo doors, which we like because they open wide and allow a closer working position to the cargo area. Cargo doors are also useful when pulling trailers because they will usually clear the trailer tongue jack. We also like them because it's easier to control a dog when opening them. The hinges have been re-engineered to let the doors open wide without having to disconnect the hinges manually.

A puddle lamp mounted below the side mirrors shines down to light up the perimeter of the Suburban. It can be turned on using the keyless remote. That makes it a nice feature when approaching the Suburban in a dark parking garage, as it illuminates underneath the vehicle. It can also be used in the backwoods to illuminate mud puddles.

Suburban is about 17 inches longer than the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon, and nearly identical to the GMC Yukon XL (which was called the GMC Suburban until recently).

Interior Features

Cleverly designed seating maximizes the hauling potential of the Chevrolet Suburban. The third-row seatback folds down without having to remove the headrests, then the whole thing flips forward to substantially increase cargo capacity. A short prop rod locks it into place. This bench seat can be removed and is mounted on wheels, but it weighs 75 pounds, easiest as a two-person job. After removing the third-row seat, flip the seat bottom of the second row forward, fold the seatback down (no need to remove the headrests), flip the floor extension down and you've got a huge, flat cargo space behind the driver's seat. Loading cargo is easy because there's plenty of space for it. The spare tire has been moved underneath the vehicle to free up rear cargo space.

Optional cloth bucket seats ($1035) in our LS were okay, but didn't offer as much support as we would have liked. LT's leather seats seem more supportive, but there's still room for improvement.

The second row is quite comfortable. Headphone jacks (standard on LT, optional on LS) allow rear-seat passengers to listen to CDs while those up front turn on the radio. Sitting in the third row is surprisingly comfortable for an adult; slide your feet under the seat in front of you, and you can ride back there for fairly long distances. Getting back there requires folding and flipping the second-row seat out of the way.

Climbing into a Suburban is a challenge for some and running boards make getting in easier. Younger, taller people find it easy. Step-in height is actually lower than before because of the fully boxed frame introduced with the 2000 models.

The optional power-adjustable pedals can taxi in 3 inches closer, allowing shorter drivers to sit farther back from the steering wheel and farther away from the airbag, a good thing should it ever deploy. Also new for 2003 are dual-level airbags, which inflate with less force in less forceful collisions. Sensors in the front passenger seat and seat belts also measure the weight and size of the front-seat passenger and, if that passenger is child-size, shut the airbag down completely.

Driving Impressions

Ride quality in the Chevy Suburban 1500 is smooth, greatly improved over the previous-generation. The now-standard Premium Smooth Ride suspension features a hydraulically controlled rear self-leveling system to keep the Suburban at normal ride height, even when carrying heavy loads. We've found this system offers a good ride quality.

The more sophisticated optional Autoride suspension ($1120) uses computer-controlled shock damping for improved ride quality over uneven pavement. Whether towing a horse trailer or picking up a soccer team, Autoride continually adjusts the suspension for optimum ride and handling. This technology also helps reduce dive when braking (so that the nose of the vehicle doesn't dip down unduly), and body roll (or lean) during cornering.

Chevrolet Suburban offers excellent handling for a big, heavy truck. The steering is responsive and doesn't isolate the driver from the road. The Suburban grips the road surprisingly well for such a large vehicle. Driving quickly over wet pavement on mountain roads, we never lost traction. We drove into wet turns as quickly as we'd ever want to go in a Suburban and never lost grip. We were impressed. The entire front part of the frame is hydro-formed from one piece of metal, a setup that's much more rigid than a bunch of pieces of frame welded together.

Optional StabiliTrak electronic stability control ($750) offers improved control on uncertain surfaces. StabiliTrak measures where the driver is steering against where the truck is actually heading and, when necessary, reduces engine torque or selectively applies one or more wheel brakes to correct the Suburban's path. StabiliTrak is now offered on all Suburban 1500's, with two or four-wheel drive.

The 2500 models, often referred to as 3/4-ton versions, are only needed for towing heavy trailers. They are rated to tow up to 12,000 pounds, which tops even the Ford Excursion by half a ton. Suburban 2500 rides a bit harsher than the 1500 because its rear suspension uses leaf springs instead of the 1500's coil springs. But the 2500 rides surprisingly well, given its load range. It represents a big improvement over the previous-generation (pre-2000) 2500 models.

Quadrasteer electronic four-wheel steering ($4495) dramatically increases maneuverability by turning the rear wheels in the opposite direction from the front wheels. The turning diameter of Suburban is reduced from 44.5 feet to 35.2 feet with Quadrasteer. In practical terms, Quadrasteer can negotiate a U-turn where a standard Suburban would have to stop and back up. Quadrasteer makes it much easier to park in tight spaces, such as underground garages and crowded parking lots. Add a trailer and the benefits increase. Backing a trailer into a parking space at a 90 degree angle is much easier with Quadrasteer and backing up with a trailer is more intuitive. At high speeds, the system turns the wheels slightly in the same direction as the front wheels for smoother lane changes and enhanced stability. We have been noticing that vehicles equipped with Quadrasteer tend to have a rougher ride, probably due to the heavy-duty rear axle that comes with the system.

Brakes on all Suburbans work smoothly and progressively, providing stopping power without drama. A Dynamic Rear Proportioning system modulates the pressure applied to the rear brakes for more effective braking. The Suburban's braking system was completely redesigned for model-year 2000 and has been further refined for 2003 for better performance, improved pedal feel and quieter operation.

Cost is the main consideration on whether to get four-wheel drive. Those in the Sunbelt may not see justification for it. But even if you don't plan to go off road, four-wheel drive can keep you going through snow or over sandy, unpaved roads, or it can help pull a boat up a slippery boat ramp. If you don't get a 4WD model, consider ordering StabiliTrak for its traction-control feature.

Four-wheel-drive models offer several modes and shifting among them is as easy as changing stations on the radio. Press 2WD Hi for dry pavement. If it rains or snows or you turn onto an unpaved road, hit the Auto 4WD button. The Autotrac all-wheel-drive system automatically transfers power from a slipping wheel to the wheels with the best traction, providing improved control in inconsistent conditions. For serious off-road travel or deep snow, pressing 4WD Hi operates the system like a traditional part-time four-wheel-drive. Shifting into 4WD Lo switches to a low-range set of granny gears for slow, sure-footed traction over rugged terrain.

The standard Vortec 5300 delivers responsive performance. It offers 285 horsepower with 325 pounds-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. Torque is that force that pushes you from intersections and pulls trailers up steep grades. The Vortec 6000 that comes on the 2500 series is a 6.0-liter V8 rated at 320 horsepower with 360 pounds-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. Like the 5.3-liter engine, it uses cast-aluminum heads. The optional Vortec 8000 is an 8.1-liter V8, a big-block cast-iron engine rated at 455 pounds-feet of torque at 3200 rpm.

Suburban's automatic transmission features a Tow/Haul mode that improves life when pulling a trailer through hilly terrain. Pressing the switch on the end of the column shifter turns on Tow/Haul, which reduces the tendency of the transmission to hunt back and forth between third and fourth gears. When the transmission does shift, it shifts more quickly, reducing heat buildup in the transmission for improved durability and reliability. Even when not towing, we sometimes like to use it when driving on mountainous roads.

Summary

Chevrolet Suburban is a great vehicle for moving cargo, towing trailers, or hauling people. It's best when employed for all three of those things. The seats fold down for big cargo capacity. Get sleepy on a long trip and you can simply pull over and stretch out in back.

 


Model Line Overview

Model lineup: 1500 LS 2WD ($36,305); 1500 LT 2WD ($39,615); 1500 LS 4WD ($39,105); 1500 LT 4WD ($42,415); 2500 LS 2WD ($37,905); 2500 LT 2WD ($41,215); 2500 LS 4WD ($40,805); 2500 LT 4WD ($44,115)
Engines: 285-hp 5.3-liter ohv V8; 320-hp 6.0-liter ohv V8; 340-hp 8.1-liter ohv V8
Transmissions: 4-speed automatic with tow/haul mode
Safety equipment (standard): dual front air bags with dual-level inflation, ABS with Electronic Brake Controller, LATCH child-seat anchors
Safety equipment (optional): side-impact airbags, stability control
Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in: Janesville, Wisconsin; Silao, Mexico

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): Chevrolet Suburban 1500 4WD LS ($39,105)
Standard equipment: three-zone manual air conditioning, automatic headlamps, automatic door locks, child security rear doors locks, tilt steering wheel, three power outlets, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD stereo with eight speakers, cruise control with telltale, remote keyless entry with alarm, mirror with electronic compass and temperature readout, rear air conditioning and heater, leather-wrapped steering wheel, enhanced sunshades, power windows, machined cast aluminum wheels, dual power heated mirrors with ground illumination, six-way power front seats, side-assist steps, fog lamps, rear window defogger, HomeLink Universal remote
Options as tested (MSRP): Trailer Package ($285) includes trailer hitch platform, wire harness connector, transmission oil cooler; reclining bucket seats ($1035) includes six-way power adjustment and center console; locking rear differential ($295); off-road skid plate package ($275)
Destination charge: ($790)
Gas guzzler tax: N/A
Price as tested (MSRP): $41,785
Layout: four-wheel drive
Engine: 5.3-liter ohv V8
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 285 @ 5,200
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 325 @ 4,000
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 13/17 mpg
Wheelbase: 130.0 in. in.
Length/width/height: 219.3/78.9/75.4 in.
Track, f/r: 65.0/66.0 in.
Turning circle: 43.0 ft.
Seating capacity: 8
Head/hip/leg room, f: 40.7/61.4/41.3 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m: N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r: 39.0/61.6/39.1 in.
Trunk volume: 131.6 cu. ft.
Payload: N/A
Towing capacity: 8,100 Lbs.
Suspension, f: independent
Suspension, r: live axle
Ground clearance: 8.4 in.
Curb weight: 5,219 lbs.
Tires: P265/70R16
Brakes, f/r: disc/disc with ABS
Fuel capacity: 31.0 gal.

 

Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of July 18, 2002.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-950-2438 - www.chevrolet.com

 

Copyright © 1994-2003 New Car Test Drive, Inc.


 

 

 

Printable Version

2003 Chevrolet Suburban Sport Utility

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade n/a
Passenger Crash Grade n/a
Rollover Resistance
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Side Impact Crash Test - Front n/a
Side Impact Crash Test - Rear n/a

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Traction/Stability Control Opt

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Opt

Road Visibility

Daytime Running Lights Std
Fog Lamps Std
Electrochromic Rearview Mirror Std
Intermittent Wipers Std

Security

Alarm Std
Anti-theft System Std
Telematics Opt
Printable Version

2003 Chevrolet Suburban Sport Utility

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Miles

Months

Chevrolet Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

2-year/24,000-Mile¹ CPO Scheduled Maintenance Plan.

12-Month/12,000-Mile² Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty.

5-year/100,000-Mile³ Powertrain Limited Warranty for model years up to 2014.

¹Covers only scheduled oil changes with filter, tire rotations and 27 point inspections, according to your vehicle's recommended maintenance schedule for up to 2 years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. Does not include air filters. Maximum of 4 service events. See participating dealer for other restrictions and complete details.

²Whichever comes first from date of purchase. See participating dealer for limited warranty details.

³Whichever comes first from original in-service date. See participating dealers for limited warranty details.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 2009-2014 model year / Under 75,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 172-Point Vehicle Inspection and Reconditioning
Download checklist
Return/Exchange Program 3-Day 150-Mile Satisfaction Guarantee
Roadside Assistance Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $0

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2003 Chevrolet Suburban Sport Utility

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