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The 2000s Chevy Suburban Had a Different Front End in Mexico

So I’m living in San Diego now, which is a lovely city with excellent weather, great beaches, nice food and great neighborhoods, but none of that is my favorite thing about San Diego. My favorite thing about San Diego is the fact that, pretty much every day, I can count on seeing weird cars from Mexico.

Obviously, when you cross country borders, you get different vehicles, but I never really realized just how many different vehicles Mexico has than the United States. There have to be dozens of models, currently on sale, that are sold in Mexico that we don’t get here in America, and they all seem to trickle up to San Diego eventually. So I’ve really been enjoying myself.

Quite possibly the weirdest one is the 2001-ish Chevy Suburban. Now, if you know U.S. cars, you’ll know that the U.S. got a Chevy Suburban in this era, so you might be wondering exactly what makes it so weird. Well, I’ll tell you precisely what: the front end. Check out the pictures above and you’ll see a regular Suburban from the back, and a not-so-regular Suburban from the front. That’s because this Mexican-market Suburban uses the facelifted front-end design that full-size Chevy trucks got in the United States from 2003 to 2006 — a front end that was never included on the U.S.-market Suburban.

In other words: in Mexico, the 2000-2006 Chevy Suburban got a facelift at some point in its run to incorporate this new, more modern grille and headlights. In the United States, this facelift never came. Which, of course, means Chevy was making two separate front ends for Suburban models for at least a few years — one for the United States, and then a totally different one, just for Mexico.

And this leads me to ask the following question: WHY?! I’m so curious about the logic for this, but I can’t imagine there’s really all that much logic behind it. How did Chevrolet possibly arrive at the conclusion that the Suburban’s sales would increase if it had the new grille, but only in Mexico? How did someone in product planning at Chevrolet decide: "Yes, Mexicans will buy more of these if they get the new front end, but the Americans and Canadians won’t"? I’ve worked in the car industry, in long-range planning, and I remember having a difficult time figuring out whether or not people would want a tow hitch. How does Chevy know which grille works best from market to market?!

Sadly, I may never know the answer to this question, but I will certainly always wonder — each and every time I see a Mexican-market, mid-2000s Chevy Suburban.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. I live by the Canadian border, and often see lots of W210 Mercedes Diesel wagons, B-Classes, and W205 C-Class wagons. None of which were available in the U.S.

  2. From what I remember, they did the facelift for the ’04 model year. You’d expect them to facelift them at the same time as the trucks (’03). I think the Mexican market Silverados, Tahoes, and Suburbans still had the 350ci (5.7L) until around 2002 instead of the 325ci (5.3L) as well.

  3. Here’s the short answer as to “why”. US market Tahoes, Suburbans, and Yukon’s were made in Arlington and Janesville. Mexican market models were built alongside Silverados in Silao. For a relatively small number of units produced, why bother shipping in the “regular” front clip when the Silverado front clip fits fine?

    • Bizarre — so they had a second line of Suburbans just for Mexico? I’m shocked this is cheaper/easier than simply making the Suburban in the same place and sending it south of the border. But I appreciate the answer!

    • Well sorta. Everything fits except for the bumper-to-frame mounts. Those have to be welded in. I’m doing a Silverado SS front-end on my 01 Burb. I wonder if the frame on these is different, GM made a unique part to fit the bumper, or GM welded the mounts at the plant. Be awesome if its #2 and I can find a set.

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