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The Chevy Suburban HD Is the Most Subtle Intimidating Car in the World

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author photo by Doug DeMuro April 2017

In my opinion, no car in the entire world is more subtly intimidating than the heavy-duty Chevy Suburban. Those who don't know what it is drive right past, oblivious to its existence. Those who do know notice every single one -- and they pass by with a stare to see exactly who's driving.

To start, allow me to explain exactly what the heavy-duty Suburban is, for those you who fall into the first camp. As you probably know, the Chevy Suburban is Chevy's full-size SUV: It has three rows of seats, and it also has a massive cargo area behind those seats where you can store stuff. It can also tow rather large objects. It's a very versatile, useful car, unless you're interested in fuel economy.

But then there's the Suburban 2500 HD. Although many people aren't aware of its existence, the HD Suburban is a regular Suburban with a thicker frame, an improved suspension and brakes, and revised wheels with additional bolts to handle extra towing and hauling. Heavy-duty Suburban models also generally receive a larger engine: Since 2000, the heavy-duty Suburban has come standard with a 6.0-liter V8 that's only been offered in certain 1500-level "light-duty" Suburban models since 2006.

So why is the heavy-duty Suburban so intimidating? One reason is its subtle look: While most observers will suggest it's identical to a regular Suburban, those of us who pick up on the most subtle clues will see one on the street, notice the wheels and realize this truck is designed for special duties above and beyond the call of the normal Suburban.

But the biggest reason the HD Suburban looks so subtly intimidating is its primary customers. Since most consumers will never need the larger engine or the sturdier frame of the heavy-duty model, the vast majority of HD Suburban customers are fleets -- and, specifically, the FBI and Secret Service. There's nowhere in the world where you'll see more HD Suburbans than Washington, D.C., where they're always painted black, they're often moving at high speed, and they usually have some sort of auxiliary lights installed in the window and grille.

When one of these government-issue heavy-duty Suburban models is parked, most people will see it and simply assume it's another family SUV -- but if you know, you know. For instance, look closely at the heavy-duty Suburban pictured above and you'll notice the rear window is reinforced with bulletproof glass. That isn't your mom's Suburban, and it isn't heading to soccer practice.

Although General Motors tried to cancel the heavy-duty Suburban with the SUV's latest redesign due to poor sales, they've recently announced they'll be making it again -- but only for fleet buyers. That likely means the next generation of heavy-duty Suburban models will soon be rolling around with bulletproof glass, intimidating the small portion of the population that knows what to look for.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The Chevy Suburban HD Is the Most Subtle Intimidating Car in the World - Autotrader