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Why I Will Love the Chevy Suburban Forever

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author photo by Will Kinton January 2017

The Chevy Suburban will always have a special place in my heart. Sure, Suburbans are huge vehicles with atrocious gas mileage, they're difficult to park, and driving one in a big city could probably be considered a form of cruel and unusual punishment. It certainly isn't a car for everyone -- but that's not why I love it.

The reason why I'll love them forever is that Suburbans were an integral part of my family during the most formative parts of my childhood. Our first Suburban was a 1993 (I believe) model with a two-tone teal and silver paint job and cloth seats. My parents bought it in 1995 after my mom's Mercury Sable wagon was rear-ended and totaled, having realized that anyone in the rear-facing seat of that wagon would have been killed in that accident. We named it The Beast, and it performed its duties like a faithful dog.

The Beast quickly proved its worth on long road trips during family vacations. The cavernous interior and three rows of seats allowed my parents to spread me, my brother, and my sister as far out as possible to minimize bickering. The standard road-trip configuration my parents developed was to put my brother and sister in the third row (or the "way back" as we called it) and fold down the left and middle seat of the second row, leaving me alone in the right seat. My parents then put a combination TV/VCR unit in that open space, and it was my job to keep the entertainment going. Behind the third row was a cargo area big enough for literally anything we could need over that week.

At some point in the late 1990s, my dad quit his job and started his own business flipping houses. At that time, The Beast's job changed from family hauler to work truck. My dad took out the third row, put a piece of plywood down, and the Beast became the perfect vehicle for his needs. I remember asking my dad why he didn't just buy a pickup truck like many other people in his industry, and his answer was pretty simple: The huge, lockable, enclosed cargo area of the Suburban was much more secure than the bed of a pickup, and it was able to carry 12-foot boards without having them hang out over the end. He could put almost every tool he owned in the back at once -- and if he ever needed to carry something bulky that wouldn't fit in the back, he had a trailer.

The Beast was eventually replaced by a white 2001 GMC Yukon XL 2500 4WD for family-hauling responsibilities and a blue ninth-generation (2000-2006) Suburban for work duties. The Yukon XL was a huge upgrade for road tripping, with leather seats and a fold-down DVD player with wireless headphones. The Yukon served our family well, but gas got expensive and its thirst was just too much for daily driving duties -- so it was replaced by a 1999 Mercedes E320 Wagon that my little brother now drives. However, the blue Suburban continued to serve us well. At one point, we loaded up our Suburban for a week at the beach and drove from Richmond, Virginia, to the mountains of West Virginia to pick up my sister from summer camp before heading down to Hilton Head, towing a 17-foot boat the entire way. We didn't have a single issue the entire trip -- except, of course, for the frequent gas stops.

Eventually, that blue Suburban was totaled when it hit a tree, and my dad replaced it with a brown one in 2006 to keep up with the work duties. Unfortunately, the brown Suburban didn't stay with us long. The housing market quickly collapsed at the end of 2007, and in the beginning of 2008 my dad had to fold in his home-flipping business and sell our last Suburban. He bought a 2007 Honda Civic coupe for commuting to his new office job. He never really liked that car -- I suspect it was representative of his return to the office environment he'd tried to leave a decade before.

The Suburbans we owned over the years were well-loved by everyone in our family. They asked very little from us and took on burdens no other vehicle could. I often find myself looking for cheap Suburbans on Autotrader while trying to justify owning a vehicle that could carry everything I own -- and then some.

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Why I Will Love the Chevy Suburban Forever - Autotrader