Which Suburban should you buy? A few months ago I drove the new, 2021 Chevy Suburban for the first time. I found it soft and smooth and huge. And I found the V8 impressive. Moving to the other end of the spectrum, I recently found myself in the diesel-powered Suburban for a few days, and here are my thoughts.
First, the particulars. The “clean-sheet design” 3.0-liter inline-six is offered on all Suburban models except for the Z71. It’s rated at 277 hp and a healthy 460 lb-ft of torque. To keep everything chuffing along the three-liter has iron cylinder liners within the aluminum engine block, a forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods, and blended silicon/aluminum pistons for greater heat resistance and reduced expansion.
The Suburban is up an inch in length but with the packaging of the new independent multilink suspension, it gained about 2 inches of legroom in the second and third rows and 23 more cubic feet of cargo space. It also takes on the new Chevy nose look, similar to the Silverado, and I’m just not sold yet. But I can report a few things.
First, from the mouth of babes. “It’s good because it’s like a playroom with screens but it’s a car.”
This is the first vehicle that my kids have been in with rear seat entertainment that I actually turned on. I feel like a parent should wait as long as they can to open that Pandora’s Box. But I flipped on the navigation screen and they loved it. At night we packed in the back and played the Nintendo Switch. I’ll admit it was fun, and would be perfect backstop for camping trips gone wrong. “FINE! GO PLAY IN THE CAR!”
The range is flat-out amazing. I made the 50-mile trip to the cottage and back like 10 times, and only burned a half tank. I took a picture at about 110 miles, with only an eighth-tank used. Extrapolated we’re looking at an 880-mile range. It might not be that much, but Chevy does say about 728 miles to the tank.
The diesel Suburban shows its best when creeping uphill, backwards, off-road. The wife and I were looking at (trespassing on) vacant land, and when the path got to narrow turn around, I just reversed it a couple hundred yards uphill on muddy grass. The SUV didn’t whine a bit. It was the same with muddy, rutted dirt roads—just ignore them, along with anything else in your path. Towing, for the record, is rated at about 8,000 pounds, depending on equipment.
Which Suburban should you get? Base models come with the 355-hp V8; upgraded models get the 420-hp, 460 lb-ft 6.2-liter V8 and then the diesel. I like the feel of the diesel, and the smooth wave of torque, but it doesn’t sound nearly as good as that 6.2. That V8 both sounds and feels like a hot rod. However, most people are buying the Suburban because of the cavernous space, not the engine. Seriously, you could live in this thing. In that case I’d get the cheapest 4WD version I could find, which looks to be about $56K for the LS trim.
The 3.0-liter diesel-equipped 2021 Chevy Suburban is on sale now and tacks on $995 to the base trim for a price of $53,990. With four-wheel drive it starts at $56,990.
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