Chevrolets king-size SUV was redesigned last year and gets powertrain enhancements and a new Z71 offroad package for 2001. Suburban is a corporate twin of the GMC Yukon XL, and both are built off of General Motors full-size pickup truck, the Silverado, which also spawned the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon SUVs.
The optional Z71 Package, a popular item on the Silverado pickup, includes a firmer suspension; 17-inch wheels and tires; tubular side steps; wheel flares and lower body moldings; color-keyed grille, mirrors and bumpers; and the OnStar communication system.
Suburban is the oldest model name in use in the United States, appearing first on a 1935 model that Chevrolet says pioneered the SUV market.
At 219.3 inches, the Suburban is 7 inches shorter than the Ford Excursion, which now claims the title as the biggest SUV. Chevy counters by describing the Suburban as the right size and able to fit into average-size garages. All models come with four side doors and either an aluminum liftgate or dual swing-out cargo doors, a free option.
Seats for nine is the maximum from a trio of three-place bench seats. Optional arrangements include two buckets for the front and the middle row. The middle and rear bench seats fold for additional cargo room and are removable, with built-in wheels on the rear seat saving some back strain.
Cargo volume is 138.4 cubic feet with the middle and rear seats removed (nearly 8 cubic feet less than the Ford Excursion), but the Suburban matches the Excursion in being able to carry a 4x8 plywood sheet. There is 46 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat.
Under the Hood
Three V-8 engines are available. A 285-horsepower 5.3-liter is the base engine for the 1500 series. A 6.0-liter V-8 with 300 hp is standard in the 2500 series, and an 8.1-liter V-8 with 340 hp is a new option. All engines come with a four-speed automatic transmission.
The 4WD models come with Autotrac, which engages automatically when more traction is needed. Suburban tows trailers up to 12,000 pounds with the optional 8.1-liter V-8 engine. Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard on all models.