Chevrolet's Suburban full-size sport utility vehicle was redesigned for 2007, getting sleeker styling and a choice of V-8 engines with fuel management systems that shut down four cylinders during low-load situations, such as highway cruising or coasting downhill. For 2008, side curtain airbags are standard on all models, and new exterior colors are available. The Suburban 2500 also receives updates with a new transmission and new wheel options.
A rack-and-pinion steering system replaced the previous generation's recirculating ball setup.
The 2008 Suburban is available in a wide variety of payload, drivetrain and trim-level configurations: Regular-duty 1500 and heavy-duty 2500 models come with either rear- or four-wheel drive in base LS, LT and top-of-the-line LTZ trims. The Suburban's GM sibling is the more upscale GMC Yukon XL.
Up front, the Suburban wears a version of Chevrolet's new corporate grille, with an upper and lower section split by a prominent cross-member featuring a Chevy bowtie emblem. Single-frame headlamps replace the stacked headlamps of the previous Suburban, while wraparound lower pieces with integrated fog lights minimize body gaps. New exterior colors for 2008 include Blue Granite Metallic and Deep Ruby Metallic.
Aside from some minor door bump strips, the Suburban's sides are relatively smooth. The squared-off rear has a small roof spoiler, and a power-operated rear liftgate is available on higher trim levels. Parking assistance comes in the form of either an optional sonar proximity warning system or an optional rearview camera. Power-extending running boards are available. New on 2500 models are optional 17-inch wheels.
A Z71 offroad package features larger fog lights, a chrome grille and 18-inch wheels. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard on LS and LT trims, while 20-inch wheels are optional on the LT and standard on the LTZ.
The low, curvaceous dash has chrome rings surrounded by flush-mounted buttons, and the seats have firm cushions. The 2008 Suburban continues to offer seating for up to nine occupants across three rows of seats. First-row occupants gain 3 inches of lateral room, but headroom shrinks slightly in the second row. Third-row passengers relinquish both headroom and legroom.
Cargo volume measures 45.8 cubic feet behind the third row. Third-row seats fold down or can be completely removed, but there isn't a fold-flat feature, as in some other full-size SUVs. Second-row seats fold forward manually, and a power-operated folding mechanism is available on higher trims. With the second row stowed and the third row removed, cargo volume expands to its maximum 137.4 cubic feet. Other options include a navigation system, a rear-seat entertainment system, dual-zone automatic climate control and first- and second-row heated seats.
Under the Hood
The Suburban's drivetrain differs depending on whether a regular-duty 1500 or heavy-duty 2500 series is selected. An iron-block 5.3-liter V-8 making 320 horsepower powers rear-wheel-drive 1500 models, while an all-aluminum version powers four-wheel-drive models and generates 310 hp and 335 pounds-feet of torque. Both are compatible with regular-grade gasoline or E85 ethanol-based fuel. An available all-aluminum 6.0-liter V-8 is rated at 366 hp and 380 pounds-feet of torque. These engines use variable-valve timing and fuel management systems that shut down half the cylinders when power needs are low. The cylinder-deactivation technology is claimed to increase fuel economy by about 10 percent.
Suburban 2500 models are powered by an iron-block version of the 6.0-liter V-8 that features variable-valve timing but not cylinder deactivation; it produces 352 hp and 383 pounds-feet of torque. Suburban 2500 models have a new transmission for 2008, a six-speed automatic. Suburban 1500 models use a four-speed automatic. When properly equipped, a Suburban 2500 can tow up to 9,700 pounds.
All-disc antilock brakes, traction control and GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability system are standard. New standard side curtain airbags cover all three rows of seats and are designed to deploy in a rollover. The front seat belts have pretensioners that can activate in the event of a rear-end collision in addition to the more typical frontal-crash deployment.
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