2012 Chevrolet Suburban

Change Year or Vehicle
$12,332–$31,092 Inventory Prices
SAVE
Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
Compare
Back to top

Key Specs

of the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
    Sport Utility
  • Combined MPG:
    12-13 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    352-hp, 6.0-liter V-8 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    4x2
  • Seating:
    7-9 Seats
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Relative gas mileage
  • Seating capacity
  • Cargo room
  • Ride quality with adaptive suspension (1500 LTZ)
  • Roomy second row

The Bad

  • Third row doesn't fold flat
  • Ungainly dimensions
  • Modest acceleration (Suburban 1500)
  • Steering and handling
  • Available front middle seat lacks three-point seat belt

Notable Features of the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban

  • Longer version of Chevrolet Tahoe
  • New trailer-swap control
  • Available 4WD
  • Seats up to nine
  • Tows up to 9,600 pounds (2500 version)

2012 Chevrolet Suburban Road Test

Kelsey Mays

Should SUVs such as the Chevrolet Suburban, a longer version of the Tahoe, be extinct? Faced with gas mileage in the teens, dimensions that hug both lines of a parking space and an outmatched V-8 that huffs more than it hauls, most shoppers will laugh their way to anything else. But for the few who need its capabilities, the Suburban has few peers.

For many, the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban is yesterday's dinosaur, but if you need an SUV of its ilk, it's actually the efficient choice.

The Suburban comes in regular-duty 1500 and heavy-duty 2500 trim levels, though the 2500 is hard to find. Both versions have LS and upscale LT trims; the 1500 gets a top-of-the-line LTZ trim, too. Click here to compare them.

For 2012, the Suburban adds trailer-sway control, but little else has changed. Stack up the 2012 and 2011 Suburban here. Beyond the Tahoe relation, the Suburban 1500 has upscale siblings in the GMC Yukon XL and Cadillac Escalade ESV. We tested Chevrolet's four-wheel-drive Suburban 1500 LTZ.

Efficient, for a Barge
The Suburban 1500 packs a curb weight of nearly 3 tons, for which GM's familiar 5.3-liter V-8 is no match. The SUV picks up speed at a leisurely pace, needing a good prod on the gas for enough passing oomph. In city driving, pronounced accelerator lag plays into the torpor: Things start off gradually, and any call for immediate power is met with initial hesitation. It's curious because our last Tahoe, by contrast, had no such accelerator issues.

The Chevrolet Suburb...

Should SUVs such as the Chevrolet Suburban, a longer version of the Tahoe, be extinct? Faced with gas mileage in the teens, dimensions that hug both lines of a parking space and an outmatched V-8 that huffs more than it hauls, most shoppers will laugh their way to anything else. But for the few who need its capabilities, the Suburban has few peers.

For many, the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban is yesterday's dinosaur, but if you need an SUV of its ilk, it's actually the efficient choice.

The Suburban comes in regular-duty 1500 and heavy-duty 2500 trim levels, though the 2500 is hard to find. Both versions have LS and upscale LT trims; the 1500 gets a top-of-the-line LTZ trim, too. Click here to compare them.

For 2012, the Suburban adds trailer-sway control, but little else has changed. Stack up the 2012 and 2011 Suburban here. Beyond the Tahoe relation, the Suburban 1500 has upscale siblings in the GMC Yukon XL and Cadillac Escalade ESV. We tested Chevrolet's four-wheel-drive Suburban 1500 LTZ.

Efficient, for a Barge
The Suburban 1500 packs a curb weight of nearly 3 tons, for which GM's familiar 5.3-liter V-8 is no match. The SUV picks up speed at a leisurely pace, needing a good prod on the gas for enough passing oomph. In city driving, pronounced accelerator lag plays into the torpor: Things start off gradually, and any call for immediate power is met with initial hesitation. It's curious because our last Tahoe, by contrast, had no such accelerator issues.

The Chevrolet Suburban's standard six-speed automatic finds the right gear more often than not, but even as the V-8 roars to its highest revs, the acceleration is modest. At least it's a consistent sensation, regardless of load: Five adults and a few weekend bags invoked similar performance. So would, I suspect, ditching four-wheel drive, which saves 152 pounds — a sliver of the SUV's tonnage. Either way, GM needs to mix a stronger drink next time around. This 'burban is weak.

Of course, the Chevrolet Suburban's only direct competitor — the extended-length Ford Expedition, called the Expedition EL — is pretty weak, too. Lead-footed haulers should look to the 5.7-liter Toyota Sequoia, which is a closer competitor to the Tahoe but far swifter in the passing lane. The Suburban's passing torpor is forgivable, given the drivetrain's best-in-class EPA rating of 15/21 mpg city/highway with rear- or four-wheel drive. That beats the others by 1 to 3 mpg, which is nothing to sneeze at when mileage is in the teens. Still, make sure you need the truck-based Chevy's towing capacity. If not, car-based crossover SUVs and minivans are rated 2 to 6 mpg better in combined driving, with lower starting prices to boot.

Towing capability comes out to 8,100 pounds in the Chevrolet Suburban LTZ, which beats the Sequoia but loses to the Expedition EL by 1,100 pounds. The Chevrolet Suburban 2500, meanwhile, beats the group with 9,600 pounds of capacity. It has a 6.0-liter V-8, which cranks out 352 horsepower and 382 pounds-feet of torque — 32 more hp and 47 more pounds-feet than the 1500's V-8 — and returns 12 mpg in combined city/highway ratings.

Less forgivable is the Suburban's tentative composure. Boatlike handling comes with the territory, and the SUV corners like its nautical full-size SUV peers. But in other situations, the steering still disappoints. At low speeds, the power assist finds pockets of sudden stiffness; on the highway, it feels over-assisted and jittery. Ride comfort — a longtime strength in GM's trucks — is excellent in the 1500 LTZ, which gets an optional adaptive suspension, but the need for constant, fidgety corrections brings its own brand of road-trip fatigue.

Utility
See our Tahoe review for major impressions of the interior. The 
Chevrolet Suburban gets an extra 14 inches of wheelbase and nearly 2 feet of length, which goes toward the third row and cargo area. Third-row legroom increases a huge 9.3 inches, making it habitable for adults, if not as generous as the Expedition EL's legroom. Cargo room behind all the seats, meanwhile, totals 45.8 cubic feet. That's comparable to the EL's, and nearly three times what the Tahoe has. Remove the 50/50-split third-row seats — a hefty 50 pounds for each section — and fold down the second row, and maximum cargo volume is a crossover-beating 137.4 cubic feet. Most minivans have upward of 140 cubic feet, but achieving that often requires removing second-row seats, which is an equally onerous task: The captain's chairs in a Honda Odyssey weigh 55 pounds apiece.

The Chevrolet Suburban seats seven to nine, depending on the layout. The first and second rows come as bucket seats or a three-position bench, while the third row has the bench only. We recommend against the front bench, however, as the center position lacks frontal airbag coverage and gets only a lap seat belt. It's odd because the second- and third-row center seats have three-point belts.

Safety, Features & Pricing
The Suburban hasn't been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rates the 1500 four out of five stars overall. The SUV earned top ratings in frontal and side impacts but just a three-star rollover rating. (Three stars is the norm for truck-based SUV rollover resistance, but the Expedition and Sequoia buck the trend with four-star ratings.) The Suburban 2500 hasn't been crash-tested.

Standard features include head-protecting side airbags for all three rows, plus the required antilock brakes and electronic stability system. Click here for a full list or here to see our evaluation of child-seat provisions in the Tahoe.

The Chevrolet Suburban 1500 starts just over $43,000 (including a destination charge of $995), with the 2500 running another $1,610. Standard features include tri-zone manual climate control, partial power front seats, a USB/iPod-friendly stereo and Bluetooth cellphone connectivity but not audio streaming. Heated and cooled leather seats, fully powered seat adjustments, a heated steering wheel, rear DVD entertainment and a navigation system are optional. A factory-loaded 2500 LT tops out near $60,000, and the 1500 LTZ can reach around $65,000.

Suburban in the Market
The justification behind full-size SUVs has worn thin over the years as buyers have switched to more-efficient crossovers: In the early 2000s, GM was pushing more than 115,000 Suburbans a year. Last year, the automaker sold 49,427. Still, the Suburban is the best-selling full-size SUV, with sales in the first five months of this year up 18 percent, outpacing the market's gains. In fact, if you were to combine the Suburban with its Tahoe sibling — as Ford does for the Expedition and Expedition EL — they would be 45th best-selling vehicle in America through May.

No doubt some full-size SUV shoppers are buying more car than they need, but the sales tell an undeniable truth: A certain chunk of drivers still need V-8 towing capacity with a minivan's appetite for people and cargo, and enough of them exist for the segment to stick around.

So the Chevrolet Suburban will continue, as it should.

Send Kelsey an email  

 


Latest 2012 Suburban Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.5)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.4)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.3)

What Drivers Are Saying

(4.0)

Great Truck

by Mustafa Syed on July 27, 2018

An overall wonderful and well rounded truck. Good for hauling people and things. The 2012 body style was definitely one of the best designed ones there were. Read full review

(5.0)

Best vehicle ever built. Built to last with style.

by Texas Cowboy from Fort Worth on July 5, 2018

Best veichle for my money. Spacious, stylish, country comfort. Texas BIG! Third one I've owned and thrilled to have purchased the 2012 model. Gotta love it! Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Chevrolet Suburban currently has 2 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2012 Chevrolet Suburban has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 100,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Chevrolet

Program Benefits

Two Factory-Backed Warranties, CPO Scheduled Maintenance Program, Vehicle Inspection & Reconditioning, 3-Day/150-Mile Vehicle Exchange Program, 24/7 Roadside Assistance and Courtesy Transportation, OnStar & SiriusXM Satellite Radio Trial Offers, and a Carfax Vehicle History Report

  • Limited Warranty

    Two Factory-Backed Warranties

    6-Year/100,000-Mile, Powertrain Limited Warranty and a 12- Month/12,000-Miles, Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty, both with $0 deductible
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 75,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 172-Point Inspection & Reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

Change Year or Vehicle

0 / 0 0 Photos
0 / 0

Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Suburban received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker