Chevrolet’s classic full-size, extended-length SUV has been around since 1935 (one could even say it was the first in its class). The company is back at it again in 2017, offering up some new and improved features and performance for the family-oriented vehicle.
In This Guide
- Seating Capacity & 3rd Row Room
- What’s New in 2017?
- Performance and Fuel Economy
- Entertainment and Comfort
- Trim Options and Pricing
- Driving Impressions
- The Competition
Coming in at 224 inches (18’8″) long with a starting price of $49,915, the Chevy Suburban is not a vehicle for the faint-of-heart in size or price. That said, a potential buyer enjoys a lot of features for his or her hard-earned dollar. For all the features that have largely remained the same over previous models, there are a number of welcome changes to be had, as well. Let’s take a look at both.
Seating Capacity & 3rd Row Room
This allows the vehicle to carry nine passengers (with luggage) while simultaneously towing over 8,000 pounds, all without so much as even a whimper.
As is generally expected for a vehicle of this size and class, the Suburban does feature third-row seating and, while it’s a marked improvement over previous models’ implementations, this row is generally recommended for children or shorter adults on long trips.
Perhaps the best thing about the improved third-row seating, however, is a feature that has been sorely lacking from the Suburban up to this point, which is the ability to finally fold the row of seating flat, allowing for additional cargo space. Other competing vehicles in this class have had this feature for years (including GM’s own Cadillac Escalade), so it’s nice to finally see these features “trickle down” to more “mainstream” vehicles (at least, as mainstream as a giant SUV can be).
What’s New in 2017?
Unlike previous models, this year’s Suburban no longer shares the same sheet metal with the Silverado, though it does still share the same engine. The 2017 model also sports electric power steering. While many may criticize the way it feels, General Motors claims that this can improve fuel economy, although specific details regarding the scenarios in which it can do so, as well as by how much, are not made clear.
Performance and Fuel Economy
As stated previously, the new Suburban comes with the same engine as the Chevy Silverado. This is a 5.3L V8 engine sporting 383 lb-ft of torque, 355 horsepower, and a six-speed transmission, resulting in the Suburban accelerating from 0-60mph in 7.1 seconds, which is pretty respectable given the weight and size class.
The 2017 model also boasts slightly improved fuel economy of 16 city and 22 highway miles per gallon, as opposed to 14/19 in the previous model. Chevy claims this is due to the electric power steering, but evidence of this cannot be found. This fuel economy is competitive with other vehicles in its class, including the Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and Ford Expedition, though not necessarily surpassing these vehicles.
Entertainment and Comfort
In terms of creature comforts, the climate control has been calibrated to be more accurate and features more granular control, the touchscreen entertainment/navigation interface in the center of the extra-wide console has been both enlarged and improved in its responsiveness and display clarity, and the vehicle now sports LTE- and Wi-Fi-ready packages, though those aren’t included in the base price.
In addition to these new features, the Suburban also comes with many other standard amenities you’d expect from a modern luxury vehicle–Bluetooth 4.0 LE (low energy), headphone input, and five USB inputs. Furthermore, it contains an impressive six-speaker audio system that delivers high-fidelity surround sound. You would need to opt for much more expensive and premium vehicles from the likes of Audi and Cadillac to match or exceed these audio specifications. Those speakers, paired with the on-board satellite and HD radio, makes for a truly premium and impressive audio experience.
As for the climate control, it features three zones for seat and air temperature–one for each row of seats.
Rounding out the creature comforts, Apple has partnered with General Motors over the last few years to enable iPod compatibility and Apple CarPlay into most modern GM vehicles, and the Suburban is no exception. Siri in the Car, however, is seemingly nowhere to be found. The omission of this feature is a bit of a mystery, but perhaps Chevrolet thought it would be redundant due to the already-included navigation and “infotainment” console included in all models.
For all of the things this classic SUV does right, J.D. Power and Associates doesn’t seem to think safety is necessarily one of them. The 2017 Suburban rates lower than average on their scale compared to other vehicles in its class. This seems to be a bit of an oddity, though, as Chevy’s own Tahoe (a vehicle with which the Suburban largely shares its design) rates quite highly.
Trim Options and Pricing
Chevrolet offers the Suburban in three “tiers” on their website: LS, LT, and Premier.
The LS model starts at $49,915, and comes with most of the creature comforts listed above, with the exceptions of heated seating (the general climate control is still present) and the adaptive suspension.
The LT model (starting at $55,045) adds leather upholstery, heated seating (but only in the front), low-speed automatic braking, and forward-facing collision warning sensors.
The Premier model is a whopping $64,730 and adds the adaptive suspension detailed above, as well as fully-heated seating, a camera for blind-spot monitoring, semi-automatic parking (previously only available from GM in the Cadillac Escalade), and a hands-free liftgate.
As mentioned earlier, the 2017 Suburban now comes with electric power steering. While this allows for a slight improvement in fuel economy (at least according to Chevrolet’s claims), many reviewers lament this change, as they comment on the added stiffness and general difficulty of granular control this feature causes. That said, the general impression is that most people will likely not notice much of a difference. After all, the Suburban is a large, heavy vehicle, and is generally not expected to be the easiest in the world to handle. That said, a driver should be careful when in tight spaces, especially if they aren’t used to toting around large SUVs like the Suburban.
With that minor hiccup out of the way, the driving experience is otherwise superior to previous models, thanks in no small part to a new terrain management system (also found in most of Chevy’s new trucks) involving automatic suspension adjustments made by software algorithms that detect both the environment and the weight of the passengers and cargo in the vehicle. This system allows for a smoother driving experience than was had in previous models.
Competition in this class seems to be growing slimmer, likely due to families in the United States generally becoming smaller. Many of the other vehicles in this class also come from General Motors, such as the aforementioned Tahoe (though technically in a different class) and the GMC Yukon (largely a re-branded Suburban).
The Ford Expedition is the most immediate competitor to the Suburban. The Expedition’s base price is a bit lower than the Suburban’s, at around $47,000, but lacks many of the creature comforts that the Suburban has in its base model, such as climate control and its entertainment-centered tablet console.
Ford requires you to step up to the $56,000 configuration to obtain these features, which is a hefty premium over the base Suburban. However, the main difference between the two comes down to towing performance; Ford rates the towing capacity of the Expedition at a full 1,000 pounds more than the Suburban (9,200 lbs. vs. 8,200 lbs.).
So, a recommendation for the Suburban comes down to your use case. If you need a no-nonsense vehicle to both seat your family and tow over 9,000 pounds, the Expedition is the vehicle for you. If, however, you’re looking for a great family vehicle for taking long road trips, and you are already planning to fork over some extra cash for the extra goodies the Suburban provides, then the 2017 Chevy Suburban is a solid choice.
What to Read Next
- Complete List of 7+ Passenger Vehicles
- 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe Review
- 2017 Ford Explorer Review
- 2017 GMC Acadia Review
Over to You
Thinking of buying a Chevrolet Suburban? Already own one? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!