With the Suburban no longer the biggest sport utility vehicle, Chevrolet is positioning its redesigned 2000 model as "the right size" and "able to fit into the average-size garage." The new Ford Excursion has usurped Suburban's status as the biggest SUV with a 7-inch advantage in length, so Chevy is touting gains in interior room instead.
This is a far cry from previous years when the greater than full-size Suburban was a class of one and the unofficial official car of Texas. GMC offers a similar model as the Yukon XL. The first Suburban was a 1935 model that Chevrolet says pioneered the SUV market segment, a point that Jeep argues. It is the oldest model name in use in the United States.
Chevy says the new Suburban's interior meets or beats the old in virtually every dimension for passenger room, though it loses about 11 cubic feet of cargo volume, dropping to 138.4. For those keeping score, that's eight cubic feet less than the Ford Excursion.
Like the Excursion, the Suburban can hold a 4-by-8 plywood sheet. Seating for nine is the maximum, same as before, but optional seating arrangements include two buckets for the front and the middle row (a new feature). The middle and rear bench seats fold for additional cargo room and are removable, with integrated wheels on the rear seat saving some backstrain. The spare tire has been moved from the cargo area to underneath the vehicle, which helps free up interior room.
Side-impact airbags for the front seats are a new standard feature. General Motors's OnStar satellite navigation and communication system is standard on the LT model, the most expensive Suburban, which also comes with leather upholstery. A power sunroof is a new option for LS and LT models.
At 219.3 inches, the new Suburban is almost an inch shorter than the 1999 incarnation, but height and width have increased about two inches. Access to the cargo area is through either an aluminum liftgate or swing-out cargo doors, a no-cost option Suburban has offered for years.
Under the Hood
Two new V-8 engines power the Suburban. A 285-horsepower, 5.3-liter is the base engine and a 300-horsepower, 6.0-liter is used in heavy-duty models. Both are gasoline engines; a diesel V-8 is expected for 2001. The 4WD models come with Autotrac, which engages automatically when more traction is needed. With the 6.0-liter engine, Suburban tows trailers up to 10,500 pounds.