Chevrolet's iconic Suburban full-size sport utility vehicle is all-new for 2007, sporting 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. General Motors claims the system adds significant fuel economy gains.
Other notable developments include a rack-and-pinion steering system that replaces the previous generation's outdated recirculating ball setup, and available side curtain-type airbags for all three rows of seats.
Like the previous version, the 2007 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; both hit showrooms in spring 2006.
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 fascias with integrated fog lights minimize body gaps. 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 will be available later in the model year.
A Z71 offroad package, available in fall 2006, 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.
A lower, more curvaceous dash replaces the previous Suburban's trucklike one. Chrome rings surround flush-mounted buttons, and the seats have firmer cushions for better support. Like its predecessor, the 2007 Suburban continues to offer seating for up to nine occupants across three rows of seats. First-row occupants gain three 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 powers rear-wheel-drive 1500 models, while an all-aluminum version powers four-wheel-drive models; both engines generate 320 horsepower and 340 pounds-feet of torque and are compatible with regular-grade gasoline or E85 ethanol-based fuel. Available later in 2006 is an all-aluminum 6.0-liter V-8 rated at 355 hp and 365 pounds-feet of torque. These engines utilize 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 350 hp and 360 pounds-feet of torque.
The only transmission offered is a four-speed automatic. When properly equipped, Suburbans can tow up to 8,100 pounds.
All-disc antilock brakes, traction control and GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability system are standard. Optional side curtain-type 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.