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2016 Chevy Suburban: Made for Modern Life

By Sue Mead, February 20th, 2016

Chevy isn't an apologist when it comes to extolling the virtues of its half-ton Suburban. After all, the large, body-on-frame American icon commands 75 percent of the market. The extended-length SUV is a modern-day station wagon made for big families; it can seat up to nine and haul their gear. And, with a full pickup truck frame, it's an ideal package for towing horse trailers, motor homes, and recreational vehicles.

The 12th-generation 2016 Chevrolet Suburban was upgraded last year with a collection of new advanced technologies, enhanced ride and drive refinements, and improved fuel economy. Today's model has four doors, offers up to 121.1 cu.-ft. of stowage, and comes in 2WD and 4WD versions that are propelled by a 355-horsepower eight-cylinder engine that can operate on four cylinders to stretch fuel dollars. Additional features include a programmable power-opening liftgate, a rear-view camera, OnStar's 4G LTE mobile hotspot with wireless phone charging capability, and Chevy MyLink which connects such devices as smartphones and tablets to provide music and navigation, real-time traffic, weather, and gas prices.

The Suburban comes in three trim levels: LS, LT, and LTZ, and starts at a base price of $49,700 for 2WDs, and $52,700 for 4WD models (including a $995 destination fee).

We motored the 2016 Suburban in a manner and location befitting of its mission, traveling in Nevada from Reno to Lake Tahoe on narrow and winding two-lanes and then on highways to bustling Sacramento. Knowing we would be encountering snow, we selected a 4WD top-of-the-line and fully-loaded LTZ model.

Updated exterior styling features improved aerodynamics to aid in fuel economy and creates a quieter interior. Power running boards, power heated outside mirrors, power sunroof, and luggage rack side rails are among the available or standard upscale exterior features, depending on trim. Wheel/tire packages include a choice of 18- and 20-inch polished aluminum wheels.

Inside, the cockpit-like cabin offers increased comfort and functionality; it's been redesigned with new materials, pleasant and attractive styling, and clever bins and storage solutions. Greater connectivity comes from MyLink, which has an 8-inch color touchscreen, as well as a new text-to-voice feature or Siri Eyes Free for iPhone. Redesigned, fold-flat second- and third-row seats offer an available power-folding feature. The available or standard (depending on trim) power liftgate can be programmed for different height settings.

Under the hood is a 5.3-liter E85-capable V-8 with Active Fuel Management, variable valve timing, and direct injection that contributes to nearly 10-percent greater highway efficiency. The powerplant boasts 355 horsepower and 383 lb.-ft. of torque and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Towing capacity is rated at 8,300 pounds for 2WD versions and 8,000 pounds for 4WD, while the EPA-rated fuel economy for the 2WD is 16 mpg city, and 23 mpg highway; the 4WD achieves 15/23 mpg. A fully-locking, automatic rear differential is standard on 4WD models, with a rear axle ratio of 3.08:1.

Safety features include a front-seat center airbag (with front bucket seats); adaptive cruise control with crash mitigating braking; side blind zone alert; lane change alert; rear cross traffic alert; forward collision alert; lane departure warning; StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover mitigation technology; and a rearview camera system.


Base price $52,700 (as tested: $73,805)
Curb weight 5,896 lbs.
Displacement 5.3-liter
Engine type OHV V-8 w/DI
Epa mileage rating 15 mpg city, 23 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 31 gal.
Horsepower (net) 355 at 5600 rpm
Overall length 224.4 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 383 at 4100 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 9-passenger 4WD full-size SUV
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