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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Chevrolet Suburban Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Chevrolet Suburban Overview

The Suburban really helped start the SUV craze. For decades now, families who needed to tow a camper, ski boat or horse trailer have turned to the Suburban to get the job done. Of course, for decades the Suburban faced competition only from its sister-vehicle at GMC, ironically also named Suburban. Today, the Suburban faces any number of competitors, both within and outside of the GM family. Yet with all the choices open to them, Americans continue to return to the Suburban in record numbers (GM tells us that the Suburban has a better than 50% repeat buyer rate).

No one will dispute that the Suburban is a big vehicle, but for all its bulk, it is surprisingly manageable. The first thing you'll notice after you step up into the big Chevy is how much visibility you have. The tall seating position and moderate hood length are a great help, but it is the Suburban's vast glass greenhouse that allows you to know where all objects are relative to your position; this is especially helpful when backing up or maneuvering with a trailer attached. The oversized side-view mirrors also cover a large area on either side of the Suburban, virtually eliminating blind spots. On the 2500 model, the new Quadrasteer all-wheel steering system reduces the Suburban's turning radius from 45 feet to just a fraction over 35 feet. This is truly a major advance for a full-sized SUV and is sure to win over anyone who has ever had the unnerving experience of backing a trailer into a tight spot.

There are two trim levels within the Suburban line: the LS and LT. Both LS and LT models are available in either 2WD or 4WD and in ton (1500) or ton (2500) configurations. The base 1500 comes equipped with a 5.3-liter V8 engine that makes 285 horsepower and 325 lbs.-ft. of torque. With a tow rating of 8400 lbs. (2WD), the base 1500 will probably more than suffice for most people's needs. If you do need more power and torque, then you should be looking at the 2500; its standard engine is a 6.0-liter V8 rated at 230 horsepower and 360 lbs.-ft. of torque and its optional 8.1-liter V8 engine is rated at a staggering 340 horsepower and 455-lbs.-ft. of torque. If this vehicle cannot move what you've got, you need to be looking at something with 18-wheels.

One other note about the 1500; its 5.3-liter V8 achieves a pretty respectable fuel rating on the open highway. Our 4WD LT returned an average of 17 miles per gallon, which is pretty impressive for a vehicle of this size. Of course we were not fully-loaded and that was on a level surface with the cruise set at 65, but it is possible.

Thanks to improvements made last year, the Suburban enjoys a much friendlier relationship with the road. Both the steering response and the feel of the brake pedal have been greatly improved compared to that of the prior generation. New for this year are the electrically-adjustable brake and accelerator pedals that can be moved up to three inches in either a forward or rearward direction. For 2004, all Suburbans now feature GM's StabiliTrak system that greatly aids the driver in keeping control of the vehicle during almost all emergency situations. The Suburban has also been equipped with a new tire-pressure monitoring system and a passenger-seat sensing airbag that shuts off when no one is occupying the front seat. The passenger-sensing airbag can also sense when the occupant is too small to safely deploy the airbag.

The Suburban's suspension, engine and braking improvements—along with the new stability, traction control and all-wheel steering option—deliver to the driver a feeling of complete control. The Suburban now feels very composed on the road; it's easier to navigate and handles particularly well for its size even when executing quick lane changes.

The Suburban's substantial size translates into substantial space for passengers and cargo. With seating for up to 9 people, the Suburban can certainly carry its fair share of passengers. Even with the third row seat in place, the Suburban can still carry over 45 cubic-feet of cargo; 90 cubic-feet when the third row seat is removed. To give you an idea of how much volume that is, consider that the massive trunk of a full-sized Lincoln Town Car, which can gobble up 4 full sets of golf clubs, measures a mere 21.1 cubic-feet; with all of its seats removed, the Suburban touts an impressive 131.6 cubic feet of cargo volume. New this year is a set of optional second-row captain's chairs; the captain's chairs can also be removed should you need your Suburban to pull double duty as a pickup truck.

Also new for 2004 is a rear seat infotainment system option that includes a DVD player with a flip-down video screen and remote headsets. Other options include a Bose audio system, XM satellite radio and an upgraded version of the OnStar system. In the area of creature comforts, you can opt for a tri-zone air conditioning system that allows the driver, passenger and rear seat passengers to choose their own temperature settings; dual front side-impact airbags are now optional.

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