Competitor Showcase: The 2009 Chevrolet Suburban
Considering a Chevy Suburban? Drive These SUVs Before You Buy.
For several decades the Chevrolet Suburban stood alone and unchallenged as the full-size SUV of choice for individuals, families and companies who needed to combine expansive cargo and passenger room with 4x4 capabilities and an enormous towing capacity. For most of its early life, the Suburban stayed fairly utilitarian but the last few generations of the SUV have seen it grow into a much more fully-featured truck. The 2009 Chevrolet Suburban can now be ordered with a full range of luxury options that make it almost as comfortable to drive as its Cadillac Escalade cousin. Of course, it can also be stripped down to satisfy the needs of corporate clients or small business owners, making it quite a versatile vehicle.
In addition to providing seating for up to 9 passengers and a cavernous 137 cubic feet of total cargo room, the 2009 Chevrolet Suburban also offers the choice of three different V8 engines. The first two are variations on a 5.3 liter unit, both of which produce 310 horsepower and 335 lb-ft of torque with one offering a Flex Fuel option. The top of the line engine is a 6.0 liter unit that cranks out 366 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. All are yoked to a 6-speed automatic transmission, and the vehicle can also be ordered with four-wheel drive. Starting at $40,370, the Suburban can be outfitted with a variety of different suspension and off-road packages, as well configured to tow up to an impressive 9,600 lbs.
The 2009 Chevrolet Suburban rules the roost when it comes to the trifecta of towing, people moving and cargo hauling. That being said, it certainly faces a host of tough competitors eager to move in on its loyal customer base. This article talks about four other trucks you need to drive before deciding to purchase the Chevrolet Suburban.
2009 Ford Expedition - MSRP $34,845
If the Suburban could be said to have a nemesis, it would be the 2009 Ford Expedition. Conceived in the 90's to match the Chevrolet pound for pound in the performance department, the cheaper Expedition and the extended Expedition EL manage to come very close to the Suburban in a number of categories. Like the Suburban, Ford's large SUV can be ordered in entry-level trim that includes cloth seats, running boards and roof rails, or upgraded to the hilt via the King Ranch edition, which throws in Chaparral leather and goodies like navigation and a power fold-flat third row seat. The Expedition can accommodate up to 8 passengers, dropping one to the Suburban, and it offers 130 cubic feet of total storage in the EL model.
The 2009 Ford Expedition also comes up a bit short in the power department. The only available engine is a 5.4 liter, 300 horsepower V8 that also provides 365 lb-ft of torque. Matched with a 6-speed automatic, the power plant might not offer the same peak horsepower as the Chevrolet but its excellent torque means it is still capable of towing 9,000 lbs when equipped with the proper towing package. The Expedition's electronically controlled four-wheel drive system can also be used on dry pavement without worrying about damaging the system, which is a plus for those who live in areas where weather conditions can change at the drop of a hat.
The 2009 Ford Expedition is a legitimate competitor for the Chevrolet Suburban. It might not be as big inside or boast as much power, but its towing and design make it the closest thing to a Suburban on the market not actually wearing a bowtie on the grille. The cheaper price also helps to give it more appeal to shoppers on a tighter budget.
2009 Toyota Land Cruiser - MSRP $64,755
Not many people think of Toyota when it comes time to purchase a road-going behemoth, but the company has been quietly producing one of the most competent SUV's ever built for over 50 years. The 2009 Toyota Land Cruiser might take a bit of a detour towards the luxury side of the spectrum when compared to its predecessors, but the big SUV is still an off-road master as well as a capable people mover. The Land Cruiser seats 8 occupants and features interior equipment that borders on Lexus levels of luxury. Front and rear climate controls, a glass moonroof, heated leather seats and parking assist are all standard equipment. The Land Cruiser comes loaded in its single trim level and offers only a smattering of options for personalization. While it might be extremely comfortable to ride in, the vehicle can only swallow 81 cubic feet of cargo - not bad, but not nearly at the same level as the Suburban.
What the 2009 Toyota Land Cruiser lacks in interior volume, it makes up for in pure brawn. The vehicle's 5.7 liter V8 blows away the Suburban from a power standpoint, as it generates 381 ponies and 401 lb-ft of torque, all of which is transmitted to the vehicle's full-time four-wheel drive system via a 6-speed automatic transmission. This helps to give the SUV a towing capacity of 8,500 lbs, which is more than respectable. The Land Cruiser is also a very capable off-road vehicle, and it offers a host of electronic helpers along with a rugged suspension system to get the truck from point A to point B no matter what might stand in the way.
The 2009 Toyota Land Cruiser is significantly more expensive than the Suburban - in fact, you can buy one and a half base model Chevys for the price of the Toyota. However, outfitting the Suburban with the level of gear found in the Land Cruiser quickly pushes the price past the $50,000 mark, putting the vehicles on more even footing and making a comparison much more sensible.
2009 Dodge Durango - MSRP $28,130
After spending most of its early years as a mid-size contender, the 2009 Dodge Durango has graduated into the big leagues thanks to a larger chassis and greatly expanded mission. Updates made back in 2004 finally enabled the Durango to stand alongside the Expedition and the Suburban and not look as though it is seriously outclassed or out of place. The Durango is not quite as luxury oriented as some of the other trucks on this list, but it does offer the option to install leather seats, a rear DVD entertainment system, navigation and the MyGIG digital entertainment system that features a hard drive for music storage. The SUV can seat 8 passengers and can swallow 107 cubic feet of cargo - less than its domestic competitors but more than the Land Cruiser.
In the engine compartment, the Durango diverges significantly from the Suburban. To begin with, the base engine is a 3.7 liter V6 that only provides 210 horsepower and 235 lb-ft of torque. The next step up is a 4.7 liter V8 that can generate a more respectable 303 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. The king of the power hill is the company's 5.7 liter, 365 horsepower HEMI V8, which also grinds out a sizable 390 lb-ft of torque. However, the Durango also offers a hybrid edition of its HEMI that uses an electrical motor to reduce fuel consumption while still keeping horsepower at a healthy level: 345 ponies in total along with 380 lb-ft of torque. A 4-speed automatic transmission backs the V6 while all other engines get a 5-speed auto. Maximum towing capacity for the Durango is 9,000 lbs.
The 2009 Dodge Durango still might look a bit smaller than the Suburban, and its bulky styling isn't for everyone, but the fact that it can be ordered in hybrid trim will divert a lot of would-be Chevrolet buyers into Dodge showrooms.
2009 Jeep Commander - MSRP $29,380
The 2009 Jeep Commander is the newest vehicle on this list. Released in 2006, the Commander takes over the top spot in the Jeep lineup that was previously held by the now-second banana Grand Cherokee. The Commander's square styling is reminiscent of the older Cherokee look, and it stands apart from other full-size SUV's thanks to its simplicity. The interior is not quite as large as it could be, with only 69 cubic feet of total cargo space, and the vehicle can seat 7 passengers, which makes it the least accommodating of the 5 discussed here. However, it can be ordered in Overland trim which fills the cabin with a number of features that will make sure all occupants have a pleasant and comfortable journey, no matter how far off of the beaten path they venture.
Leaving the roads behind is what Jeeps do best, and the Commander is fortunately no exception. While it does provide a two-wheel drive trim level, the vehicle is best enjoyed with four-wheel drive installed and the optional trail-rated suspension holding everything together. The 2009 Jeep Commander features essentially the same engine choices as the Durango, minus the hybrid - a 210 horsepower V6, a 305 horsepower, 4.7 liter V8 and of course a 357 horsepower version of the 5.7 liter Hemi V8. The V6 sees a 4-speed auto while the V8's are upgraded to a 5-speed automatic transmission. The Commander can tow up to 7,400 lbs, and drivers will appreciate the availability of an anti-trailer sway feature.
The 2009 Jeep Commander is smaller and less capable than the Suburban when it comes the three major criteria on this list. However, it does offer a high degree of off-road maneuverability and go-anywhere design that the Chevrolet lacks. This helps to make it a decent compromise for anyone who needs a full-size SUV but who doesn't want to have to give up their muddy weekend play dates.