The 2016 Chevrolet Suburban is the latest in a long line of fullsize SUVs and, in fact, wears the longest-running nameplate in automotive history: The first Suburban hit the road—and left it, too—back in 1935. Demand since then has been so high that Chevy hasn’t stopped building them yet. And unlike some of its competitors, the Suburban is still being built using body-on-frame construction, so it has all of the robust capabilities expected from a true sport-utility vehicle. Moreover, the Suburban isn’t just a fullsize SUV. It’s one of the biggest vehicles on the market, with space inside for up to nine occupants, plus gear. At the same time, On the other hand, the rough-and-ready Suburban can be surprisingly sophisticated, complete with a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.
2016 Chevrolet Suburban Road Test and Review
Pricing: Big vehicle, big MSRP
No surprise: A vehicle this big has a big MSRP. The 2016 Chevrolet Suburban LT is the midgrade trim, and its starting price is $54,730. But its top rival, the extended-length Ford Expedition, is priced yet higher in its corresponding trim level. Do remember that the Suburban has a lot of content in common with premium sports cars and upscale sedans, yet it has much more in the way of strength and carrying capability. And there’s no shortage of power under the hood, thanks to a standard V8. Standard luxuries include leather seating, premium audio and infotainment systems, and multiple high-tech driver-assistance measures.
Photo Credit: General Motors
Power, Performance and Efficiency
A 5.3-liter V8 and 6-speed automatic transmission are standard on the 2016 Chevrolet Suburban LT, which boasts 355 horsepower and 383 lb.-ft. of torque. In pulling power, the towing maximum for the 2016 Suburban in its standard rear-wheel-drive configuration is 8300 lb.; with available four-wheel drive, the SUV can haul 8000 lb. All that brawn is backed by direct injection, cylinder deactivation and other powertrain technologies to turn in best-in-class fuel-economy grades: 16 MPG city/23 MPG highway/19 MPG combined. The Blue Oval competition trails those marks by 1 or 2 MPG in each category despite its EcoBoost engine, and the EPA ratings for both the Toyota and Nissan three-row SUVs are down at 15 MPG in combined driving.
Exterior Design and Lighting
Stretching 224.4 inches, the 2016 Chevrolet Suburban is some three feet longer than a typical midsize sedan, and Chevy designers accentuate that presence with a high side character line and sheer, cliff-like flanks. The headlights—automatic Intellibeam units in the LT trim—get special treatment: Projections from the side sheet metal create a dual-wing look for the lamp lenses. An additional upgrade for the LT edition is a standard power liftgate. A programmable power liftgate is optional. Also optional for the LT are nine upsized wheel designs. The Suburban LT rolls on standard 18-inch aluminum wheels with a bright machined finish, while two 20-inch styles and seven sets of massive 22-inchers are on the accessories menu. Roof-mounted luggage-rack side rails, side assist steps, and heated outside mirrors are all standard.
Interior Design and Capacities
If you’re interested in vehicles that can fit both large families and their cargo—at the same time—this section of our Chevrolet Suburban LT test andf review should catch your attention. After all, the Suburban can fit almost 40 cubic feet of gear behind its third row, 76.7 behind the second, and 121.1 behind the first—with both back rows folded. Don’t forget: The Suburban can hold up to three occupants in each of its three rows, although the LT, with standard leather-trimmed front bucket seats, has an eight-person capacity. Also worthy of attention are standard premium cues such as a leather-trimmed, multi-function steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Suburban LT’s five auxiliary power outlets are onboard as well, to bolster the infotainment and technology features detailed next.
Infotainment and Audio
Adding value to the price of the 2016 Chevrolet Suburban LT are Chevy’s top infotainment technologies. Indeed, a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, 4G LTE connectivity, an 8-inch touchscreen, voice recognition, Bluetooth connectivity, five USB ports and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration are standard across the Suburban lineup, with Android Auto expected by the end of the year. The LT trim complements those resources with an uplevel 9-speaker sound system by Bose. Here, a center-console subwoofer, SurroundStage signal-processing circuitry, and AudioPilot noise-compensation tech combine to enable a premium listening experience. It’s also worth noting that among the Suburban's multiple powerpoints and USB ports is a grounded, three-prong 110-volt outlet. Require rear-seat entertainment? An optional dual-screen setup meets that need.
Safety Ratings and Technology
Although neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has evaluated the Suburban for crash-test safety, the 2016 Chevrolet Suburban LT with its Enhanced Driver Alert Package provides technologies like forward collision alert, lane-keeping assistance, and the GM Safety Alert Seat; it physically warns the driver of possibly unseen vehicles with directionally based seat pulses. A rearview camera, rear parking assistance, and a suite of OnStar-enabled telematics, such as Automatic Crash Response, Crisis Assist, and Emergency Services, are standard for yet more driver confidence. Chevy also allows customers to order rear cross-traffic alert, side blind-zone alert and front parking assistance for the LT, so folks don’t have to move up to the range-topping LTZ trim for yet higher levels of safety tech.
Photo Credit: General Motors
The 2016 Chevrolet Suburban LT has a dedicated appearance bundle: the aptly named LT Signature Package. Key touches include lots of chrome—on the 20-in. wheels, the recovery hooks, and the assist steps. Other eye-catching exterior accents are the SUV’s bright bodyside moldings. Meanwhile, Chevy furnishes a wide range of other upgrade packages for the Suburban LT as well. For instance, rugged design and capability are the order of the day with the Z71 Off-Road Package, backed by a high-performance suspension, special skid plates, Z71 18-inch wheels and package-exclusive styles cues. The Bowtie brand also showcases an LT luxury package highlighted by heated/ventilated front seats, a heated second row, and a power-folding third row.
Other Important Information
As a body-on-frame SUV, the 2016 Chevy Suburban LT was built to take more punishment than a typical crossover, and with that in mind, it can tackle serious trail-work with its available 4-wheel drive. In this sytem, which has an Autotrac active transfer case, drivers can choose between rear-wheel-drive, automatic and full-time 4-wheel-drive operation; for more challenging conditions, an optional 2-speed transfer case adds a dedicated “4WD low” setting. And even though the 4WD Suburban can handle fairly rough sledding, it’s on-road ride is anything but: The vehicle’s standard Premium Smooth Ride Suspension Package helps isolate the interior of the Suburban from jolts and bumps in the pavement, enabling an unexpectedly smooth ride. (The top-of-the-line Suburban LTZ takes things to the next level with an available next-gen Magnetic Ride Control suspension.)
Photo Credit: General Motors
After 81 years of continuous Suburban production, Chevy has just about perfected the formula: Thus, the 2016 Chevrolet Suburban LT supplies the traditionally truck-like capabilities of a body-on-frame vehicle, the massive cabin space of a more-than-full-size SUV, and a wealth of modern technologies—including some, like mobile Wi-Fi, that aren’t yet available from other mainstream auto brands. You do have to have a certain amount of wealth to afford one, but considering the Suburban’s size, strength and content, there’s a case to be made for its value, too. Finally, shoppers who like what they see here but don’t need a vehicle quite its size, should remember the Chevy Tahoe. It’s essentially a Suburban minus 20 inches of length and $2700 of MSRP.