2021 Chevrolet Suburban Review
  • Car Review

2021 Chevrolet Suburban Review

By Zac Estrada | October 26, 2020

Quick Facts:

Pros:

  • A new suspension setup allows for more passenger space and improved ride and handling.
  • Two V8 engine choices in addition to new turbodiesel.
  • High level of customization available.
  • Improved dashboard design and interior quality.

Cons:

  • Enormous exterior dimensions make it difficult to configure.
  • High-end models push into luxury SUV price range.
  • Still handles like a truck.

Vehicle Type: A full-size three-row SUV.

Price Range: From $52,995 MSRP, including a $1,295 destination charge, and rises to $76,595, before options.

Powertrain: A 355-horsepower, 5.3-liter V8, and a 10-speed automatic with rear-wheel-drive are standard.

A 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8, and a 277-horsepower, 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbodiesel are available.

Four-wheel-drive is also optional.

More Photos

See more 2021 Chevrolet Suburban photos here.


Overview:

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The Chevrolet Suburban is one of the longest-running nameplates in the automotive industry. For nine decades, the Suburban has been a fixture for Chevrolet, starting off as a workhorse station wagon and evolving into one of the premier large SUVs on the market – with many imitators from other companies now on the market.

The 2021 Suburban is large, luxurious, handsome, and comfortable in a way that truck-based SUVs have never been before.

The Suburban’s main rival is the Ford Expedition Max, but it also competes with the mechanically related GMC Yukon XL. Other smaller full-size SUVs include the Chevrolet Tahoe, Nissan Armada, and Toyota Sequoia. Higher-end versions of the Suburban also compete with the Infiniti QX80, Lexus LX 570, Lincoln Navigator, and Toyota Land Cruiser.

Chevy completely revised the Suburban for 2021. It’s larger, more versatile, more advanced, and more expensive than any Suburban before.

An entirely new chassis is stronger than before, using more lightweight and high-strength steel materials. The Suburban uses a new rear independent suspension that improves ride quality and allows for a fold-flat third-row seat. Space is also improved with a longer wheelbase.

The V8 choices are mostly the same as the previous Suburban, save for some subtle tweaks to improve fuel economy, while a new 277-horsepower, 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbodiesel engine will join the options list in 2021.

Unlike the previous generation, a heavy-duty 2500 model is not offered.

Six trims are available for 2021: LS, LT, Z71, RST, Premier, and the new High Country. All get a 10-speed automatic, while four-wheel-drive is an option.

Overall Score: 7/10


Safety Features: 7/10

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Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet tested the 2021 Suburban in crash tests or for crash prevention measures.

Standard safety equipment includes active hill hold assist, automatic emergency braking, a following distance indicator, forward collision alert, front pedestrian braking, an HD rearview camera, LED daytime running lights, OnStar telematics, and rear parking sensors.

Available features include enhanced automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera system, front parking assist, a highway safety kit, lane change alerts, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane-keeping assist with lane-departure warnings, rear pedestrian alerts, safety alert seats, and a trailer side blind spot monitoring system.

While the Suburban offers numerous driver assistance systems, the Expedition and Sequoia, among others, include more advanced technology as standard equipment.

The Suburban is available with a Teen Driver Mode, which allows parents to set limits for how their teens use the vehicle. Top speed, radio volume, and more can be controlled by the parent, and a review of the teen’s driving habits can be sent to the parent afterward.


Value: 6/10

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The base Suburban LS starts from around $53,000, undercutting the least expensive Ford Expedition models. LS models include 18-inch alloy wheels, the 5.3-liter V8 engine, three-zone automatic climate control, and a 10.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system. LT models add about $5,000 to the price tag but add some desirable features such as leather upholstery, heated front seats, a 9-speaker Bose audio system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror while still undercutting the Expedition by several thousand dollars.

The larger 6.2-liter V8 engine is only available on the top-trim High Country models, which start in territory occupied by the more powerful and lavishly styled Lincoln Navigator, as well as much higher than models such as the top-trim Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia.

Fully optioned, a High Country 4x4 with the V8 goes for more than $87,000, which also encroaches on the related, but more upscale, Cadillac Escalade. Suburban models make more sense in LT or off-road-oriented Z71 trims.


Tech Features: 7/10

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Standard technology features on 2021 Suburban models include a 10.2-inch touchscreen, HD radio, Bluetooth, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice controls, app capabilities, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Onstar, 120-volt power outlets, a 4.2-inch driver information screen, and 12-volt outlets. Available features include built-in navigation, wireless device charging, 9-speaker Bose audio system, surround-view camera, and a 15-inch configurable head-up display.

Navigation is available, but most buyers will be satisfied with the maps provided by their preferred mobile phone interface. Chevrolet’s infotainment systems are colorful, easy to use, and intuitive, which makes them ideal for use on the road. On the Suburban’s large 10.2-inch screen, the colors pop and the viewing angles are excellent for nearly anyone in the cabin, and the screen itself is larger than the standard offering on the Ford Expedition and many other of the Suburban’s rivals.


Practicality: 8/10

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The Suburban’s redesign brought a lower floor and new suspension, which increases the legroom for the second and third rows. The second-row seats now slide and are offered with a power-folding option, which further increases flexibility and can open up more legroom for passengers that need it. The third-row seat is where the biggest increases in space were made, with seats that have much more support for adults and more legroom. They also now fold into the floor, rather than on top of it to increase space.

The Suburban now has up to 144.7 cubic-feet of cargo space with the second and third-row seats folded down. That represents an increase of 23 cubic feet from the 2020 models and makes the Suburban the most spacious SUV out there, along with the GMC Yukon XL and Cadillac Escalade ESV. The Ford Expedition Max and Lincoln Navigator L have about 20 cubic feet less space with all of their seats folded, but with a vehicle this large, it’s hard to notice. And the Ford and Lincoln versions all come with standard power-folding third-row seats, while that feature is an option on some Suburban trim levels.

With the 6.2-liter V8 engine, the Suburban can tow up to 8,200 pounds. That number grows to 8,300 with the standard 5.3-liter V8. Chevy hasn’t released towing numbers for the diesel powertrain yet, but it’s superior torque rating is likely to put it at the top of the towing capacity ratings. A Max Trailering package for the Suburban includes an upgraded cooling system, integrated trailer brake controllers, and a hitch guidance system.


Styling & Design: 7/10

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The new Suburban’s front end is aggressively styled with multiple lines, layers, and materials. Some may find it to be too busy and cluttered, but it’s a distinctive look that sets the Suburban apart from the tamer styling of its competition, and it’s mostly differentiated from the related Silverado pickup truck. The Suburban is big and wears its size like a badge of honor. It’s tall, somewhat hard to climb into, and will make it difficult for parents to lift children into car seats. That said, the optional power-folding steps make it much easier to enter and exit, and can help with getting kids in and out.

Though Chevy chose to stick with a somewhat familiar design for the Suburban’s interior, it’s got updated styling that keeps it current with the competition. However, the push-button gear shifter that will require a learning curve for most drivers. In the High Country trim, the Suburban’s interior finishes mostly look like they belong in a vehicle pushing $80,000. The leathers are soft and luxurious, hard-touch materials are kept to a minimum, but lower trim levels reveal the vehicle’s more utilitarian roots. Still, they’re generally nicer than what’s found in a similarly priced Expedition or Sequoia.

The Suburban’s interior is more than huge, it’s cavernous. That space is used cleverly, however, and there’s plenty of small-item storage spaces to go along with the expanses of open storage. A power-sliding center console for the front seats will also be available during the 2021 Suburban’s run, adding another showpiece for the newly refined interior.


Driving Experience: 7/10

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The Suburban’s full-size configuration is one design element that can’t be overstated here. The new SUV rides on the same platform that forms the basis of the Silverado 1500 pickup truck, but it’s able to hide its truck roots in most situations. That utilitarian backbone shines through over rough roads, where the Suburban tends to act like a rough-and-tumble pickup truck at times. The new independent rear suspension, available adaptive dampers, and air suspension do their jobs admirably and help keep the big Suburban in check with decent ride quality. Steering is direct and accurate, and the brake pedal provides a surprising level of feedback for a vehicle that is so large.

Premier and High Country models can be equipped with a magnetic ride control system that constantly adjusts the suspension dampening to make the ride more supple and handling slightly more controlled. The Z71 will get an adaptive air suspension option to improve ground clearance and control the ride better, but it and the RST model get large wheels that can make the ride firmer than on other models.

The standard 5.3-liter V8 is more than adequate and pairs well with the 10-speed automatic gearbox. It provides strong acceleration and healthy towing numbers, if not the effortless punch of the Expedition’s twin-turbo V6 or the Sequoia’s massive 5.7-liter V8. The upgraded 6.2-liter powerplant makes all the right sounds and brings powerful acceleration with it.


Fuel Efficiency: 6/10

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When equipped with the 5.3-liter engine and rear-wheel-drive, the Suburban is rated by the EPA at 16 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined. With four-wheel-drive, those numbers shift to 15 mpg city, 19 highway, and 17 combined. On models with the 6.2-liter engine and rear-wheel-drive, the Suburban is rated at 15 city, 20 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined, and 14 city, 19 highway, and 16 combined with four-wheel-drive.

While better than smaller vehicles such as the Toyota Land Cruiser and Toyota Sequoia, the Suburban doesn’t get as high fuel economy ratings as the Ford Expedition or Lincoln Navigator. Chevrolet’s diesel powertrain has not yet received EPA fuel economy estimates.


What’s it Going to Cost Me?

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The 2021 Chevrolet Suburban ranges in price from $52,995 MSRP to $76,595, including the $1,295 destination charge. It is available in six trim levels. Four-wheel-drive is optional on all models except for the Z71, where it’s standard.

The base Suburban LS starts from $52,995 MSRP. Standard features include a 355-horsepower, 5.3-liter V8, a 10-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel-drive, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps with automatic high beam control, rear parking sensors, HD backup camera, tri-zone automatic climate control, running boards, cloth upholstery, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, and a 10.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite radio, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, OnStar telematics, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.

The Driver Alert Package adds front and rear parking sensors, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert. The Advanced Trailering Package adds a hitch guidance system for the backup camera, integrated trailer brake controller, while the Max Trailering Package also includes a heavy-duty radiator and two-speed transfer case on 4x4 models. Other standalone options are 20-inch wheels, 40/20/40 split front bench seat to increase capacity to nine passengers, and a retractable cargo cover.

The Suburban LT has a starting price of $57,795 MSRP. It adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, wireless smartphone charging pad, nine-speaker Bose audio system, hands-free power liftgate, leather upholstery, heated front seats, 8-way power driver’s seat, memory settings for the driver’s seat, gloss-black grille with chrome inserts, universal garage door opener, and keyless entry and push-button start.

The Driver Alert and trailering packages are also optional on the LT. The Luxury Package adds the driver assistance systems, as well as a surround-view camera, rear pedestrian alert, memory settings for the exterior mirrors and power-adjustable steering wheel, power-folding side mirrors, heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, power-release second-row seats, and power-folding third-row seats. The Signature Package includes the Luxury Package features and adds the Max Trailering Package, 20-inch wheels, and a panoramic moonroof.

A Rear Media and Navigation Package adds a rear entertainment system and a built-in navigation system. The panoramic moonroof is available as a standalone option, as are 22-inch wheels, and second-row captain’s chairs.

The Suburban RST starts from $61,095 MSRP. It adds to the LT 22-inch wheels, monochromatic black grille, black roof rails and window trim, and a black interior with red stitching and RST badges. The Driver Alert Package, trailering packages, Luxury Package, and Rear Media and Navigation Package from the LT are optional. A panoramic moonroof is also optional.

The Suburban Z71 starts from $63,195 MSRP and comes standard with four-wheel-drive, a two-speed transfer case, a front skid plate, hill-descent control, revised front fascia with red tow hooks, and 20-inch wheels with off-road tires.

In addition to the Driver Alert, Luxury, Rear Media and Navigation, and trailering packages, the Z71 is available with the Off-Road Capability Package. It includes magnetic ride control, air suspension, and an 8-inch driver information display in the instrument panel. The Z71 Signature Package adds features from the Luxury Package and Max Trailering Package, as well as a panoramic moonroof.

The moonroof is also available as a standalone option, as are second-row captain’s chairs.

The Suburban Premier has a starting price of $66,595 MSRP, and adds to the LT model a dual-outlet exhaust system, chrome exterior accents, magnetic ride control, 12-way power front seats, ventilated front seats, an 8-inch color driver information screen, a Bose CenterPoint 10-speaker sound system, navigation, front/rear park assist, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, lane change alerts with blind-spot monitors, lane-keep assist with lane departure warnings, memory settings for the driver’s seat, steering wheel, and exterior mirrors, rear cross-traffic alerts, and safety alert seat which vibrates when the lane keep assist system or rear cross-traffic alert system is activated.

In addition to the trailering packages, the Texas Edition package includes special 22-inch wheels, wheel locks, and Texas Edition badges. The Premium Package adds the Max Trailering Package, panoramic moonroof, enhanced automatic emergency braking with low-speed assist, 15-inch configurable head-up display, a surround-view camera with rear camera washer, rear pedestrian alert, trailer blind-spot warning, and adaptive cruise control.

Standalone options include 22-inch wheels, panoramic moonroof, and a power sliding center console.

The 2021 Suburban High Country has a starting price of $73,595 and comes with a 420-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8, 22-inch wheels, wheel locks, configurable head-up display, an HD surround-view camera system, a rear camera mirror, rear pedestrian alerts, and a rear camera washer system.

The Technology Package adds the Max Trailering Package, rear-seat entertainment system, and adaptive cruise control. The Premium Package includes the Max Trailering Package, as well as a panoramic moonroof, adaptive cruise control, and power-retractable running boards, while the Deluxe Package adds those features and air suspension.

A panoramic moonroof, power-retractable running boards, rear-seat entertainment system, and adaptive cruise control are standalone options.


More Photos

See more 2021 Chevrolet Suburban photos here.