The 2015 Suburban takes safety very seriously, with full implementation of radar-based technologies.
Longtime fans of The Simpsons will immediately be able to relate to the term “Canyonero”. The anonymous large SUV depicted on the show has a real-life counterpart, and it was only appropriate for me to take it for a spin. You see, I own a decade-old Cadillac Escalade, which I came to own by circumstance rather than choice. It serves its purpose wonderfully by effortlessly providing transportation for my large Great Dane as well as any passengers I may need to carry. This 2015 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ the much more modern and tech-filled cousin of my faithful steed, so I grabbed the keys and set off for a weeklong evaluation.
At 224.4”, the Suburban is massive, and it does nothing to hide its size. The body-on-frame setup is traditional to the Suburban and its siblings, the Yukon, Tahoe, and Escalade. In fact, it was so big that I legitimately had a challenge fitting it into my downtown Toronto condominium’s parking spot, a space where my regular-wheelbase Escalade only barely fits. Regardless, it is the Suburban’s size that makes it largely appealing to families of varying sizes, with different lifestyles.
My Crystal Red Tintcoat tester was stunning at first glance with its retractable chrome-trimmed side steps, gigantic 22” chrome-clad wheels and rugged design cues. The new Suburban is unmistakably GM in its appearance, and is quite possibly their best design yet. The contemporary lines are edgy yet elegant, and I think they’re going to age far more gracefully than Suburbans of the past. In fact, I’d like to think that most designs within the GM full-size SUV lineup have been quite forgettable up until this most recent one.
Even the interior of the new Suburban has been completely overhauled. It now features Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment with 8” touchscreen as well as a full colour TFT display in the instrument cluster. The interior itself is upholstered in nice leathers as well as soft-touch materials to bring it to a grade previously restricted to the Escalade and the Denali-trimmed Yukon. Base LS models of the Suburban can actually be had with nine seats – nine! Regardless, our top-trim LTZ tester came with all of the available bells and whistles bringing the total sticker right into the $85,000 range. There’s even a neat wireless charging pad for compatible Android phones located atop the center console!
The vast majority of Suburban sales over the past few decades have been split between large families and fleet sales. With the former, safety features are a huge priority. The 2015 Suburban takes safety very seriously, with full implementation of radar-based technologies to ensure that the truck is essentially a rolling fortress. Our LTZ was equipped with forward collision alert, lane departure warning, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, radar-guided cruise control, front park assist, and of course, a rear-view camera. Thanks to these driver aids, even the most novice of drivers will have no issues piloting the Suburban around suburbia (pun fully intended).
Under the hood of the big kahuna from Chevrolet is an all-new 5.3L Ecotec V8. Not to be confused with the old 5.3L, this new motor has direct injection, variable valve timing, cylinder deactivation and an all-new advanced combustion system. It’s essentially an all-new motor designed to maximize efficiency without compromising power. The result is 355 horsepower at 5,600RPM and 383 lb-ft of torque peaking at 4,100RPM. Power is driven to all four wheels via the sole transmission choice, the GM Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic. Thanks to Active Fuel Management, the engine is able to operate in four-cylinder mode more often than in other applications of similar technologies.
Even with the new engine, the Suburban won’t ever feel like a sports car. The Escalade and Yukon Denali along with their pickup siblings, the Sierra and Silverado, feel a lot quicker when equipped with the larger 6.2L motor. However, the vast majority of buyers will not feel the engine lacking in any way. Throttle response is as sharp as can be for a 5,800lb SUV, and the Suburban hustles down the road with confidence. As with any other vehicle of its size, braking requires a bit of strategic planning, because presumably, a collision with a compact will send said compact flying into outer space.
A key point with the LTZ model (as well as the Tahoe LTZ) is the inclusion of Chevrolet’s third-generation magnetic ride control, which sets up the adaptive dampers to ensure control of body motion. This system is capable of analyzing the road every millisecond and adjusting the dampers in as little as five milliseconds. The result is a surprisingly comfortable SUV that absorbs road imperfections effortlessly while essentially gliding down the road. We actually took a Yukon XL Denali on a road trip to this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and came back with excellent opinions of the ride quality.
These full-sized V8-powered SUVs from the three big American manufacturers have never been known for their fuel economy. However, with the introduction of plug-in hybrids, re-invasion of diesels, and electric vehicles, manufacturers are almost in a race to see who can produce the most efficient vehicles. Doing a considerable amount of highway driving but with a healthy mix of the rush hour grind within downtown Toronto, we were able to squeeze 12.5L/100km out of our Suburban. This is running on regular 87-octane fuel and being frugal with the throttle. Thanks to the 113L fuel tank capacity, the Suburban will be able to do reasonably long road trips without constant refueling stops.
The base Chevrolet Suburban LS starts at $54,900. Our tester was the LTZ 4WD, which starts at $74,000. Options equipped here included a rear seat entertainment system ($2,095), power retractable side steps ($1,920), adaptive cruise control ($1,780), a sunroof ($1,325), MyLink with navigation system ($995), added trailer capacity ($630), and a few other small things. Second row captain’s chairs, leather interior, and a plethora of power outlets and USB ports are all standard equipment. These gizmos bring the as-tested price of our Suburban LTZ to just under $85,000. The Suburban is seriously well equipped and leads one to wonder why, other than for status purposes, it’s even necessary anymore to step up to the Escalade.
My gripes with the ‘Burb are limited to the electronics. The Chevrolet MyLink system is excellent in theory, but the overall execution is far from perfect. There’s quite a bit of lag, especially when dealing with external devices such as Apple iPods, and when attempting to enter destinations into the navigation system. That being said, MyLink has been far better executed than the Cadillac version (CUE), and the sheer level of tech packed into the system, such as 4G LTE WiFi, is second to none. Additionally, GM’s slightly confusing packaging with regards to options is a bit of a put-off. When opting for the top-level LTZ trim, I would expect a sunroof to be included in the price rather than having to pay over $1,000 for it.
The 2015 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ is one of the largest mainstream vehicles currently available in the North American market. It sells unsurprisingly well thanks to its loyal following as well as a great amount of fleet sales. Of course, the fact that many police and government fleets use these (and Tahoes/Yukons) across the continent is a testament to the durability and overall quality of the vehicles. Even in seven-seat guise like this particular tester, the Suburban is an exceptionally roomy vehicle. For those who require the added size of the Suburban thanks to active lifestyles, large families and/or pets, there really is no alternative that matches the value of this large utility vehicle.