What's New for 1998
New colors, a standard theft-deterrent system, optional heated seats, second-generation airbags and an automatic 4WD system improve the 1998 Suburban.
In some sections of the country, wise middle-class folks have been tooling around for several years in mile-long Suburbans, whether or not they have great need for all that expanse behind the driver's seat. These days, throughout the suburban reaches of Houston and Dallas, among other spots, the Chevrolet and GMC Suburban have become de facto status-flaunting vehicles, pushing prices beyond the reach of the common man.
Yes, those who formerly wheeled about town in a Cadillac or Lincoln or Mercedes, and wouldn't feel quite right in a pickup truck, appear to have twirled their affections toward the biggest passenger vehicles in the General Motors repertoire. Chevrolet, in fact, considers the Suburban "as suited to the country club as to a roughneck oil field."
Mechanically, you get the same layout in the smaller Chevrolet Tahoe, but that vehicle is only available with Chevy's Vortec 5700 V8 engine. Select a Suburban and you can accept that motor, with 255 horsepower. Or, with the 3/4-ton C/K 2500 series you can go all the way, opting for the mammoth Vortec 7400 V8, whipping out 290 strutting horses and a mean 410 pound-feet of ground-tromping torque. Oh, there's also an optional turbo-diesel. Both the half- and 3/4-ton versions come with either two- or four-wheel drive, and all have four-wheel antilock braking.
This season brings a new optional four-wheel drive system. Called Autotrac, it automatically shifts from 2WD to 4WD when wheel slippage is detected, just like Ford's Control-Trac system in the similarly gargantuan Expedition. Also new is an Enhancement Package, which adds heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, carpeted floor mats, a reversible rear cargo mat, an electrochromic rearview mirror with integrated compass and exterior temperature readout, a Homelink programmable three-channel transmitter, and 46mm Bilstein shocks. New colors are available for 1998, and a theft deterrent system is standard this year.
Suburbans can seat up to nine occupants and tow as much as five tons, when properly equipped. For families that need plenty of room for youngsters, or for retirees who need loads of power to haul a travel trailer, a Suburban can make good sense. Chevrolet is combating competition from Ford's new Expedition, but for heavy-duty use and maximum space, Chevrolet and GMC are still the only serious games in town for a mammoth "truck wagon."