What's New for 2001
The self-proclaimed "king of the full-size sport-utility segment" was completely redesigned last year, yet 2001 still sees improvements to the powertrain. Chevy has upped the horsepower rating of the Vortec 6000 to 320, and 360 foot-pounds of torque is now made at 4,000 revs. A new 8.1-liter engine cranks out 340-horsepower at 4,200 rpm and 455 foot-pounds of torque at 3,200 rpm. You can maintain a relationship with your mechanic on a less intimate level, thanks to an increase in the recommended oil change interval from 7,500 miles to 10,000 miles.
In the war of the SUVs, Ford took the lead for largest competitor. But in war, bigger is not always better -- just ask Goliath. While the 2001 Chevrolet Suburban may have David aspirations in this vehicular tete-a-tete, being small isn't part of its character. More importantly, the Suburban was completely redesigned last year, and the engineers took that opportunity to capitalize on their long history of truck building by changing as much as they could.
All Excursions aside, this vehicle is big. Coming in at a length of 18.3 feet, the heavy-duty 2500 weighs in at an impressive 5760 pounds -- almost 3 tons of truck. Towering above 6 feet for the four-wheel-drive models, is no less imposing than Ford's monster, which is 7 inches taller. However, 7 inches can make a difference -- a Suburban will fit in a standard garage or a car wash rack.
The 2001 Suburban comes in two models, the 1500 and the 2500, both offering two- and four-wheel-drive configurations. The 1500s come with a 285-horsepower, 5.3-liter V8 engine, while the 2500 is equipped with either a 320-horsepower, 6.0-liter V8 or a new 8.1-liter eight-cylinder that brews up 340 horses. All come from the Vortec family of small-block engines and have more horsepower than previous Suburban engines. Fronting a four-speed automatic transmission, the Suburban proves to be a great workhorse.
Ride and handling have been vastly improved from the previous Suburbans, with increased body strength and stiffness. The 1500s are equipped with a five-link coil-spring rear suspension, allowing the truck to track better on gravel or washboard roads and giving you more wheel control. The suspension on the 2500s comes with the same rear leaf springs as their Silverado stablemates, giving them heavy-duty towing capacities to go with the strong V8s.
The interior is comfortable and convenient. Efficient placement of air ducts and a spare tire located underneath the cargo floor rather than inside the cabin allow for copious amounts of useable space and better movement throughout than comparable vehicles. Well-designed seatback angles, a driver's seat with more positioning options than some near-luxury cars provide and second-row captain's chairs go a long way in providing you and your passengers with a pleasant environment.
This Suburban has a lot to offer. It's not the most stylish, nor the biggest SUV on the market, but a lot of time and effort on the part of designers have paid off.