Full 2014 Chevrolet Suburban Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the Chevy Suburban sees the heavy-duty 2500 series and its bigger V8 engine dropped from the lineup, leaving just the 1500 series. Also, the LS trim gets a number of previously optional features as standard equipment. The latter include a remote ignition, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and power-adjustable pedals.
When you need an ultimate family hauler, something that can accommodate the whole brood while also pulling your biggest toys, it's hard to beat the 2014 Chevrolet Suburban. With its burly truck-based architecture and brawny powertrain, the Suburban has long been the go-to rig for large, active families, or anyone needing a vehicle with such massive capabilities.
Even if said family is the size of a baseball team, the Suburban has the bases all covered. It can carry up to nine and has a cargo area behind all those seats big enough to carry all their stuff. Whether you're going across town or across the country, no other type of vehicle can boast such a utilitarian personality.
The reality, however, is that most people don't need such extreme capabilities, and in that case, it's hard to make an argument for owning such a massive vehicle. If moving a lot of people and things is important, a minivan such as the Honda Odyssey or a large crossover SUV like the 2014 Chevrolet Traverse (or its similar Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia platform mates) makes a lot more sense. These vehicles can haul almost as many people (eight maximum versus nine) in a more comfortable cabin, while returning much better fuel economy. Moreover, they're easier to drive and maneuver, especially in tight parking situations.
Of course, those lighter-duty vehicles can't tow heavy boats or campers. So if you have something on the order of a SeaRay or Airstream, then you really will need the added muscle of a Chevy Suburban (or its GMC Yukon XL twin). You could also consider one of its worthy rivals, namely the Ford Expedition EL and Toyota Sequoia. Both of them offer the advantage of a more practical fold-flat third-row seat but have less maximum cargo capacity and top out at eight passengers rather than nine. Waiting for the redesigned and improved Suburban that comes out for 2015 is also an option.
Ultimately, you have to ask yourself whether a traditional full-size SUV's prodigious passenger, cargo and towing capacities will be useful enough to your family to cancel out the inherent negatives: poor fuel economy and ponderous handling. If the answer is yes, the 2014 Chevy Suburban is definitely worthy of your consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Chevrolet Suburban is a full-size SUV that's offered in three trim levels; base LS, midlevel LT and luxury LTZ. The Suburban comes standard with an eight-passenger interior, but an available 40/20/40 front bench seat (LS only) bumps that capacity up to nine.
The LS comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, rear privacy glass, remote starting, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, heated mirrors, roof rails, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera (displays in rearview mirror), tri-zone manual climate control, six-way power front bucket seats, a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, full power accessories, OnStar emergency communications, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod/USB interface, rear headphone jacks and rear controls.
The LT adds foglights, roof rack crossbars, a locking rear differential, heated mirrors, tri-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, leather upholstery and a nine-speaker Bose audio system with a six-CD changer.
The top-of-the-line LTZ gets 20-inch polished alloy wheels, an adaptive suspension with automatic load leveling, automatic wipers, a power liftgate, power-folding and driver-side auto-dimming mirrors, a blind-spot warning system, 12-way power front seats, heated and ventilated front seats, driver memory functions, a heated steering wheel, heated and power-folding second-row captain's chairs (which drop seating capacity to seven), a 7-inch touchscreen display, a navigation system (with traffic reports, a touchscreen and voice controls) and a premium 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with digital music storage.
Many of the LTZ's standard features are available on the LS or LT as options. Other notable options include 22-inch wheels, a sunroof, power-extending running boards, a heavy-duty towing package (with an integrated trailer brake controller, trailer sway control and hill start assist), an off-road package (LT only) and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system (with one or two overhead screens).
Powertrains and Performance
All 2014 Chevy Suburbans are powered by a 5.3-liter V8 engine that makes 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. It comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while there are two different four-wheel-drive systems available. One of the 4WD systems has a traditional two-range transfer case (LTZ), and the other is a lighter-duty single-speed unit without low-speed gearing. If you just need a little extra traction on slick winter roads, the single-speed 4WD system will likely serve you just fine.
In Edmunds testing, a 4WD Suburban with the 5.3-liter V8 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9 seconds, which is on par with the Expedition EL but slower than the Sequoia. Properly equipped, the Suburban can tow up to 8,100 pounds.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the 2014 Chevrolet Suburban stands at 17 mpg combined (15 city/21 highway) whether equipped with two- or four-wheel drive.
The 2014 Chevrolet Suburban's standard safety features include four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard is GM's OnStar emergency communications system, which includes automatic crash notification, an emergency assistance button, remote door unlock and stolen vehicle assistance. A rearview camera and rear parking sensors are standard across the board, while a blind-spot warning system comes standard on the LTZ.
In government crash tests, the Suburban received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with five stars for both overall frontal and side protection. The lower overall total score is due to the Suburban's rollover rating. In Edmunds brake testing, a Suburban stopped from 60 mph in 145 feet, a longer distance for this segment.
Interior Design and Special Features
While the Chevy Suburban's interior is starting to show its age, it's still attractive enough and has a quality feel to it. The gauges and controls lack many of the latest gee-whiz features, but they're easy to read and intuitive to operate. The overly large, column-mounted gearshift seems a little dated, as does the absence of a telescoping steering wheel (although the standard power-adjustable pedals partially compensate). Smartphone users will also notice there's no ability to stream music, as the Suburban's Bluetooth connection allows only phone calls.
When it comes to hauling people, though, the Suburban remains hard to beat, at least among full-size SUVs. With the available 40/20/40-split front bench seat, there's room for up to nine passengers, a number that's only bettered by some full-size vans. Unfortunately, accessing the third row requires a bit of a climb (the Chevy Traverse and Honda Odyssey are much better in this regard), and its 50/50-split design requires the center passenger to straddle the division between the two halves.
Another downside to the Suburban's third-row seat is that it has to be removed entirely in order to make full use of the cavernous cargo hold. You don't have to worry about this herculean task in the Expedition EL or Toyota Sequoia, which feature fold-flat third rows. Yet when all the Suburban's seats are removed, the resulting 137 cubic feet of maximum cargo space is greater than in both of those rivals.
From behind the wheel, the 2014 Chevrolet Suburban feels surprisingly civilized for a truck that tips the scales at nearly 3 tons. The 5.3-liter V8 engine delivers good acceleration with a light load, though performance with a full complement of passengers and cargo (or while towing a large trailer) is just adequate.
The Suburban's hefty curb weight makes its handling ponderous, and its plus-size dimensions can make it a handful when maneuvering in tight quarters like downtown parking garages. Keep in mind that this is true of all traditional full-size SUVs, so if you're making the move from a minivan or crossover, you'll find that driving a Suburban (or Expedition or Sequoia) simply takes a bit more concentration. On the upside, the Chevy's suspension delivers a relatively smooth ride -- especially with the LTZ's adaptive suspension -- that complements the generally quiet interior.