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Depowered second-generation airbags protect front-seat occupants for 1998. Carpeted floor mats become standard. Standard equipment also includes PassLock theft-deterrent system, electrochromic rearview mirror and automatic four-wheel drive on K-series models.
Gaze down the side of a Suburban and all you see is steel and more steel, stretching rearward. Hike yourself aboard and you can't help but feel you're in a truck, ready for the long haul--which is exactly what pleases many owners of these biggies. Compact-SUV fans have a hard time grasping the appeal, but full-size "truck wagons" have been luring more and more upscale motorists.
GMC claims this mammoth combines the comfort of a luxury sedan with the "tenacity and utility of a packhorse." Except for the nearly identical Chevrolet model, also named Suburban and priced just slightly lower, there was nothing else quite like it on the market, until Ford crashed the party last year with the new Expedition.
For 1998, GMC has added some standard equipment to make its version of the Suburban more upscale. A power driver's seat, PassLock theft deterrent system, and electrochromic rearview mirror are all part of the base price this year. A new Luxury Convenience Package adds a three-channel HomeLink transmitter, 46mm Bilstein shocks, heated front seats, heated electrochromic rearview mirrors, and a power front passenger seat to the top-level SLT. Suburbans with 4WD get a new Autotrac transfer case. Autotrac is a fully automatic 4WD system that will transfer power to the front axle when rear wheel slippage is detected. If rear wheel slippage is excessive, the system switches to "4-Hi" mode with no driver input. Basically, you set it and forget it. Three new colors add some zip to the exterior.
Inside, the modern instrument panel holds a selection of white-on-black analog gauges with zone markings and red-orange needles. Climate controls are easy to grasp and use, within easy reach of each occupant. Dual cupholders ease out of a compartment at the center of the dashboard, but are poorly located so that beverages sit in front of the air vents. Three assist handles help entry/exit. Passenger car tires make less rough-and-tumble Suburbans ride smoothly and quietly. For 1998, carpeted floor mats and a cargo area mat are standard.
Despite its pickup truck heritage, the Suburban produces a stable and reasonably comfortable, if not exactly cushiony, ride--at least until you stray away from smooth pavement. We do wish the driver's seat backrest didn't feel reclined when in its most upright position. Gasoline engines tend to guzzle as expected, and if you're planning to carry heavy loads much of the time (or haul a trailer) give the big-block Vortec 7400 V8 a whirl before deciding to accept the base engine.
The Suburban is one our favorites. It's a no-holds barred, no apologies kind of truck that can carry or tow just about anything you'd want to move without professional assistance. With a strong lineup of engines and more room inside than the Ford Expedition or 1998 Lincoln Navigator, we'd take the Suburban so long as we could live with it occupying the driveway rather than the garage.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.