The Chevrolet Suburban is Chevy's biggest SUV. It's built on the same platform that underpins the Chevy Silverado 1500, but it has three rows of seating and enough space for the whole family — or two. Chevy redesigned the Silverado for 2020 and has now applied a similar architecture to usher in the 12th generation of this three-row large SUV. For 2021, one of the country's longest-standing SUVs has a whole new look and feel.
2021 Chevy Suburban
2021 Chevrolet Suburban Review
- Giant interior opens up lots of space cargo
- Third-row seating is roomy enough for adults
- Strong towing capacity
- Available diesel engine should be advantageous for towing and fuel range
- Large size restricts maneuverability
- Some safety features restricted to pricey trim levels
- Some controls are confusing to use or hard to reach
- The 2021 Chevrolet Suburban has been fully redesigned
- Introduces the 12th Suburban generation
The Suburban is Chevrolet's biggest SUV. It's also one of the few truck-based, body-on-frame SUVs still around. Built on the same platform that underpins the Chevy Silverado 1500, the Suburban has plenty of power for towing and enormous space for people and cargo. Now, for 2021, Chevy has given this well-known SUV a whole new look and feel.
While undoubtedly capable, the previous-generation Suburban came up short in refinement, versatility and features. Its crosstown rival, the Ford Expedition, has outranked the Suburban in recent years with its decidedly more modern but no less rugged design. This new Suburban has added legroom for the rear seats, more cargo room and, for the first time, an independent rear suspension. This, plus other new suspension enhancements, make this the most smooth-riding and confident-handling Suburban yet. You'll also find a new diesel-powered engine that promises better fuel economy than the gas V8 and new safety and technology features.
Along with the Ford Expedition and its corporate twin, the GMC Yukon XL, the Suburban is worth checking out if you're shopping for a big three-row SUV with stout towing and hauling capabilities. Check out our Expert Rating below to read how it fared in our testing.
The modernized Chevrolet Suburban has a smooth ride and simply massive cargo space, plus heaps of available technology. You can also choose from a trio of powerful engines. There is no getting around its size, however, and the price tag on higher trims can quickly become stratospheric.
How does the Suburban drive?
Our test Suburban came equipped with the optional 6.2-liter V8 engine. It has plenty of power and delivers it through a smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission. At our test track, the Suburban hustled from 0 to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. This is on par with the Expedition.
We're impressed by the Suburban's braking power and composure. In our testing it came to a stop from 60 mph in just 122 feet, which is exceptional for a large three-row SUV. This is still a hefty vehicle, however, especially when the road gets curvy. The Suburban is well balanced and can handle sharp turns, but the steering lacks feedback. It prefers to stay straight, which is helpful if you plan to tow.
How comfortable is the Suburban?
The Suburban's new independent rear suspension more easily smooths out bumps in the road compared to older generations that had the solid rear-axle design. Our test vehicle also came with the optional Magnetic Ride Control and adaptive air suspension. They work well to create a buffer between the road and the cabin. At times the Suburban can feel a little busy and boat-like, but we're confident the Suburban is better-riding with these suspension upgrades than without.
Elsewhere, the Suburban can't overcome its truck-like nature. The leather front seats are soft and wide with available power lumbar, but overall comfort is lacking. Some of our drivers found them too flat and unsupportive. The climate control system seems overworked at most temps, and some buttons are small and difficult to press.
How’s the interior?
The Suburban offers plentiful headroom and legroom in both the front and second rows, plus space to comfortably suit adults in the third row — if they don't mind the more rigid seats. All that space makes some controls difficult to reach, however, and the button layout in general can be quite confusing. It's a borderline mess.
Getting in and out is no problem. Step up through the huge door openings and there's easy access to all three rows. The driving position is high, a necessity in order to see over the massive hood. The seat and steering wheel are highly adjustable, but there's no getting around the thick roof pillars that create significant blind spots.
How’s the tech?
The Suburban's touchscreen is impressively clear and responsive, but because the Suburban is so large and the screen is so wide, it's often difficult to reach. We do like that it has standard wireless Apple CarPlay, which worked quickly and effectively during our test, and wireless Android Auto. Most trims have a wireless charging pad, and the available 10-speaker Bose stereo system sounds great.
We're also impressed with the driver safety aids such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist, which are very helpful on such a large vehicle. The downside is the controls can be tricky to operate without some practice.
How’s the storage?
Space is the Suburban's calling card. It has a truly cavernous rear cargo hold with 41.5 cubic feet of capacity behind the third row. Fold it down and you've got 93.8 cubic feet, which is more than what the Ford Expedition Max offers. This is one of the main reasons you get a Suburban.
Elsewhere the space is used adequately, if not perfectly. Small-item storage is only middle-of-the-road and doesn't offer much cleverness. Our test vehicle had a confusing power center console operated by an unmarked button. Towing is a strong suit. A maximum rating of 8,300 pounds is good for the class, and plentiful towing tech features are available.
How’s the fuel economy?
This was a bit of a shocker: During our testing, the Suburban matched its EPA rating of 16 mpg combined (14 city/19 highway) and even exceeded it on our 115-mile evaluation route of mixed city and highway driving with a tally of 18.7 mpg. That figure is better than a lighter Tahoe we tested with the smaller 5.3-liter V8, which posted 17.8 mpg. And it's much better than the Ford Expedition Max, which struggled to meet its 16 mpg city rating and utterly failed to match its 18 mpg combined rating.
We suspect the Suburban did so well because the larger 6.2-liter V8 comes with an advanced cylinder deactivation technology that conserves fuel at highway speed. It should also be noted that the engine requires premium fuel. Still, an impressive showing.
Is the Suburban a good value?
Base versions start around $53,000 including destination fees, which is appealing for the power and space. However, some features such as adaptive cruise control are only available in the most expensive trims — in optional packages. So optioned-up models such as the High Country can end costing more than $80,000. That price is almost egregious considering the so-so materials inside.
The Suburban has three-year/36,000-mile basic and five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranties. It also has generous six-year/100,000-mile rust protection and five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance, plus free maintenance for one year.
For better or worse, the Suburban is defined by its imposing size. Its massive height, width and weight make the big SUV cumbersome on the road. Even with impressive driving dynamics, you are always keenly aware of how much space you're taking up.
It does have personality, though. In any trim level you choose, the Suburban has powerful engines, loads of cargo space, and strong towing capacity. If having family adventures is high on your priority list, the Suburban can certainly accommodate trips to the mountains, or quality time on the lake, for years to come. Just be prepared to accept the downsides that come along with it.
Which Suburban does Edmunds recommend?
Chevrolet Suburban models
The 2021 Suburban is offered in six trim levels: the LS, LT, RST, Z71, Premier and High Country. The Suburban comes standard with a 5.3-liter V8 (355 horsepower, 383 lb-ft) mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is available on all trim levels (standard on the Z71), with either a single- or two-speed transfer case. Two other engines are also available:
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2021 Chevy Suburban Review — The Ultimate Family SUV?
Features & Specs
- Base MSRP
- MPG & Fuel
- 16 City / 20 Hwy / 18 Combined
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 28.0 gal. capacity
- 9 seats
- Type: rear wheel drive
- Transmission: 10-speed shiftable automatic
- V8 cylinder
- Horsepower: 355 hp @ 5600 rpm
- Torque: 383 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm
- Basic Warranty
- 3 yr./ 36000 mi.
- Length: 225.7 in. / Height: 75.7 in.
- Overall Width with Mirrors: 81.1 in.
- Overall Width without Mirrors: N/A
- Curb Weight: 5616 lbs.
- Cargo Capacity, All Seats In Place: 41.5 cu.ft.
Our experts’ favorite Suburban safety features:
- Forward Collision Alert
- Warns you to take action to avoid colliding with a vehicle or other object in front of the SUV.
- Lane Keep Assist
- Alerts you when the SUV drifts out of its lane and delivers steering input to keep the vehicle in its lane.
- Safety Alert Seat
- Vibrates the driver's seat cushion when the crash avoidance tech detects a situation that may need your attention.
Chevrolet Suburban vs. the competition
2021 Chevrolet Suburban
2021 Ford Expedition
Chevrolet Suburban vs. Ford Expedition
The extended-wheelbase version of the Expedition, the Max, is the main SUV you'll want to consider as an alternative to the Suburban. Like the Suburban, it has massive room for passengers and cargo. The tow ratings are impressive as well. But there are a few things the Expedition doesn't offer, such as a diesel engine option.
Chevrolet Suburban vs. GMC Yukon XL
The corporate twin of the Suburban, the Yukon XL wears different styling as well as some lightly upgraded interior materials to help differentiate itself from the Chevy. But with the Cadillac Escalade holding the top spot as GM's true luxury SUV, the Yukon XL is a bit lost in the middle. It costs more than the Suburban without offering a substantially stepped-up experience.
Chevrolet Suburban vs. Cadillac Escalade
The Cadillac Escalade could be just what you need if the Suburban's capability appeals to you but you're looking for luxury and real on-road presence. Mechanically similar to Suburban, the Escalade can carry the people and tow the same boats as the Chevy yet surrounds its passengers in decidedly more luxurious accommodations. But that luxury doesn't come cheap.
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Is the Chevrolet Suburban a good car?
What's new in the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban?
According to Edmunds’ car experts, here’s what’s new for the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban:
- The 2021 Chevrolet Suburban has been fully redesigned
- Introduces the 12th Suburban generation
Is the Chevrolet Suburban reliable?
Is the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban a good car?
How much should I pay for a 2021 Chevrolet Suburban?
The least-expensive 2021 Chevrolet Suburban is the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban Fleet 4dr SUV (5.3L 8cyl 10A). Including destination charge, it arrives with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $50,700.
Other versions include:
- Z71 4dr SUV 4WD (5.3L 8cyl 10A) which starts at $61,900
- LT 4dr SUV 4WD (5.3L 8cyl 10A) which starts at $59,500
- High Country 4dr SUV 4WD (6.2L 8cyl 10A) which starts at $75,300
- LT 4dr SUV (5.3L 8cyl 10A) which starts at $56,500
- Premier 4dr SUV 4WD (5.3L 8cyl 10A) which starts at $68,300
- Premier 4dr SUV (5.3L 8cyl 10A) which starts at $65,300
- High Country 4dr SUV (6.2L 8cyl 10A) which starts at $72,300
- RST 4dr SUV 4WD (5.3L 8cyl 10A) which starts at $62,800
- RST 4dr SUV (5.3L 8cyl 10A) which starts at $59,800
- LS 4dr SUV (5.3L 8cyl 10A) which starts at $51,700
- LS 4dr SUV 4WD (5.3L 8cyl 10A) which starts at $54,700
- Fleet 4dr SUV 4WD (5.3L 8cyl 10A) which starts at $53,700
- Fleet 4dr SUV (5.3L 8cyl 10A) which starts at $50,700