Used 1997 Chevrolet Suburban Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1997

Dual airbags debut, and a cargo area power lock switch makes locking up the vehicle after unloading cargo more convenient. Variable power steering lightens low-speed steering effort, and automatic transmissions are improved. Two new exterior colors are added to the paint roster.

Vehicle overview

In some sections of the country, upmarket 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. Through the suburban reaches of Houston and Dallas, among other spots, the Chevrolet and GMC Suburban have become de facto status-flaunting vehicles.

Yes, those who formerly wheeled around 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 foot-pounds of ground-tromping torque. Oh, there's also an optional turbodiesel. 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's interior is upgraded with the addition of a driver's airbag. Rear passengers are made more comfortable with the addition of height-adjustable outboard safety belts. Drivers won't need to wrestle the Suburban at low speeds with the introduction of Electronic Variable Orifice power steering. Locking the Suburban after unloading cargo is easier this year, because Chevy added a power lock switch to the cargo area. Shifts are smoother from revised transmissions, which also improve efficiency. Two new exterior colors debut: Medium Opal Blue Metallic and Medium Beige Mystique Metallic.

Suburbans seat up to nine occupants and tow as much as five tons, when properly equipped. For families who 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 can expect competition from Ford's new Expedition for 1997, but for heavy-duty use and maximum space, Chevrolet and GMC are still the only serious games in town for a mammoth "truck wagon."

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.