Luxury Package ($2,940 -- includes passive entry, remote keyless start, heated second-row split power-fold bench seats, third-row power-fold bench seats, steering column power tilt-and-telescoping heated steering wheel, front and rear park assist, side blind zone with lane departure alert, rear cross-traffic alert, front foglamps, wireless charging, hands-free liftgate); Z71 Off-Road package ($1,695 -- includes Z71 suspension, 3.42 axle, two-speed transfer case, black tow hooks, skid plate, 18-inch painted aluminum wheels, all-terrain tires, oval assist steps)
Naturally aspirated, direct-injected V8, gasoline with cylinder deactivation
Compression ration (x:1)
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
355 @ 5,600
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)
383 @ 4,100
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)
The Suburban?s 5.3-liter V8 is at its best when it?s at full throttle. In fact, full throttle is really the only time we can appreciate this engine. Throttle tip-in feels unnecessarily long and heavy, which doesn?t make a 5,900-pound vehicle feel any lighter. Our quickest runs came by using lots of power-braking at launch. You will develop some wheel spin at launch when running in 2WD, so for maximum acceleration we used Auto 4WD mode, power-braking to bring the revs to about 2,500 rpm. If the stability control off isn?t turned off, engine rpm will be limited to 1,250 rpm. We also discovered there?s a big delay when shifting in Manual mode at full throttle (independent of running into the engine rev limiter by shifting too late). Because of this, manual shifting was slower. The transmission blips the throttle on manual downshifts and hold gears to the rev limiter. Manual shifting is via a rocker switch on the column lever. Full-throttle application in Manual mode won't elicit a kickdown.
Stopping ability in a vehicle this big is critically important, and the Suburban does not disappoint. Braking distances didn?t vary by more than a couple feet, with excellent straight-line stability under full ABS. Front-end dive is more than most vehicles, though it wasn't that bad considering it's such a tall and heavy SUV. Unlike the throttle, the brake pedal exhibited no unusual response characteristics.
With the Z71 off-road package, replete with all-terrain tires, we expected the Suburban to exhibit more understeer than it did around the steady-state cornering of the skid pad. Despite its size and weight, the chassis felt remarkably responsive to steering inputs. Some ride comfort is definitely sacrificed for the gain in this area. Our best skid pad runs were done in Manual shift mode in 1st gear, and the Suburban didn?t struggle too much to maintain a consistent course.