The sport-utility vehicle began as a truck-based passenger package like this Suburban, but as the popularity of the SUV has increased, the sedan-based crossover has taken over. It should be no surprise because crossover SUVs are generally easier to drive and deliver more ride comfort, plus prove more fuel-efficient. At the same time, carlike crossovers lack the adventure capability delivered by tough, truck-based SUVs.
If you need to carry a lot of people, pack a lot of cargo or tow something heavy, the 2017 Chevrolet Suburban can deliver. At an overall length of nearly 17 feet, the Suburban can transport the entire Brady Bunch (including Alice). Meanwhile, tough, body-on-frame trucklike construction helps the Suburban tow up to 8,300 pounds. And all-terrain mobility is also part of the program thanks to the four-wheel-drive system. Such classic sport-utility capability is accompanied by a fairly luxurious interior, which can be optioned with all the electronics you might expect. Even so, the Suburban's size does compromise its around-town maneuverability, and the truck-derived hardware can compromise ride comfort, which together contribute to this vehicle's middling grades in our regimented consumer evaluations.
The Suburban is mechanically identical to the GMC Yukon XL, but GMC's available engine upgrade gives the Yukon XL the ability to deliver stronger performance. The Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia are strong competitors, although both have been in production for 10 years without a comprehensive redesign. For the time being, the 2017 Chevrolet Suburban remains the newest entry in the small class of full-size adventure-style SUVs, yet the GMC and Toyota still achieve higher customer scores.
Standard safety equipment for all 2017 Chevy Suburbans includes antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control (with trailer sway control), front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. An airbag located between the front bucket seats (when so equipped) offers additional protection in side-impact crashes. Also standard is a teen-driver management system, a reminder to check the backseats for child occupants before vacating the vehicle, rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera. Also standard is the subscription-based OnStar system, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation.
Optional safety equipment includes front parking sensors, forward collision alert with automatic low-speed braking, lane departure warning and intervention, a safety-alert driver seat (which vibrates on either the right, left or both sides to warn drivers of danger), rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring.
In government crash tests, the 2017 Chevrolet Suburban received four out of five stars for overall and front-crash protection, five stars for side-impact protection and three stars for rollover protection. In Edmunds testing, a rear-drive Suburban came to a stop from 60 mph in 134 feet, a rather long distance even for a full-size SUV. A 4WD Suburban with the Z71 package improved slightly to 131 feet.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Chevrolet Suburban is a full-size SUV with seating for up to nine passengers. It is offered in LS, LT and Premier trim levels.
Standard features for the LS include 18-inch alloy wheels, active grille shutters for better fuel economy, heated mirrors, automatic wipers, cruise control, remote keyless entry, remote ignition, rear parking sensors, trailer hitch receiver with wiring harness, rocker-sill passenger steps and cargo rails for the roof.
In the cabin, you get tri-zone automatic climate control, cloth seating upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable driver seat (six-way-adjustable front passenger seat), 60/40-split folding second- and third-row bench seats, a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel, teen-driver monitoring with control over certain settings, convex mirror to monitor rear seat passengers, OnStar emergency telematics with navigation, Wi-Fi hot spot, a household-rated power outlet, MyLink infotainment system, an 8-inch touchscreen interface, rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, a six-speaker CD player with mobile apps, HD radio, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, five USB ports, and auxiliary audio input.
The optional Enhanced Driver Alert package adds forward collision alert with automatic low-speed braking, a vibrating safety-alert driver seat, automatic high beams, lane keeping assist and power-adjustable pedals.
The LT trim includes all of the above, along with a power-operated liftgate, leather upholstery, heated front bucket seats (thereby reducing passenger capacity to eight), 10-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, telescoping steering wheel, driver-seat memory functions, auto-dimming rearview camera, universal garage-door opener and a nine-speaker Bose audio system.
The optional Luxury package adds a hands-free power-operated tailgate, power-folding mirrors, auto-dimming driver-side mirror, foglights, front parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, keyless entry and ignition, heated second-row seats, power-folding second- and third-row seats, a heated, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and wireless charging pad. The Texas Edition package is equipped identically, although it adds badges, plus crossbars for the cargo rails mounted on the roof.
The Premier trim includes the Luxury package and adds 20-inch wheels, xenon headlights, an adaptive Magnetic Ride Control suspension, ventilated front seats, a navigation system with real-time traffic, 12-way power front seats and a 10-speaker premium Bose surround-sound upgrade.
The LT and Premier trims are eligible for second-row bucket seats (thereby reducing seating capacity to seven). In addition, the Sun, Entertainment and Destinations option package includes a sunroof, a navigation system for the LT trim, extended satellite radio and traffic service, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with input for HDMI and MHL. Adaptive cruise control with automatic braking, power-retractable rocker-sill passenger steps and a head-up display are available only on the Premier trim.
Offered on all trims are 22-inch wheels. The Max Trailering package can also be had on all trims, and it includes a special rear-axle ratio, electronic two-speed transfer case (for 4WD models), a trailer brake controller, and an auto-leveling suspension for non-magnetic suspension vehicles. The Z71 Off-Road package is available only on the LT trim, and it includes all-terrain tires, unique cosmetic elements, tubular-type rocker-sill passenger steps, underbody skid plates, an off-road suspension calibration, electronically operated two-speed transfer case, hill descent control, front parking sensors and rubber floor mats.
Many of the standard features offered by the top trim levels of the Suburban are available as options for the lower trim levels.
Powering all 2017 Chevrolet Suburban models is a 5.3-liter V8 engine that produces 355 hp and 383 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only available transmission. Rear-wheel drive with a locking rear differential is standard, and four-wheel drive with a single-speed transfer case is available as an option. A two-speed transfer case comes with the Max Trailering and Z71 Off-Road packages.
Towing capacity maxes out at 6,300 pounds for rear-drive Suburbans and 6,000 pounds with four-wheel drive. The Max Trailering package increases towing capacity by 2,000 pounds.
In Edmunds performance testing, a rear-wheel-drive Suburban accelerated to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, which is quick for the class. A 4WD model with the Z71 package turned in an identical result. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 19 mpg combined (16 city/23 highway) for rear-wheel-drive models and 18 mpg combined (15 city/22 highway) for four-wheel-drive versions. These estimates are better than other full-size SUVs in the class.
The stout 5.3-liter V8 under the 2017 Suburban's hood is easily up to the task of hauling a full complement of people and cargo, although the heavy effort of the throttle pedal (a measure to improve fuel economy) makes the vehicle react sluggishly. The lethargy that results means that the driver needs to get on the gas pedal earlier and more aggressively when merging onto a highway or passing slower traffic.
As a passenger, there is a mix of positive and negative impressions within the cabin. The interior is quiet on the highway — wind roar, road noise, and powertrain thrash have been silenced to barely detectable levels. The available adaptive Magnetic Ride Control suspension provides a smooth ride over the bumps and thumps of the road surface. At the same time, small surface imperfections transmit noticeable shake and shudder, and opting for the optional 22-inch wheels degrades the ride quality even further.
The 2017 Chevrolet Suburban is one massive SUV, and this is readily apparent when you're behind the wheel. As a truck-based SUV, it's not nearly as agile or maneuverable as car-based crossovers, and multiple-point turns will be a common occurrence in tight confines. At the same time, the Suburban is an eager partner in all kinds of outdoor adventures, and few vehicles deliver so much capability at this price point.
As you'd expect from the full-size footprint, 2017 Chevrolet Suburban's interior is indeed oversized, yet it's really only spacious for the first two seating rows. Cabin materials are noticeably nicer than rivals, particularly for LT and Premier trims. From the driver seat, visibility is understandably limited by the sheer size of the vehicle, but it's better than you might expect. The standard rearview camera and rear parking sensors help to take away some of the guesswork when backing into a parking space.
Front seats easily accommodate larger occupants, but the base model's tilt-only steering wheel might force taller drivers to contend with a long reach. The middle-row bench or optional bucket seats are similarly spacious, although the range of adjustment is limited. By comparison, the third-row seats are compromised by minimal padding and cramped legroom because the seats are meant to be folded to improve cargo capacity.
Cargo space is impressive, with 38.9 cubic feet of space behind the third row of seats, 76.7 cubic feet behind the second row, and 121.1 cubic feet behind the first row. These figures are comparable to the Toyota Sequoia, but they are smaller than those of the Ford Expedition XL. While there's no doubt that the Suburban can hold all of your stuff, remember that truck-style high cargo floor (which must clear the solid-axle suspension beneath) makes for strenuous loading.
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.