In America, a large SUV has long become a substitute for a minivan, the market for which has been rapidly declining in recent years. This is a shuttle for transporting families and small business delegations, intelligence agents, and security for political figures. Fans of an active but leisurely lifestyle drag their boats and trailers with them, and conquering off-road conditions is not on the list of everyday tasks, primarily because it is hard to find off-road, which means all-wheel drive is just an option.

Half a million full-size SUVs per year – is it a lot or a little? This is only 3% of the US automobile market. More than half of this pie belongs to the General Motors concern – the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban brothers and their closest relatives under the GMC brand. SUVs were updated several years ago, and today, car specialists from Indy Auto Man are ready to present them in all their glory.

Inevitable evolution

The hardware of large Chevrolets has been developing just as slowly over the years: frame construction, continuous rear axle, naturally aspirated V8, and mono-wheel drive, which can be turned into a four-wheel drive as an option. And this frozen evolution has a completely logical explanation – SUVs, as a rule, are based on the platform of related pickup trucks. In particular, for the Tahoe/Suburban, the North American bestseller, the Chevrolet Silverado, became the donor. However, the conservatism of the design does not prevent Chevy SUVs from selling quite successfully and even maintaining leadership in the class. Even though their direct competitor, the Ford Expedition, twenty years ago acquired not only an independent rear suspension but also a turbo engine. Although, despite all attempts to be modern, Expedition comes from the rural outback, and its brother and donor Ford F-150 is a typical redneck. But time is inexorable and the latest generation Tahoe/Suburban does not have a rear axle. Instead, an independent suspension with three wishbones and one longitudinal link appeared, and, optionally, air suspension and diesel.

Latest upgrades

With the change of generations, the distance between the axles of the Suburban increased by 4 inches, although the length grew by only 1.3 inches compared to its predecessor. Almost the entire increase went to the third row and trunk. The absence of a hump on the frame for a continuous axle made it possible to free up space in the third row, especially in the legs section. And now, passengers in the third row do not sit with their knees raised but can finally relax: there are plenty of space, and the proportion between the rows can alter thanks to adjustments in the 10-inch range. And at the same time, there is no compromise between the passenger seats and the trunk. There are 41 cubic feet of volume behind the backs of the third row, and if you fold them, you get more than 140 cubic feet. By the way, when this space is filled to the ceiling, a virtual rear-view mirror is very helpful, displaying the image from the camera on the trunk door.

Appearance and exterior

Along with the rear suspension, the appearance also changed. Below the line of windows, the Chevrolet has become similar to the already mentioned Ford Expedition. Under the rear bumper, two levers with shock absorbers mounted at the lowest point are visible. The off-road solution is questionable, but this function is not a priority. However, there is a special Z71 version for off-road enthusiasts. These Tahoe/Suburbans can boast an all-wheel drive transmission, air springs, a dual-range transfer case, and 20-inch alloy wheels with BF Goodrich tires. Externally, this version is distinguished by the lack of chrome, sloping bumper, red tow hooks, and Z71 badges on the front fenders.

The interior design is typical of many modern cars, and the multimedia screen occupies a central place.

Another step forward is the increased level of finishing, an abundance of soft leatherette, aluminum, and high-quality plastic. The keys are mostly physical, and even the automatic transmission is controlled by buttons, and the classic gearstick, alas, is a thing of the past. The automatic transmission selector is located to the right of the steering wheel.

Engine range

Gasoline naturally aspirated V8s are the same: 5.3 liters (360 hp, 383 lb-ft of torque) and 6.2 liters (426 hp, 460 lb-ft), but slightly upgraded. They have a phase shifter on a single camshaft, direct fuel injection, and a system for shutting off some cylinders at low loads. However, a third engine also appeared – an in-line six-cylinder turbodiesel with a volume of 3.0 liters and a power of 281 hp. It is installed, like other engines, with a ten-speed automatic transmission developed jointly by GM and Ford.

Driving experience

One cannot expect sharpness and refined handling from such a mastodon. However, these are no longer those “old Americans” whose steering wheel was needed only to set an approximate direction. The new Suburban rolls noticeably less, handles small bumps easily, and stands up well on curves. Parking is a separate entertainment. Even in spacious parking lots, getting into a free space on the first try is almost impossible. The length does not allow turning, and you have to do it in two steps. Considering the dimensions, this is not surprising. Fortunately, all-around parking sensors and cameras make the task much easier. Recently, a sensor for the presence of passengers on the seat has appeared in cars, which does not allow you to forget anyone inside after difficult parking. The fuel economy of the 5.3-liter V8 in the combined cycle is about 17 mph. By modern standards, the appetite is decent. But, firstly, it is worth remembering the size and weight, and, secondly, Toyota and Lexus in a similar form factor eat no less.

It was not easy to shake GM’s position before, but now, when two weighty arguments—the updated Tahoe and Suburban—strengthened them, it is nearly impossible. The good news for the buyers is that the assortment of these outstanding SUVs in the used car market is also growing, while prices on previous generations will please the fans of power and size.

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