2013’s The Good 12 – Chevrolet Suburban – $45,000-$50,000

CHEVROLET SUBURBAN

The Chevrolet Suburban’s downsides are widely known and easily explained in a nutshell. Suburbans are vast, and while that pays dividends inside, the size of this behemoth sucks, both in parking lots and at the fuel pump. Additionally, the eleventh-generation Suburban is nearing the end of its term, and its interior styling was never the most modern to begin with.

The Good 12 2013 logoThe penalties we pay for Suburban ownership are nothing compared to the perks we enjoy during Suburban ownership. It’s a veritable school bus, and with seats folded, it’s a genuine cargo van. Suburban 1500s have a theoretical range of 540 miles. 

The long wheelbase limits off-roading, but only to a degree: there are nine inches of ground clearance. Even in the third row, leg room stretches to 35 inches, just a speck less than you’ll have in the back of a Civic. 

Best of all, the Suburban can be a school bus and cargo van at the same time. Having seated eight of your besties, you can also throw in 45.8 cubic feet of their luggage. That’s significantly more cargo capacity than you’ll find behind the second row of the Chevrolet Equinox. The Toyota Camry’s trunk is only one-third the size.

Space equals luxury. Given how much Chevrolet is charging for a Suburban these days, it better be luxurious in one way or another.

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Engine: 320 horsepower; 335 lb-ft of torque from a 5.3L V8 or 352 horsepower; 382 lb-ft of torque from a 6.0L V8

Base USD/CAD Price: $42,545 / $52,610

City Fuel Economy: 10 – 15 

It’s Not Perfect: There are plenty of fine Suburban rivals, not the least of which is its twin, the GMC Yukon XL. Cadillac’s $66K Escalade ESV is a high-end option. Toyota’s Sequoia and Ford’s Expedition also feel a bit fresher. In other words, the Suburban is getting old, and we expect a bit more finesse from a new SUV these days, even if it is more than 18 feet long.

Sales Stats: Obviously GM isn’t selling as many full-size, truck-based sport-utility vehicles as it did a decade ago. But automakers aren’t selling as many vehicles as they used to in general, as the market is simply not the size it once was. Nevertheless, America remains a much larger market for jumbo SUVs than Canada. Although the overall U.S. new vehicle market is between eight and ten times bigger than Canada’s, Suburban volume is 46 times better in the U.S.

Viable Alternatives: Rather obviously, the GMC Yukon XL. The Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia are also impressive.