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2007 Chevrolet Suburban

Which way to the buffet?

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2007 Chevrolet Suburban

It's called "global branding," get used to it.

Photo © Jason Fogelson
You've got a big family. I mean everyone in your family is big. You like to go to buffets. You need a 2007 Chevrolet Suburban. The 2007 Chevrolet Suburban is a full-size SUV, like the United States is a full-size country. With base prices starting at $36,990 (LS) to $37,740 (LT) to $45,655 (LTZ), the 2007 Chevrolet Suburban comes with General Motors' 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty, 5 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and EPA estimates of 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway with a 5.3 liter V8 and 14 mpg/19 mpg highway with a 6.0 liter V8, slightly lower with four-wheel drive. Did I mention that this sucker was big?

First Glance

Chevy arguably created the SUV with the original Suburban, which debuted way back in 1935. The original Suburban is an icon, so much so that the design of Chevy's new SUV, the HHR (Heritage High Roof), is inspired by its lines. Suburban benefits from a new platform for 2007, the GMT900, which also underlies the new Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon, Chevy Avalanche and the full-size GM pickups. GM spent millions of dollars and considerable resources rethinking and re-engineering the bones of the SUV, and creating a new skin that helps to differentiate the models for each segment.

Starting right up front, the gold Chevy bowtie emblem is prominently displayed in the center of the grille. It's called "global branding," get used to it. You're going to recognize the new Suburban -- it looks a lot like the old Suburban, only better and more sophisticated. It's amazing what a little sprucing up will do. By stripping away the excess, cleaning up the details and bringing the level of fit and finish up a notch, Chevy has really elevated the Suburban. Beefing up and simplifying the plastic parts -- the bumper covers and the body side trim -- really gives Suburban a muscular look, and squaring off the fender wells and body panels adds a chiseled sophistication. It's a great looking SUV, a good choice if the Escalade and Yukon are too flashy for your taste. Government operatives take notice -- Suburban is the SUV for you.

Continued below...

In the Driver's Seat

Instrumentation is just how it should be, analog rotary gauges clustered above the steering wheel.

Photo © Jason Fogelson
It's a good thing that running boards (or "assist steps" in GM-speak) are standard on the Suburban -- even NBA players will need a leg up to slide in behind the wheel. Once you're up there, you'll find a simple, elegant dash. GM got the message, and upgraded the plastics and simplified the presentation, and it really works to give a much higher impression of quality.

Instrumentation is just how it should be, analog rotary gauges clustered above the steering wheel. Redundant audio and cruise controls are housed on the steering wheel, which is tilt-adjustable but not telescoping. Power adjustable pedals are an optional feature, which you should consider if you share your Suburban with other family members of different dimensions. Seating is a little overstuffed for my taste, which I find less comfortable on a long haul than a firm, supportive seat.

Suburban's second row has plenty of legroom for adults, as well as adequate hip space for three. It's not roughing it back there, either -- there are cup holders, arm rests and storage pockets galore. The second row easily folds and tumbles forward to grant easy access to the third row. At 6'2", I was able to climb back into the third row unassisted, sit comfortably, and exit without permanent physical deformity. Suburban would excel at carpool duty.

Removing Suburban's third row of seats is still a pain. They don't fold in to the floor like many competitor's seats, they still lift out and leave an exposed seat track in the cargo floor. Keep working, GM -- I don't have space in my garage for my third row.

On the Road

Suburban performs and handles so much better than previous generations that it is actually fun to drive. Starting with power -- it always starts with power, doesn't it? -- Suburban is available with two engine configurations: a 5.3 liter V8 that produces 320 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque, or a 6.0 liter V8 that makes 355 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque. Two-wheel or four-wheel drive, every Suburban comes with a four-speed automatic transmission. With curb weights in the 5,600 lb range for the half-ton, 6,000 for the three-quarter-ton versions, Suburban is surprisingly light on its feet, thanks to a sophisticated new suspension system and power assisted rack-and-pinion steering. The handling and steering is direct, controlled and very tight, more big car than big SUV. You won't forget that you're driving an SUV, but you will actually get a chance to enjoy it for a change.

Safety has also been improved in the Suburban, with a new stiffer frame, standard Stabilitrak vehicle dynamic control, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS standard, and available roof-mounted head curtain side airbags for all three rows of seats. A big worry in an accident with an SUV this big is vehicle compatibility -- what will your SUV do to a car in a head-on collision? GM is taking steps to address this issue, and has engineered the new platform to be much safer for other vehicles and pedestrians. That's a very good thing.

Journey's End

Beefing up and simplifying the plastic parts really gives Suburban a muscular look.

Photo © Jason Fogelson
If you need a full-size SUV, you need a full-size SUV. Suburban fits the bill, from stem to stern. Though GM has simplified the lineup somewhat, there's still a wide range of choices that will take you from a well-equipped $36,990 two-wheel drive half-ton LS model with the 5.3 liter V8 all the way to a fully-loaded $45,655 three-quarter-ton LTZ model with the L71 off-road package, four-wheel drive and the 6.0 liter V8. There's a Suburban for every taste and budget in between.

If you're considering a full-size SUV, you should drive the Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon as well. Though the differences between the models are largely cosmetic, there is a difference in character and attitude as well, and one of the more upscale models may appeal to you more. You should also check out the Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator, Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango, all worth considering. The Japanese manufacturers haven't ceded the full-size SUV market, either -- check out the Toyota Sequoia, Nissan Armada and their upscale cousins, the Lexus LX 470 and Infiniti QX56.

For heritage that goes all the way back to 1935, there's only one buffet wagon that will get you to the sneeze guard and back -- the 2007 Chevrolet Suburban. If you're going with my family, the half-ton will get you there, but you may need the three-quarter-ton to get you back.

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