The 2021 Chevy Suburban is big. Technically, it’s 19% larger than the previous generation. That’s 144.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity, the most of any SUV on sale. This is partly due to a new independent rear suspension (IRS) replacing the solid rear axle, which allows for more cargo space and legroom, and partly to a lower cargo floor. The new Suburban will be based on the Silverado’s design, and you’ll notice this isn’t by accident.
“It’s the biggest product program GM has ever done,” said Tim Herrick, Vice President of Global Product Programs. “It is unprecedented in size and scope, and amount of capital put on it.” He said there were 10,000 people working on the truck architecture overall at any given time. Their mission was to differentiate the Chevys from their GMC counterparts, differentiate the light-duty trucks from the heavy-duty trucks and SUVs, and differentiate the trim levels of each nameplate.
The Suburban is being built in Arlington, Texas, where GM has invested $1.4 billion to accommodate the changes to the vehicle, including a new paint shop and body shop, among others
“There are no vehicles like Tahoe and Suburban which have starred in Hollywood movies, carried military heroes and world leaders, and helped create countless family memories,” said Barry Engle, President of General Motors North America.
“We are here to win,” said Mark Reuss, President of General Motors. “The new versions will be just as dominant today.” He is referring, of course, to the Suburban’s market dominance over the last 85 years. In 1935, the Suburban created the template for the family SUV and has not veered off course in its commitment to the full-size segment.
First Full-Size SUV With Diesel Option
The 2021 Suburban will be the only full-size SUV with a diesel option in the U.S. This is a great option if you are looking for better fuel efficiency, and the engine does not lack power. You can expect 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque from the diesel engine—a Duramax 3.0-liter I6 turbodiesel.
The standard engines carry over from the previous generation, but there are notable changes. The 355 hp 5.3-liter and 420 hp 6.2-liter V8 engines now have a more efficient Dynamic Fuel Management system. This replaces the Active Fuel Management system. You’ll find this new system in light-duty pick-up trucks as well. It is designed to provide better fuel efficiency. The new Suburban is bigger and heavier, so this system helps with fuel efficiency, though do not expect big changes in mpg ratings when they are released. A 10-speed automatic transmission is standard.
Design and Interior
Phil Zak, Chevrolet Executive Design Director, said the goal of the design was to create six different expressions of personalities with the six trim levels, as well as differentiate the Suburban from the GMC Yukon. So expect there to be something for everyone in the trim levels.
The LS, LT, and Premier trim levels will carry over from the previous year. The RST, Z71, and High Country trims are new this year. The RST gets a few sporty additions, and the Z71 gets more off-road aids, such as standard all-wheel drive, all-terrain tires, and a skid plate. The top-end High Country model includes the bigger V8 along with more equipment, different badging, a different grille, and plusher interior trim.
In the past, the Suburban hasn’t necessarily been known for its luxury interiors, but with the 2021 model year, expect upgraded materials and more luxury touches, such as a panoramic roof. “The interior is brighter thanks to expanded glass areas—including an available panoramic sunroof and class-leading display technologies—and more refined with premium materials,” Chevy noted.
It seems that Chevy has taken this reputation to heart because the new interior of the Suburban looks nothing like the Silverado, even though they share a similar architecture. The design and shape of the door cards, for example, are very different, and the gear selector in the Silverado has been replaced with a more refined button configuration. Overall, this is a much more elegant and refined interior than in previous generations.
Standard is a 10-inch color infotainment screen with an 8.0-inch instrument cluster on top trim levels and 4.2-inch driver information center on the LS, LT, RST, and Z71 trims. A massive 15-inch head-up display is also an option and a first for the full-size SUV segment. For the rear seats, there are 12.6-inch screens available for the backs of the front and second-row seats. To keep the kids even more engaged, there is also the ability to share screen content between the rear-seat screens.
In another first, Chevy will offer Air Ride Adaptive Suspension, with automatic load-leveling and ride-height adjustment, in the 2021 Suburban. This will be offered alongside an updated version of Magnetic Ride Control and will allow you to adjust up to 4 inches if you need to raise or lower the SUV. On the highway, it will automatically lower the vehicle 0.75 inches for better aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.
You can also lower the suspension by 2 inches when parked for easier passenger access, and raise the suspension an inch in 4-high and 2 inches in 4-low. Two inches of clearance is a big deal if you find yourself dealing with difficult driving conditions—if the plow hasn’t come through yet—or you just feel the sudden need to take your Suburban off-road.
The other suspension system offered is Magnetic Ride Control, which alters the damping of the shocks automatically based on road conditions. Chevy says this greatly reduces body roll and bounces. This is standard on the Premier and High Country trim levels, and an option on the Z71 package.
New Safety Features?
An overhaul would not be complete without upgraded safety features. Chevy’s Automatic Emergency Braking system is standard on all trim levels with the new Suburban, and that is not the only safety feature that is standard now. Chevy says there are 30 different safety and driver conveniences included in the Suburban. These include a forward collision alert system, an inboard seat-mounted side airbag for the driver, lane-keep assist, a blind-spot alert, and lane-change alert.
Also worth noting is a special hitch guidance system that simplifies trailer hook up. Now you can tow your boat to the lake without worrying if you hooked up the trailer correctly. This is a great safety feature, especially if you’re driving behind the boat. Another driver assist feature new to the Suburban is a high-definition surround-view camera. This helps you with parking in tight spots and negotiating parking lots and shopping carts, among other things.
If you’re wondering how much it costs and when it will be available, Chevy hasn’t released that information just yet. But if you look at last year’s model, you can get an idea of the starting price. The 2020 model starts at $52,000, and you can expect with all of the upgrades that the new model year will be a little more. You can expect the Suburban to go on sale, however, by the middle of 2020, so you won’t have to wait too long to see just how much GM has put into the latest generation of this iconic and long-lasting SUV.