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A white 2023 Chevy Suburban is shown from the front at an angle while driving down the road.

The Chevy Suburban: How It Has Improved over Time

Not many vehicles have been continuously produced for over eight decades, but the Suburban is an exception. In 1935, Chevy released the first Suburban model. It started as a rear-wheel drive, two-door model with a max 60 horsepower rating. Now, the 2023 Chevy Suburban is a four-wheel drive, four-door SUV that can produce up to 420 horsepower with its V8 engine option. Power and cargo space have increased over the years, but this model’s purpose remains the same. The Suburban has always been a family-oriented vehicle despite its significant changes between 1935 and the present day. Let’s look at how much Chevy has improved upon the Suburban since its first-generation days.

The First-Generation Suburban

It’s no surprise that the longest-running vehicle model started off strong. The 1935 Chevy Suburban was one of the first vehicles in its class to get a steel frame. This is difficult to imagine now, but most lightweight truck bodies were still made from wood at this point. The original Suburban was classified as a lightweight truck despite looking like a station wagon or SUV to a modern audience. First referred to as the “Carryall Suburban” or “Suburban Carryall,” this early “truck” could seat up to 8 people altogether. The Suburban’s truck classification is unrealistic from our point of view—by today’s standards, the 1935 Chevy Suburban clearly matches the definition of the first SUV.

The Middle Years

The Suburban has undergone many transformations over the past several decades. By 1967, the sixth-generation Suburban upgraded from two doors to three—one front door and two rear passenger doors. Chevy also added in a three-quarter-ton option for additional capability if needed. The seventh generation’s most significant change is that it gained four doors, but it also came with a few minor advancements. Electronically controlled fuel injection became standard, leading to better fuel economy, less maintenance, and more power.

The eighth-generation Suburban arrived in 1992 with a design that we’re all much more familiar with. This SUV-styled model came with several upgrades, including OnStar capability and a full-time all-wheel drive system. Chevy’s popular StabiliTrak system showed up during the Suburban’s ninth generation, increasing traction control and improving performance during harsh weather conditions. Driver assistance features such as Side Blind Zone Alert and Hill Start Assist became available by the 10th generation (2007 – 2014).

A red 2014 Chevy Suburban is shown from the front while driving down a road.

The 11th-Generation Chevy Suburban (2015 – Present)

The Suburban, as most of us know it today, has been on the market since 2015. This 11th-generation lineup is packed with modern technology, includes a more innovative body style, and is powered by the direct-injected EcoTec3 5.3-L engine. The new engine allows the Suburban more room for fuel efficiency and tow capacity. The 2015 Suburban, the model in the generation, could reach as much as 22 MPG on the highway, making it an excellent family travel vehicle.

This fuel economy only improved over time as the Suburban gained upgraded engines and engine options. The most important upgrade may be the Duramax Diesel engine. The fuel-efficient yet capable 3.0-L Duramax Diesel engine has been available since 2021, which ensures the 11th-generation Suburban’s max fuel economy rating: 23 MPG combined. The improvements don’t stop at fuel economy, either. This model generation’s cargo capacity has steadily increased to 144.7 cu.ft. since its 2015 debut. The capabilities and technologies increase with each passing model year, leading us to the 2023 Chevy Suburban.

The Newest Model: The 2023 Chevy Suburban

The Suburban can carry up to 8 passengers, just like its original 1935 design could. While 8 passengers could always fit in this large, family-friendly model, the 2023 Suburban offers much more space for those passengers. In fact, the 2023 Chevy Suburban offers 44.5” of front leg space, 42” of second-row leg space, and 36.7” in the third row. It also has a best-in-class cargo rating, offering more cargo than any other full-size SUV model. It also provides roughly 29 cu.ft. more cargo space than the original 1935 Suburban model.

Just because it’s now classified as an SUV rather than a lightweight truck does not mean that the Suburban is weaker. It can tow as much as 8,300 lbs with its 5.3-L EcoTec V8 engine. Even the fuel-efficient diesel engine can tow as much as 8,000 lbs while still getting up to 23 MPG combined. The original 1935 Suburban was designed to haul passengers, but performance specs like these were entirely out of the question. Chevy managed to take the strengths of the original Suburban and combine modern capabilities to create the newest and best Chevy Suburban on the market—the 2023 model.

A silver 2023 Chevy Suburban Z71 is shown parked on a shore.

What Technologies Does the 2023 Suburban Offer?

Performance and space are two of this model’s greatest strengths, but its technology features don’t fall far behind them. It includes everything from entertainment features to convenience and safety technologies. The modern Suburban offers features that were once unthinkable during its 1930s debut.

Trailering Technologies

When it’s time to head to the campground or take the family on a fishing trip, the 2023 Suburban’s trailering technologies simplify the towing process. Chevy’s Advanced Trailering System includes 13 different camera views. These are divided into Hitch Views, Driving Views, and Parking Views. Each category comes with a trailer-specific camera angle.

There are multiple trailer-specific views. One is the Inside Trailer View, which allows you to check in on your cargo or livestock. Another is the Transparent Trailer View, which lets you see through your trailer to whatever is behind you. The Hitch View makes it easier to hook and unhook your trailer, and the Rear Trailer View lets you see behind your trailer when backing up. It’s essentially like your regular Rear View Camera but from the trailer’s point of view.

Other trailering features include Pre-Departure Checklists, Trailer Profiles, and Trailer Tire Pressure Monitoring. You can add your own custom checklist options in addition to the Suburban’s standard features. The Pre-Departure Checklist feature reminds you of necessary steps, like hooking up your trailer’s brake lights. Custom trailer profiles allow you to label your trailers and track their mileage. And, of course, Trailer Tire Pressure Monitoring works like traditional tire pressure technologies but is focused on trailer tires.

Entertainment Technologies

Owning an SUV in the 21st century is about more than just space. It’s about entertainment as well. You have to keep the kids occupied if you want to avoid miserably long travels. The Chevrolet Infotainment 3 System includes a 10.2” touchscreen interface where you can control Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Wi-Fi connectivity, Google Built-In, and more. Use hands-free voice commands to change the podcast episode, update GPS directions, and more. Chevy Safety Assist is present no matter which trim level you choose, giving you access to six different driver assistance technologies. You can also add more safety features as you move up the trim line.

The Suburban’s Legacy Lives On

What the Chevy Suburban is known for now is similar yet different from its initial impression on society. While technologies change, one thing remains the same: the Suburban’s family-friendly design. Future fans will look back to the 2023 Suburban and see the same patterns they see in the first-generation Suburban and on: high-quality construction, passenger space, and cargo capacity. What keeps changing is the Suburban’s capability and its technology features. I personally think Chevy has perfected the Suburban with the most recent release, but I’ve also thought that before. As great as the 2023 Chevy Suburban has become, I can’t wait to see what’s next.

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