2021 Chevrolet Suburban specs at a glance
|Seating||Up to eight|
|Engine||6.2L EcoTec3 V8|
|GCWR (Max trailer + truck weight)||14,000 pounds|
|Tech highlights||Adaptive cruise, lane-departure seat feedback, heads-up-display, wireless Android Auto or Apple CarPlay|
|Price as tested (estimated Canadian)||$90,698|
Chevrolet Canada provided a 2021 Suburban and a full tank of gas for this review
Excessiveness can get embodied by vehicles like the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban. In an age where efficiency and reducing carbon emissions is all the rage, and large, invasive, gas-guzzling vehicles are taboo. However, the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban challenges you to be taboo. There’s a place for a large, body-on-frame SUV, even in our increasingly green world. The 2021 Chevrolet Suburban isn’t the dinosaur-burning beast of Suburbans past. Chevrolet has worked hard to make the 6.2L V8 and ten-speed automatic transmission work so harmoniously. Its highway fuel economy bests some compact SUVs.
The eight-passenger SUV still has a place for large families and groups. The 2021 Chevrolet Suburban, with the suitable options, goes out of its way to make its size smaller with driving aids and sensors. It’s impossibly comfortable for extended trips inside the massive interior. But it all comes at a trade-off that’s hard to avoid. The 2021 Chevrolet Suburban is big. Bigger than ever. And, for all the benefits and technology Chevrolet deploys to support the driver, it might have gone too big.
The Elephant in the Driveway
SUVs in this segment, and the half-ton trucks they share their platform with, keep getting bigger and bigger. A half-ton truck from 2020 easily rivals the size and girth of a full one-ton workhorse from 20 years ago. The 2021 Silverado is no different, taking the SUV size to new lengths, literally. It consumed nearly a full half of the driveway. People were drawn to the Silverado, approaching it either interested or appalled at the sheer size. Without getting overly philosophical, the 2021 Silverado represents the debate currently raging among consumers. Buyers continue to flock to SUVs and trucks, even while the climate change crisis still rages.
Regardless of what you sit on this debate, the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban tries hard to slice down the middle. Its size poses some pedestrian safety issues, but our test unit’s sensors and surround-view camera came with excellent blindspot covered. The Silverado is an attractive beast, drawing the gaze of fans and passers-by. The 2021 Chevrolet Suburban’s size and styling combine in a visually delightful way. It was hard not to look at it and smile. Chevrolet has cleverly disguised the outgoing Suburban’s shape and feeling that makes the 2021 model feel more approachable, somehow.
Not how it Looks
SUVs in this category have a reputation for guzzling gas. In recent history, the innovations that helped slowly improve half-ton trucks’ mileage seemed to escape the full-sized SUVs. Now, for the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban, that’s no longer the case. The technology at work in the 6.2L V8 engine is made for the highway, taking cylinder deactivation to the next level. The 6.2L V8 and ten-speed automatic transmission can now shut down up to six cylinders. When the multi-displacement system kicks in, it’s almost impossible to detect at speed. Compared to the outgoing technology, the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban seems to have mastered this fuel-saving technology.
Unladen and on the highway, the massive size and poor aerodynamics don’t seem to keep the drivetrain from achieving impressive cruising fuel economy. Our testing saw numbers around 9/5 L/100km (24.8 mpg) on average after a 115 km (71.5 miles) drive. Around the city, however, is where the Suburban’s sheer mass works against it. Getting that much sheet metal up to speed consumes much fuel. A diesel option is available if duel consumption is a real sticking point. If it’s as good as the one in the GMC Sierra we tested, it should make the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban that much better.
A Shocking Cabin
Exteriors and drivetrains are all well and good, but the vehicle’s interior is where memories get made. Our tester, a 2021 Chevrolet Suburban High Country, sits at the top of the Suburban lineup. While the Suburban and Escalade share the same platform, that’s typically where the comparisons stop. However, for 2021, the redesigned Suburban interior is nothing short of stunning. You’d get forgiven for thinking you were in something like a Lincoln or Cadillac, except for how the interior styling seems to trend more in line with the King Ranch package from Ford. It was a surprise and carried the fresh, modern styling from the exterior.
Again, despite the size of the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban, getting into and around the rear area is easy. Automatic steps, another High Country option, provide a helpful leg up. Seats quick-fold flat for extra storage and to get access into the third row. However, it’s not needed. An adult can easily walk around the second-row seating en route to the back. A delight was discovering the space for carrying items behind the third row, plenty for long road-trips south or up to the cottage.
It wouldn’t be a modern vehicle if it didn’t brim with the latest and greatest, and the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban High Country doesn’t disappoint. It’s hard to be amazed by driver aids when you have the privilege of constantly testing vehicles with the technology. Still, the adaptive cruise and lane-keep assist in the Suburban work well enough you don’t notice. But where the technology shines is how small they make the Suburban feel. Navigating a large SUV through parking lots and city streets is tricky, and the height means there are dangerous blind spots.
Parking sensors bathe the nose and tail of the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado, providing an accurate picture of close objects. A crisp, high-definition camera is one of the best we’ve used, making reversing into tight parking spaces much less stressful. The heads-up-display is big and has lots of helpful information, including whenever one of the driver aids is activated. It was disappointing that a truck at this price point didn’t have next-gen lane-following technology. Even still, the lane-keep assist only just kept the big Suburban centered in the lane on its own.
Big on Life
The 2021 Chevrolet Suburban presents a dilemma to buyers. It’s a massive vehicle, even by SUV standards, with flashy styling and big V8 sounds. Modern technology should make it safer to drive and less thirsty on gas than full-body SUVs have ever been. For this reviewer, it felt that liking the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban in the 21st century is taboo. However, the Suburban serves a purpose that trucks or smaller three-row SUVs can’t do at its core. And, when you stack it up against its peers, the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban isn’t just competent; it punches above its weight class.