By Peter Perrotta
When I think of the Chevrolet Suburban, it is kind of hard for me not to think about the U.S. Presidential motorcades featuring all those blacked-out Suburbans which I am sure are bomb- and bulletproof.
The Secret Service commandeers a “presidential” Suburban limo for our beloved leader which has been reported to have several identical versions for security reasons. The potential bad guys will never know which Suburban the president might be traveling in on any particular day.
While I would never be pretentious enough to fantasize that I am the president, when you settle behind the wheel of one of these monstrous SUV’s, you do feel rather “presidential” – or at least like you might be worthy enough to be one of those Secret Service agents who gets to drive him around.
I recently jumped behind the wheel of the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban 4WD High Country for one week so I can entertain my On The Road fans on what it is like to drive one of these rather large SUVs.
First off, the enormity of this vehicle could be a bit unsettling – at first – but one does get used to it.
For the record, the 3.0 liter turbo diesel High Country Suburban I tested, weighs 6,072 pounds, holds 28 gallons of diesel fuel and features the following dimensions: it is 225.7 inches long; 81.1 inches wide; 75.7 inches tall.
Beyond the enormity of all that, it has a maximum cargo space – with the second and third rows folded down – of 144.7 cubic feet and can tow up to 8,300 pounds.
There is nothing like good ol’ American ingenuity folks and if that doesn’t impress you, I’m not sure what will.
But, lo and behold, this beast is not as fossil fuel happy as you might think.
Two of the biggest changes Chevy made to the Suburban for 2021 are offering it up in a much more fuel consumption friendly 3.0 liter, in-line, six cylinder turbo diesel engine and adding a fully independent rear suspension.
The Duramax turbo diesel on my tester puts out 277 horsepower at 460 pound feet of torque and is coupled with a very smooth 10 speed automatic transmission.
The EPA estimates that this six cylinder turbo diesel gets an overall rating of 22 miles per gallon – 20 mpg in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway. For a vehicle of this size, that’s not too shabby.
The EPA estimates that this version of the Suburban would cost – on average – about $2,050 per year to run as it uses 4.5 gallons of gas per every 100 miles driven.
The regular gas V-8 versions of the Suburban are not quite as fuel efficient, however. The 5.3 liter V-8 in a 4WD Suburban gets 15 mpg in city driving and 19 on the highway.
The 6.2 liter V8 4WD version gets 14 mpg in city driving and 19 on the highway.
The addition of the fully independent rear suspension is a winner in my book. By adding that feature it does two important things. It allows Chevy to redesign the rear cargo area to be completely flat – without those odd looking rear wheel humps – and it affords this Suburban a really smooth and comfortable ride.
With the addition of the fully independent rear suspension and the inclusion of an adaptive air ride suspension – included in the High Country Deluxe option package – this Suburban had a dream like ride quality to it. I found it to be extremely comfortable and shock absorbing.
Of course, none of this luxury and innovation comes cheap. My tester carries a bottom line sticker price of $82,495.
The base price of the High Country 4WD Suburban is $75,300. Added options on my tester included: $5,500 for the High Country Deluxe package; $1,995 for a rear seat entertainment system; $350 for a power sliding floor center console; $1,500 for the Duramax turbo diesel engine and $1,295 for destination and delivery.
The Deluxe High Country package is loaded with goodies including: power retractable side steps; adaptive cruise control; enhanced emergency braking; power panoramic sunroof; air ride suspension and a very advanced trailering system.
Overall, I found my week behind the wheel of the High Country diesel Suburban to be rather enjoyable.
Like I said, once you get use to the enormity of this vehicle you can settle in and enjoy its comfort. It still isn’t the kind of vehicle you want to try to take into Center City Philadelphia or New York City and try your hand at parallel parking with.
It cruises quite nicely on the highway. It’s not all that nimble in city driving, obviously.
The four wheel drive system works rather well in inclement weather. I found that in snow and ice conditions the 4X4 gave me a shot on confidence on the icy and snowy roads.
I found the 3.0 liter turbo diesel to be enough power but a tad sluggish in spots. I would have liked to try the version with the larger V-8 gas engines to compare.
At the end of the day, if you have a fairly fat wallet, a few kids, a couple of dogs and a boat to trailer this would certainly be a large SUV to have on your radar screen if you were in the market.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. For questions and comments he can be contacted at email@example.com.