Reviews

2015 Chevrolet Suburban Driving Impressions



The 2015 Suburban may be a smidge lighter than generation 11, but it’s still close to 3 tons, with a long wheelbase and a tall profile. Inevitably, that combination limits handling responses and lengthens stopping distances. On the other hand, the chassis engineers have done a very good job with the new suspension tuning, giving the Suburban surprisingly brisk responses to commands from the helm. This is attributable, at least in part, to improved roll stiffness. Though the center of gravity is high in a vehicle of this type, giving mass more leverage in cornering maneuvers, that phenomenon is minimized by suspension spring rates and antiroll bars that limit body roll, allowing quicker recovery in rapid transitions. And it helps that weight distribution is close to 50/50, front/rear.

The steering, a new electric assist power rack and pinion system, is a little numb and rather slow at 3.4 turns lock to lock. But even so, the new rig is agile by big sport-utility standards. This doesn’t make the Suburban a slalom star; mass will have its say in any dynamic equation. But it does give the driver a better chance of turning a crash into a near miss. And it does so without sacrificing ride quality, which trends toward firm, a function of spring rates designed to handle substantial loads, but it takes a sharp, nasty bump to find its way to the vehicle’s occupants.

Braking is another strong suit, again with a for-its-size asterisk. Brake pedal feel is firm, it’s easy to modulate pedal pressure, and the Suburban stops straight and true. We can’t testify to fade resistance, other than to say we failed to provoke any fade with a few hard stops, and we don’t know about stopping distances other than to mention that GM claims a slight reduction. But we can testify to system function, which is very good.

One final noteworthy dynamic element: interior noise, as in not much. Anyone who’s unable to converse at living room voice levels when the Suburban is operating at freeway speeds needs a hearing aid. Wind noise is minimal, road noise ditto, and the only time the engine becomes audible is when the driver tramps on the gas, opening flapper valves in the plumbing and adding a pleasant V8 baritone to the mix.

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