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Driving Notes

2016 Chevrolet Suburban 4WD

March 21, 2016, by Mike Antich - Also by this author

Photo by Mike Antich.
Photo by Mike Antich.

The 2016 Chevrolet Suburban is offered in three trim levels – LS, LT, and LTZ models. It is also available in a two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive system. Recently, AF test drove the four-wheel-drive, top-of-the-line LTZ model.

The 2016 model is a carryover of the 2015-model Chevrolet Suburban, which was a complete redesign. The all-new exterior provides better aerodynamics, contributing to a noticeably quieter ride.

The Suburban is an ideal vehicle for special service fleets that need extra space to haul work crews, carry equipment, or for trailering. I’ve seen the Suburban used in law enforcement, fire departments, utilities, and various government applications.

The 2016 Suburban sits on a 130-inch wheelbase, and has an overall length of more than 220 inches. There is plenty of interior room to haul both people and materials. The Suburban LTZ has three rows of seats and can accommodate up to nine passengers and their gear. There is 39.3 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third-row seats and 121.1 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded flat. On the LTZ model, there is a convenient power feature to fold flat the second- and third-row seats to enhance cargo-carrying capacity. The power-release folding switches are easily accessible and are located at the second-row doors and at the rear liftgate opening.

The Suburban’s engine is a 5.3L V-8 VVT with direct injection and cylinder deactivation. The engine is rated at 355 hp and 383 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine has a powerful feel, offering plenty of acceleration to merge onto freeways, climb hills, or pass other vehicles.

The engine is mated to a Hydra-Matic 6L80 6-speed automatic transmission. It also features TapShift control, Tow/Haul mode, and Auto Grade Braking.

Although big, the Chevrolet Suburban 4WD has a fuel economy of 15 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined. This fuel economy is made possible by the engine’s standard cylinder deactivation and direct injection. The transition from V-8 to V-4 modes is seamless, and was completely transparent to me, with no vibration or other indication of the crossover point. Also contributing to the fuel economy rating is lightweigthing features such as an aluminum hood and liftgate panels, which help reduce the vehicle’s overall weight.

Photo by Mike Antich.
Photo by Mike Antich.

The LTZ model was very comfortable to drive with standard heated/cooled, 10-way power bucket front seats with haptic seat alerts. The Suburban offers a standard rear view camera system, which, despite the vehicle’s size, makes backing easy. To make ingress and egress by driver and passengers more ergonomic, the LTZ model offers power-retractable and illuminated side steps.

The Suburban has an abundance of utility features with lots of useful space to store small items, including a multitude of cup holders and a center console bin deep enough to hold a tablet or small notebook computer.

There is a heads-up display with digital multi-function readouts and other reconfigurable instrument cluster. Also included are OnStar with 4G LTE and a standard built-in WiFi hotspot, which was a huge hit with my passengers. In addition, there are up to six USB ports and six power outlets, including a 110-volt three-prong outlet, to support a variety of electronic devices. One new feature for the 2016 Suburban is Apple CarPlay accessed through the MyLink multicolor screen.

The most impressive thing about the 2016 Suburban is the vast array of technology and safety features in its Enhanced Driver Alert Package.

One innovative safety feature offered by the 2016 Suburban is the segment’s only front-seat center air bag (bucket-seat models), which is engineered to provide additional protection for drivers and front passengers in far-side impact crashes, where the affected occupant is on the opposite, non-struck side of the vehicle.

Another safety feature is Lane Keep Assist, which includes a camera mounted on the windshield in front of the rearview mirror to detect when the driver drifts into an adjacent lane without signaling, and assists by gently turning the steering wheel back into the lane when the turning signal isn’t engaged or if it detects the driver is actively steering.

Other LTZ driver alert technologies include:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control uses long-range radar to detect a vehicle ahead and automatically adjust the vehicle’s speed to maintain a pre-selected distance.
  • Automatic Front Braking applies the brakes in a potential collision situations to help reduce the severity of an impact or help avoid a collision.
  • Safety Alert Seat pulses the left, right, or both seat cushion bolsters to alert the driver of a dangerous situation. It is exclusive to GM.
  • IntelliBeam headlamps automatically turn a high-beam headlight on and off according to traffic conditions.

Other safety features include Side Blind Zone Alert, Lane Change Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Forward Collision Alert.

My overall driving impression of the 2016 Chevrolet Suburban was very favorable, offering a lot of utility to fleets, is very tech-friendly, and provides an impressive array of safety features to protect drivers while conducting company business.

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Amy Winter-Hercher

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Amy is an associate editor for Auto Rental News and Business Fleet.

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Andy Lundin

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Andy Lundin works on Automotive Fleet and Fleet Financials.

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Chris Brown

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Eric Gandarilla

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Mike Antich

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Mike Antich has covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and was inducted in the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010.

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Paul is the senior web editor for Automotive Fleet, Fleet Financials, Government Fleet, Green Fleet, Vehicle Remarketing, and Work Truck. He has covered police vehicles for Police Magazine.

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Thi is the executive editor of Government Fleet magazine. She is interested in maintenance management and alternative fuels.

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