Large SUV; Built in USA, Mexico
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,400 – $4,700*


1993 Chevrolet Suburban 1500


1992 Chevrolet Suburban C1500


1994 Chevrolet Suburban K2500


1997 Chevrolet Suburban K1500 LT


1997 Chevrolet Suburban C1500 LS

Pros:
  • Acceleration (7.4-liter)
  • Antilock brakes
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Highway ride
  • Trailer-towing capability
  • Visibility
Cons:
  • Acceleration (early models)
  • Fuel economy
  • Handling
  • Maneuverability
  • Rear-seat entry/exit

Through the early ’90s, Suburbans were virtually unchallenged in the full-size wagon segment. GM’s Tahoe/Yukon offers much of the Suburban’s brawn in a more manageable size. Still, those two cannot match the Suburban’s payload ratings and towing ability. Neither can they seat more than six–a feat that’s possible, however, in a Ford Expedition with third-row seating, as well as in a full-size van.

Overview

Suburbans moved to the platform of the current full-size GM pickup trucks for 1992. Cargo space and towing capacity grew. As before, Suburbans were sold in nearly identical form by Chevrolet and GMC dealers. Both have four side doors. Wheelbase grew two inches (to 131.5), and Suburbans stood 3.2 inches lower. Glass area grew by 30 percent, and buyers could choose either twin swing-open rear panel doors or a lift-glass tailgate. A 210-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 continued as standard, but a heavy-duty 190-horsepower version went into some 2500-series models. Diesel V8s departed, but a 7.4-liter gas V8 could be installed. A 4-speed automatic was the only transmission. Suburbans came with 2- or 4-wheel drive, in a 1500 series with half-ton payload, or as the 2500 series rated 3/4 ton. Each could be equipped to seat up to nine passengers. Part-time Insta-Trac 4WD had standard automatic-locking hubs. Antilock brakes now worked on all four wheels, in either 2WD or 4WD.

Yearly Updates

1993 Suburban
Electronic control for the automatic transmission was one of the few changes in Chevrolet’s big wagon. The new automatic also added a second-gear start feature, for increased traction on slippery surfaces.
1994 Suburban
A turbodiesel engine returned to the powertrain parade, as side door-guard beams and a center high-mounted stoplamp were installed.
1995 Suburban
A driver-side airbag was added, in a redesigned interior with recontoured seats. The turbodiesel engine could now go into 1500-series models as well as the 2500 series, and the standard V8 lost 10 horsepower.
1996 Suburban
More-potent Vortec engines debuted for ’96. The 5.7-liter gas V8 leaped from 200 to 250 horsepower. The optional 7.4-liter V8 gained 60 horsepower (now 290). Pushbutton engagement for the 4-wheel-drive system became available, and daytime running lights were installed.
1997 Suburban
A passenger-side airbag was installed on ’97 models. Outboard seats in the middle row gained height-adjustable shoulder-belt anchors. The standard 5.7-liter engine added five horsepower.
1998 Suburban
Suburban added an optional full-time 4WD system called Autotrac. This system can remain engaged on any road surface.
1999 Suburban
GM’s biggest wagon was all but unchanged for ’99, pending the arrival of a redesigned 2000 model.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive

Suburbans carried a standard 210-horsepower, 5.7-liter gas V8, with a heavy-duty version and a big 7.4-liter V8 available. The 5.7-liter V8 dropped to 210 horsepower for 1995. Both gas V8s gained considerable power the next year, and the 5.7 added five more horses for ’97. The 7.4-liter engine was optional only in the 2500 series. A 6.5-liter turbodiesel arrived for 1994. Regardless of engine, the only transmission available was a 4-speed automatic.

Turbodiesel ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 6.5/400
Engine HP 190
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 385
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

15/18

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.7/350
Engine HP 190-210
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 300-310
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

13/17

10.7

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 7.4/454
Engine HP 230-290
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 265-410
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

NA

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.7/350
Engine HP 250-255
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 330-335
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

12/16

13.9

Road Test

Evolved from GM pickup trucks, full-size Suburbans might be fitted to haul either cargo or passengers. Step-in height is a lot lower than in earlier Suburbans. Even so, it’s tough to get in and out from the back because the opening between door pillar and seat is narrow, and step-in height of 4WD Suburbans is still quite tall. Access to the optional third seat demands some serious stooping.

Three can easily sit abreast, but there’s not as much stretch-out leg room for adults in the back seats as the vehicle’s size would suggest. Folding the 70/30 split middle bench is a two-step procedure, and a handy carpeted panel hinges down to create a flat load floor from front seatbacks to the front of the rear-most bench. Unfortunately, the rear bench’s seatback does not fold flat. Though it’s removable, that seat is heavy and cumbersome.

Visibility is fine, from a carlike seating position. Controls are within easy reach, though the climate and radio buttons suffer from a haphazard layout. Cargo space is cavernous and loading is easy, because the load floor is more than two feet off the ground.

Acceleration with the early 5.7-liter V8 is only adequate in town, and the transmission is reluctant to downshift. With its extra 50 horsepower, the Vortec gas V8 introduced for 1996 gives the Suburban a much-needed boost. That one is more lively off the line, and teams with an improved transmission to furnish better power for passing and climbing long grades. No longer is it necessary to push the pedal to the floor to induce a downshift.

Fuel economy is no bonus, with any engine. Don’t expect much more than the miserable 10.7 mpg achieved in mixed driving with a K1500. The big 7.4-liter engine is the choice for truly heavy towing, but most shoppers will be satisfied with a 5.7-liter V8.

Suburbans are smooth and capable on the highway. Bumps are absorbed well, with only moderate floating over freeway dips–though turns at any speed are accompanied by noticeable body lean. Simulated panic stops induce pronounced nosedive, and occasionally a bit of rear-wheel lockup (despite the antilock braking system).

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Chevrolet Suburban 5.7-liter

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 1
10%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 3
30%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
60%
Cargo Room - 8
80%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 49

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
131.5 220.0 76.7 70.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
149.5 42.0 9
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.9 38.9 41.3 26.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Suburban 1500 4-door wagon

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 61
Injury 42
Theft 146

Trouble Spots

Brake wear
Description: Front brake linings wear rapidly. Replacing the proportioning valve and the rear shoes with a different friction material prolongs front brake life. (1992-99)
Clutch
Description: The clutch may fail to engage or disengage, or become noisy due to overtravel of the clutch damper on trucks with the 6.5-liter diesel engine. Revised parts are available to prevent recurrence. (1992-99)
Dashboard lights
Description: The oil-pressure gauge may read high, move erratically, or not work because the oil-pressure sensor is defective. (1992-93)
Doors
Description: The rear cargo doors may be hard to open because the hinges corrode requiring the hinge pins and bushings to be replaced. (1992-97)
Fuel pump
Description: The electronic injection pump on diesel engines is prone to failures and may be covered under an extended warranty up to 11 years or 120,000 miles.
Hard starting
Description: No-starts, hard starting, or rough idle may be due to some gasolines dissolving compounds in the fuel-filler pipe that then clog the fuel injectors. (1997-99)
Oil leak
Description: Oil loss and fouled spark plugs result from intake manifold gasket leaks. (1996-98)
Transmission leak
Description: Fluid may leak from the pump body on 4L60-E transmissions due to the pump bushing walking out of the valve body. (1995-96)

Recall History

1992
Description: Brake-pedal pivot bolt can disengage.
1994
Description: Reversed polarity of brake switch can cause contacts to wear prematurely; may result in loss of brake lights without warning.
1994-96
Description: Solder joints can crack, causing windshield wipers to work intermittently.
1994-97
Description: The windshield wiper motor may fail on certain vehicles. Dealer will inspect and replace affected parts.
1995 w/automatic transmission
Description: When shift lever is placed in “Park” position, its indicator light may not illuminate.
1995 w/automatic transmission
Description: External transmission leak can occur.
1995-96 w/gasoline engine
Description: Throttle cable may contact dash mat and bind.
1997-98
Description: On certain vehicles, the outside rearview mirror switch may short circuit. Dealer will inspect and replace affected parts.
1998
Description: On some vehicles, one or both front-brake rotors/hubs may have out-of-spec gray iron that can fail during life of vehicle.
1999
Description: In a crash, right front passenger-restraint systems may not meet neck extension requirements.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.