Large SUV; Built in USA, Mexico
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,200 – $4,500*


1992 GMC Suburban


1994 GMC Suburban


1996 GMC Suburban


1997 GMC Suburban interior


1997 GMC Suburban

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

If you must have space for nine occupants and a heavy load of luggage, or need to tow a trailer or boat, only Ford’s Expedition comes close. But we prefer the more-nimble GMC Yukon.

Overview

Suburbans moved to the platform of the then-current full-size General Motors C/K pickup trucks for 1992. Bodies measured slightly shorter and narrower. Cargo space and towing capacity increased. As before, Suburbans were sold in nearly identical form by GMC and Chevrolet dealers. Rear-wheel-drive models got a C designation, while 4-wheel-drive Suburbans were named K. A 1500 suffix indicates a 1/2-ton payload, whereas 2500 indicates 3/4-ton. A 210-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 continued as standard, but a heavy-duty 190-horsepower version went into some 2500-series models. Diesel V8 engines departed, but a 7.4-liter gasoline V8 was available. All Suburbans had a 4-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel antilock brakes. Part-time Insta-Trac 4WD had automatic-locking hubs. Suburbans could be equipped to seat up to nine passengers. The standard configuration consisted of four side doors and two swing-open rear doors. A tailgate with top-hinged rear window was optional.

Yearly Updates

1993 Suburban
A new transmission was one of few alterations for 1993, gaining electronic shift controls plus a second-gear start feature that increased traction on slippery surfaces.
1994 Suburban
A turbodiesel V8 engine returned in 1994. Side door-guard beams and a center high-mount stoplamp were installed.
1995 Suburban
A driver-side airbag was added for 1995, in a revised interior with recontoured seats. The turbodiesel engine was now available in the 1500 series. The standard V8 engine lost 10 horsepower.
1996 Suburban
More potent Vortec engines joined for ’96. The 5.7-liter V8 leaped from 200 to 250 horsepower, while the 7.4-liter went from 230 to 290 horses. Pushbutton engagement for the 4WD system became available.
1997 Suburban
A passenger-side airbag joined the driver’s airbag for ’97. A new button in the cargo area controlled power door locks.
1998 Suburban
GMC added a full-time 4WD system, standard anti-theft system, and optional satellite tracking system for 1998. Called AutoTrac, the new 4WD replaced the part-time system but kept the two-speed transfer case for off-road driving.
1999 Suburban
GM’s biggest wagon was all but unchanged for ’99 pending the arrival of a redesigned 2000 model, to be known as the Yukon XL rather than the Suburban.

Engines

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

Standard engine was a 210-horsepower 5.7-liter V8. Optional on the 2500-series (with GVW over 8500 pounds) was a heavy-duty version of the 5.7-liter, rated 190 horsepower. Also optional on the 2500: a 7.4-liter V8 with 230 horsepower. Sole transmission was a 4-speed overdrive automatic. By 1994, a 6.5-liter turbodiesel V8 could be installed. Revised GM Vortec engines for ’96 delivered more power: 250 horsepower for the 5.7-liter (up 50), and 290 for the 7.4-liter (up 60).

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) 365-410
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

Though front- and middle-row passengers have ample room in the Suburban, there’s not enough room for adults to stretch out in the back. Still, each seat is wide enough for three to fit easily. The rear bench does not fold flat, but it’s removable. Step-in height is a lot lower than in prior Suburbans. Cargo space is cavernous. Access to the optional third seat demands serious stooping. Visibility is fine, from a car-like seating position.

Acceleration with the 5.7-liter V8 is sufficient for most requirements, but only adequate in town, and the transmission is reluctant to downshift. The extra 50 horsepower delivered by the Vortec engine, introduced for 1996, gives the Suburban a welcome boost. Still, a 7.4-liter gasoline V8, or the 6.5-liter turbodiesel, is better for heavy-duty tasks. Gasoline V8s guzzle heavily. Expect no more than 10-12 mpg in city driving, or 16-18 on the highway.

Suburbans are smooth, capable, and comfortable on the highway, absorbing bumps well with only moderate floating. On the negative side, substantial body lean in turns at any speed encourages drivers to slow down. Simulated panic stops can produce pronounced nosedive, and occasional rear-wheel lockup.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 GMC 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 38.8 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 62
Injury 47
Theft 122

Trouble Spots

Brake wear
Description: Front brake linings wear rapidly and replacing the proportioning valve and the rear shoes with a different friction material, prolongs front brake life. (1992-99)
Climate control
Description: The temperature control lever may slide from hot to cold, usually when the blower is on high speed. (1992-94)
Climate control
Description: The air conditioning may randomly switch the recirc mode and have poor output due to a slipping fan clutch. (1997)
Dashboard lights
Description: The oil pressure gauge may read high, move erratically, or not work because the oil pressure sensor is defective. (1990-93)
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: Automatic transmission pump may leak (model 4L60). A revised pump bushing is available. (1995-96)
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: Brake-switch contacts can wear prematurely; may result in loss of brake lights without warning.
1994-96
Description: Solder joints can crack, causing windshield wipers to work intermittently.
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 rotor/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.