For a humongous truck-based SUV wearing a 75-year-old nameplate and competing with a number of newer models, the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban manages to earn a respectable Total Car Score.
Reviewers had a lot of good things to say about the Suburban, most notably about its cavernous interior with room for up to nine passengers or a whole lot of cargo. While the powerful V8 engines and hefty towing capacity are expected in a truck this size, the smooth ride quality will likely come as a pleasant surprise.
Not surprisingly the Suburban earned demerits for the way its gargantuan dimensions and hefty curb weight adversely affect its maneuverability. Most also questioned how many buyers really need a big, thirsty truck this size, pointing out most would be better served by a more nimble and fuel-efficient fullsize crossover. Finally, the outdated design of the third-row seat, which must be lifted out and stored to maximize cargo space, also got its share of thumbs-down.
With a new generation based on an updated truck platform still a couple of model years away, the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban gets tweaked navigation and rear-seat entertainment systems. An updated version of GM's electronic stability control also includes trailer sway control and hill-start assist.
The 2012 Chevrolet Suburban is a fullsize SUV with seating for eight passengers, or nine with the optional front bench seat. It's offered in 1500 and heavy-duty 2500 versions, and a choice of three trim levels, including LS, LT and LTZ.
Engine choices start with the 1500 model's standard 5.3-liter V8, which puts out 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. The 2500 model comes with a 6.0-liter V8 that produces 352 hp and 382 lb-ft. A six-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard with both engines. There are also two different four-wheel drive systems — with and without a traditional low-range transfer case — available as options.
The list of standard features on the entry-level LS includes 17-inch alloy wheels, side assist steps, roof rack side rails, three-zone manual climate control, power front seats with a center console, a 50/50-split third-row seat, Bluetooth, rear-seat audio controls with headphone jacks and a CD stereo with satellite radio and eight speakers.
Moving up to the midrange LT gets you fog lights, heated mirrors, ultrasonic rear parking sensors, three-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, power-adjustable pedals, remote start and a premium Bose audio system with a six-disc CD changer.
The top-of-the-line LTZ adds 20-inch polished alloy wheels, a rear air suspension, rain-sensing wipers, a power liftgate, a blind-spot warning system, upgraded leather upholstery, heated/ventilated front seats, driver's seat memory settings, a heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats with power folding, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a navigation system, rearview camera and premium upgraded Bose surround-sound audio system with 10 speakers and digital music storage.
Major options include 22-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, power-retractable running boards, a heavy-duty towing package, an off-road package and a rear-seat video entertainment system with dual screens.
With the 5.3-liter V8 engine, the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban returns EPA fuel economy estimates of 15 mpg city, 21 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined. With the 6.0-liter V8 those numbers drop significantly to 10/16/12 with two-wheel drive, and 10/15/12 with four-wheel drive.
Properly equipped, the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 can tow up to 8,100 pounds, while the 2500 version can tow up to 9,600 pounds.
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