Retrospective

See every Chevrolet Suburban generation: America's original SUV turns 85

America's original SUV is turns 85 years old this year.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

America's original sport utility vehicle is 85. The Chevrolet Suburban has had a run that has lasted since the year Jane Goodall, Giorgio Armani, Hank Aaron, and Don Cherry were born. And it's not done yet.

As Chevrolet readies to unveil the next generation of the Suburban, let's take a look back at the SUV through the years.

First Generation (1935-40): 1935 Chevrolet Suburban

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Suburban Carryall was introduced in 1934 and featured a half-ton chassis. The vehicle's signature two-door body style was produced through 1967. The Suburban got its power through Chevrolet's Stovebolt inline six-cylinder engine that produced 60 horsepower. The model got an upgrade for the 1937 sales year including a new Art Deco-inspired exterior design and a power increase to 79 horsepower.

Second Generation (1941-46): 1943 Chevrolet Suburban

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Most automaker production for civilians halted during World War II. Many trucks, including the Chevy Suburban were produced for military use.

Third Generation (1947-55): 1948 Chevrolet Suburban

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Following World War II, Chevrolet redesigned its truck line and the Suburban was refashioned as a workhorse. Its inline six-cylinder engine got a significant power upgrade, with the ability to now produce 174 pound-feet of torque.

Fourth Generation (1955-59): 1956 Chevrolet Suburban

1956 Chevrolet Suburban

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

For the model's fourth generation, Chevrolet gave the Suburban aggressive new styling. In the 1955 model year, the company added fresh technology and a wraparound windshield. Running boards were eliminated. This Suburban was powered by a V8, the company's legendary Small Block power plant. Four-wheel drive was offered for the first time in 1955.

Fifth Generation (1960-66): 1965 Chevrolet Suburban

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The fifth generation Chevrolet Suburban brought about the C/K designation to denote models with two-wheel drive (C) and four-wheel drive (K). In 1963, a ladder-type frame replaced the X-member frame. Chevrolet introduced air conditioning and rear-area heating to the Suburban for the fist time in 1965.

Sixth Generation (1967-72): 1967 Chevrolet Suburban

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The redesign of Chevy's trucks line brought about the evolution of the Suburban to move from a two-door model to a three-door SUV. There is now a single door on the driver's side and two doors on the passenger side. Ambulance companies found this configuration advantageous and purchased the Suburban in droves.

Seventh Generation (1973-91): 1974 Chevrolet Suburban

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This generation Suburban is the first ever to get a complete redesign. Up until this point, the generations just slowly evolved. Now the model was offered in a four-door body style and its wheelbase grew to 129.5 inches to support more family members and cargo. Buyers were able to enjoy more amenities than ever and by the late 1980s electronically controlled fuel injection and a four-speed overdrive transmission helped with the Suburban's fuel efficiency.

Eighth Generation (1992-99): 1992 Chevrolet Suburban

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This Suburban is a true evolution of the model incorporating the sleekest styling of the model since the 30s. It had flush glass, composite headlights, four-wheel antilock brakes, "shift-on-the-fly" four-wheel drive, and a supple suspension. In 1998, OnStar became available and for the first time all-wheel drive became an option.

Ninth Generation (2000-2006): 2001 Chevrolet Suburban

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The 10th-generation Suburban was launched in 1999 as a 2000 model. It got more modern styling, a fresh interior, and new powertrain options including 5.3-liter and 6.0-liter V8s. For the first time, four-wheel disc brakes, a load-leveling suspension system, and StabiliTrak electronic stability control were offered.

Tenth Generation (2007-2014): 2007 Chevrolet Suburban

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Eleventh Generation (2015- Present): 2015 Chevrolet Suburban

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The modern Chevrolet Suburban is the most plush, capable, and connected ever. It's also more efficient thanks to its available EcoTec3 5.3-liter V8 engine. Standard features include a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.


The 2020 Chevrolet Suburban is on sale now.

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The 2023 Cadillac Lyriq will be produced at GM's Tennessee plant.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

General Motors has already invested heavily into its first electric vehicle plant, the former Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center that is now Factory Zero. Now, the company has announced that its Spring Hill Manufacturing plant will be a second manufacturing base for electric vehicles.

The plant started its life as the home of the Saturn Corporation. It currently builds the Cadillac XT5 and XT6, and GMC Acadia. GM's release stated that the plant will continue to produce the Cadillacs and add the forthcoming 2023 Cadillac Lyriq to its assembly duties. Production of the Acadia will move to DM's Lansing Delta Township Assembly at the cost of $100 million. GM's Lansing plant is a LEED gold-certified automobile plant that currently produces the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse. The Acadias was made there until 2016 so the move is a homecoming of sorts.

2022 Chevrolet Traverse Chevrolet is refreshing the interior and exterior of its Traverse for 2022. Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

As part of the $2 billion investment into Spring Hill,GM will expand the plant's paint and body shop and comprehensively upgrade general assembly including new machines, conveyors, controls, and tooling. Work is slated to begin at the facility immediately.

Included in the $2 billion figure is $32 million to be invested at Flint Assembly (Michigan) for the future production of Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra heavy-duty pickup trucks. An additional $17 million will be invested in the company's Romulus, Michigan propulsion plant to increase the capability to produce GM's 10-speed truck transmission, which is used in a number of key GM products including its trucks and SUVs.

Two smaller amounts, $3.5 million and $750,000 will be invested at Orion Assembly and in Brownstown Charter Township, Michigan, respectively, in relation to the company's production of the Cruise AV test vehicle.

In the last 19 months, GM has committed to invest more than $4.5 billion at three U.S. manufacturing sites to prepare those facilities for EV-related vehicle production.

Separately, GM and LG Chem formed a joint venture – Ultium Cells LLC – and together are investing more than $2.3 billion to build a new battery cell manufacturing plant in Lordstown, Ohio next to Lordstown Motors HQ that will create more than 1,100 new jobs. Construction of the facility is underway.

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Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 11, 2020 in Concord, North Carolina.

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Chase Elliott drives the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Hendrick Motorsports. Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor drive Chevrolet Corvette C8.Rs in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Their wins this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway were, at least in part, to the 3D printing technology that General Motors has been innovating over the last few years.

This season, the Corvette C8.R, IndyCar, NASCAR Camaro and Silverado race teams have accumulated more than 80,000 miles of competition in vehicles built with 3D-printed parts.

"Chevrolet has a long history of technology transfer between our motorsports and production teams, and this is a perfect example of our approach," said Jim Campbell, GM U.S. vice president of Performance and Motorsports. "GM's 3D-printing capability speeds up our learning cycles and, in turn, these racetrack experiences help our additive manufacturing team move one step closer to using 3D-printed parts in production vehicles."

Earlier this year, two Corvette race cars, both C8.Rs, debuted at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, each equipped with 75 3D-printed parts. Among those parts are an oil tank, tank inlet and cap, air conditioning driver cooling box and integrated hydration system, power steering pump bracket and headlight assemblies. Since then, the C8.Rs have accumulated nearly 8,000 miles of competition in seven races.

The Chevrolet IndyCar V6 exhaust system is 3D printed, which has allowed the company to eliminate failure points and increase design freedom while reducing costs. Chevrolet IndyCar engines have run over 60,000 miles since the season kicked off at Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway in June.

The Silverado off-road race truck debuted at the Best in the Desert Method Race Wheels Laughlin Desert Classic in October 2019. The Silverado competes in the 1200 Stock class, which limits changes to suspension, underbody and installation of race-safety equipment. The truck's rear damper shield is made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic protects the rear dampers. It's made in-house by General Motors. Since its debut, the Silverado race truck has accumulated 900 miles of competition in six races.

Chevrolet engineers have optimized the aerodynamic performance of their NASCAR model using full-scale wind-tunnel testing. Oover 500 3D-printed prototype parts were used in testing to develop the ZL1 1LE body, which is new for this year. The Camaro ZL1 1LE is equipped with a 3D-printed gear cooling duct, which has accumulated nearly 18,500 miles of competition in 27 races.

"By utilizing 3D-printed parts, Chevrolet Motorsports is demonstrating the many benefits of additive manufacturing, including manufacturing efficiencies, mass reduction, parts consolidation, creativity and cost savings," said Audley Brown, GM director, Materials Engineering, Additive Design and Manufacturing. "3D-printed parts can offer equal strength and durability to cast or milled components, which is critical for product development and design."

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