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

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

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

1948 Chevrolet Suburban

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

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

1965 Chevrolet Suburban

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

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

1967 Chevrolet Suburban

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

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

1974 Chevrolet Suburban

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

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

1992 Chevrolet Suburban

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

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

2001 Chevrolet Suburban

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

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

2007 Chevrolet Suburban

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Eleventh Generation (2015- Present): 2015 Chevrolet Suburban

2015 Chevrolet Suburban

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

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 ZR2 is a beefy off-road pickup.

Chevrolet

Chevrolet has added a beefed-up version of its half-ton pickup to the 2022 Silverado lineup that has more capability and comfort for towing and hauling loads, traveling to hard jobs over a variety of road surfaces and a better 4WD game for backcountry travel. I recently joined the Bow-Tie brand for a 200-mile-long evaluation of the first-ever Chevy ZR2. Our day-long test drive took us from the popular desert playground of Palm Springs, located in a verdant valley surrounded by 5,000 to 10,000-foot mountains, to swaths of nearby desert. There, we traveled along a collection of dirt trails in Joshua Tree National Forest and on a 4WD mining trail to abandoned gold mines, with rugged topography that allowed us to try out the truck’s updated hardware that has been engineered to bring an ease of operation and safety for motoring over tough and technical terrain.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2The ZR2 gets several exclusive touches that set it apart from a standard Silverado.Chevrolet

Chevy has made some significant changes to the 2022 Silverado lineup from outside to in and has added Super Cruise, a hands-free drive mode that we were able to try out on local highways in the Palm Springs environs, as we also checked out different trim levels and new technologies. Updates of note are new interior styling, freshened materials and premium trims; a new dashboard and digital displays with a 12.3-inch fully digital gauge cluster and a 13.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system (with Google’s Maps, Assistant and Play Store as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay); and an electronic shifter mounted to the center console. However, our primary task was to focus on the all-new ZR2 that has been set up with a 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8 engine, rides on 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory tires, boasts a new suspension with Multimatic spool-valve dampers, and has electronic-locking front and rear differentials. Elements of the ZR2 and this moniker have been used previously on a special edition of Chevy’s compact truck.

In addition to its functional features, the new Silverado ZR2 stands apart from its stablemates by a collection of unique design cues, including a distinctive front end with a new black hood insert; a large-sized grille with a hollowed-out ‘flow-tie’ emblem for increased air flow and integrated lighting; wheel moldings, ZR2 badges, unique 18-inch wheels and an exclusive Jet Black/Graystone leather-trimmed interior matched with an appealing dark trim. Overall, the truck looks slightly aggressive and fit. The 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 competes with other full-sized desert-running and off-road trucks from Ford and Ram. It’s only offered with a crew-cab body style and either the short- or standard-length cargo boxes with an optional Multi-Flex Tailgate. On sale now, it starts at $67,600 (plus $1,695 destination and delivery)

Chevy’s flagship off-road pickup can tow 8,900 pounds with a conventional trailer hitch and haul up to 1,440 pounds of payload, with more comfortable ride as a result of the spool-valved dampers and specially-tuned springs that bring increased wheel travel when compared to the Trail Boss trim, for instance. This also translates to improved control and greater safety on the road, which we found impressive during our highway driving. The truck has a number of new standard safety features, as well.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2The off-road can tow up to 8,900 pounds and haul up to 1,440 pounds.Chevrolet

Added to Chevy’s in-house testing of the truck in everyday driving and extremes, we learned that the new pickup has been put to the test over the past three years by Chad Hall, who is a highly-respected off-roader and noted desert racer. The production truck and Hall’s prototype race truck share most of the major chassis and drivetrain components, including the robust ladder-type frame; the 420-horsepower V-8 and 10-speed automatic transmission; transfer case; front and rear differentials; plus the front and transfer case skid plates, says Chevy. (See below for more info on Hall’s racing success in this truck.)

We sampled a number of the truck’s technologies during our day-long drive, checking the boxes for both high-speed desert-running and slow-speed rock crawling. Overall, there was good power on tap with plenty of torque to move the half-ton’s 5,800-pound mass, smooth shifts from the 10-speed transmission, good brakes to slow our momentum when needed, and a comfortable ride- even over rugged roads and washboard.

I was excited to experience the ZR2’s talents on some isolated backcountry roads including the Old Dale and Black Eagle Mine Roads 4WD trail, where posted signage warned “Proceed at your own risk: Deep sand and rocks-- stranded drivers have died from heat exposure on park roads.” Truth is, this is just the kind of picturesque and formidable place that 4WD enthusiasts love to explore with a truck that can take you there—and bring you back safely.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2Chev updated the Silverado's interior with better tech and upscale luxury features.Chevrolet

What makes the ZR2 with its rear leaf-spring set-up abona-fide off-roader? In front are tow hooks and a skid plate underneath the high-mounted steel front bumper, with a 31.8-degree approach angle. Other numbers of note are the: 23.4 breakover angle; 23.3 departure angle; 11.2 inches of ground clearance; with 9.84 inches of suspension travel in front and 10.62 inches in the rear. Its width is 81.2 inches, which helps compared to some of its competitors, as it is more “parkable” in many garages and we found it maneuvered well when navigating through narrow sections of rock. Engineers have also repositioned the dual exhaust for added protection.

One of the truck’s top cool new features is the selectable Terrain Mode that allows for one-pedal driving; this cruise-control-like technology is particularly useful for motoring over rocks and up and down steep slopes. To engage, we locked the ZR2 into 4WD Low, set first gear and let the engineering do the driving, using the throttle to increase speed and the brake to decrease speed, when needed. A forward-facing camera provides visibility to the front and sides, as well as to the back which is another great feature for navigating technical terrain.

*Fuel economy estimates sit at 14 mpg in the city, 17 on the highway and 15 combined. the 24-gallon ZR2’s 360-mile range.

**FAST FACT: Chad Hall Racing also helped test the Chevy Colorado ZR2 off-road technologies in competition — and is still going strong with them. The Colorado ZR2 has been racing since 2017 in the Best in The Desert series and is the only truck in its class to have finished every race entered. It has accumulated more than 22,500 miles of racing experience.

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The Denali Ultimate trim is new for 2023.

GMC

The GMC Yukon has always been a luxurious family hauler with beefy capability, but it moved even more upmarket in recent years with added tech and upscale interior materials. GMC just announced an even cushier version of the SUV for the 2023 model year. The Yukon Ultimate Denali gets unique styling touches and upgrades that take the already plush SUV to another level.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate22-inch wheels are standard GMC

The Denali Ultimate gets exclusive upgrades over other trims that include 22-inch wheels and chrome accents outside. The full-size SUV just got a complete redesign for 2021, which brought updated boxy styling, and a sleek look, so there are no additional exterior changes for 2023.

GMC offers three engines in the standard Yukon, but only two make it into the Ultimate. The standard powertrain includes a 6.2-liter V8 that produces 420 horsepower. A 3.0-liter turbodiesel is also available that makes 277 horsepower and a whopping 460 pound-feet of torque. A ten-speed automatic transmission is standard for all engines, and four-wheel drive is available.

Inside, the Ultimate comes with Alpine Umber full-grain leather upholstery with 16-way power front seats and massaging. Trim-exclusive contrast stitching and aluminum trim accent the space, and the top model gets an 18-speaker Bose audio system with stainless steel speaker grilles.

2023 GMC Yukon Denali UltimateGrained leather upholstery and upscale interior finishes are standard. GMC

A 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen comes standard, and offers Google services built in. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard, along with wireless phone charging. A Wi-Fi hotspot and Amazon Alexa functionality are available. GMC also offers Super Cruise hands-free driving system in the Denali Ultimate.

GMC hasn’t detailed pricing for the new SUV yet, but we expect it to start at a premium over the standard Denali, which starts at just over $70,000.

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