In the 19th century, huge elephants would kneel to aces up Indian maharajas. These royals would ride aloft their steeds in gem-flecked carriages alleged howdahs, busy with gemstones.
In 21st-century America we don’t accept royalty. But we accept howdah-carrying elephants. They’re alleged Chevy Suburbans.
I best up Mrs. Payne for a night out this summer in Chevy’s all-new 2021 model. Aback we accustomed at the restaurant, the albatross — er, Suburban — alone 2 inches to acquiesce for easier departure for my 5’5” wife.
Thank an all-new air suspension, allotment of a absolute accommodate of one of the bowtie brand’s best admired vehicles.
The driver’s-side division birr animate of the 2021 Chevy Suburban has assorted buttons to ascendancy 4-wheel drive, electric outlets, lights and more.
The Suburban is the continued adaptation of the Tahoe, the Brobdingnagian mega-ute based on the aforementioned barter belvedere as the mega-selling Chevy Silverado. Sister cast GMC has its own adaptation alleged the Yukon, while crosstown battling Ford puts its Expedition aloft the Ford F-150 platform. Like the full-size auto market, truck-based SUVs are bedeviled by Detroit automakers with Suburbans, Tahoes and Expeditions cardinal the alley like, well, elephants.
But for 2021, the Tahoe and Suburban accept taken cogent accomplish to abstracted themselves from their barter kin. Silverado and Suburban badges accept consistently appropriate a aberration amid agronomical crammer and ancestors transport, but now it’s added than aloof a name, third-row seats and a hatch.
For the aboriginal time ever, Tahoe and Suburban get added flush absolute rear abeyance and different interiors. I’ve yet to drive the Tahoe, so I’ll focus on my Suburban Z71 tester.
I am already a fan of the new Silverado, the lightest barter in chic acknowledgment to a 400-pound diet over the aftermost bearing due to acute multi-metal anatomy engineering. Suburban inherits this chassis, again adds car-like absolute rear suspension, authoritative it a joy to drive.
The additional row of the 2021 Chevy Suburban gets a deluxe appearance with the sunroof.
The smoother alley ride over Metro Detroit’s ox-cart anchorage is acceptable — but the SUV’s ablaze weight (Suburban saves 300 pounds over the aftermost gen) still agency it’s fun to drive on-road. Pity my poor third-row passengers.
This affair is an ocean-liner, continued addition four inches over its predecessor. Second-row seats not alone accretion 10 inches of legroom, but the captain’s chairs slide, acceptance for accessible third-row bench access. The rug rats are waaay aback in drillmaster now.
Curled up in their seats, headphones on, arena their video games, they deserve a admonishing aback dad decides to accept fun in the twisties. Might I advance an intercom arrangement like an ocean liner?
Attention passengers: the captain is about to accept a little fun.
An intercom arrangement (I’m not kidding, absolutely — the Kia Telluride has one and it’s a lot beneath than the Suburban) is one of the few things missing from this abstruse bout de force. The added is adaptive cruise control, which GM has been awfully bashful in alms in cartage from the Chevy Traverse to the Corvette. ACC comes accepted on my wife’s $21,395, all-wheel-drive Subaru Impreza hatchback, for advantage sake. And on one of my admired SUVs, the $23,000 Mazda CX-30.
Flatten the seats, and the burden breadth of the 2021 Chevy Suburban will absorb a baby grocery store.
For a long-distance cruiser like the Suburban (starting at $57,795), adaptive cruise should be accepted as well. Suburban doesn’t alike action it until the Aerial Country trim, starting at the baronial sum of $77,890.
Or my $78,925 (cough) Z71 tester.
My contempo $72,075 Corvette C8 ride didn’t accept adaptive cruise, either. The acceptable account is there are added Suburban appearance that agreeably reminded me of King ‘Vette — and the Cadillac CT4-V.
That’s because the autogenous has been assiduously overhauled compared to Chevy and GMC Sierra pickups I’ve afresh inhabited. The closing acquainted anachronous with, for example, axis shifters and low infotainment screens. Maybe the Ford Expedition’s beautiful new autogenous got GM’s attention.
The Suburban brings a avant-garde cyberbanking “trigger shifter” (a dash-mounted adaptation agnate to the Corvette). The book awning is army aerial on the birr — see Caddy and ’Vette — authoritative for bigger afterimage so I could accumulate my eyes on the alley while accessing Chevy’s archetypal blast of tech offerings, from Sirius XM to Wi-Fi hot atom to nav system.
Forget the nav system, actually, as Suburban offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard. My wife still swears by them as the best map advice in autodom. “Go to Clarkson Union” I barked and Android Auto had it on our book awning in a jiffy.
Intimidated? The advanced end of the 2021 Chevy Suburban Z71 is blacked out with alarming grille and drift bowl beneath for off-road exploration.
Stomp the gas pedal and V-8 Corvette tunes ample the cabin. My eight-holer was of the smaller, 5.3-liter variety. Those absent the Full-Monty, 6.2-liter V-8 ‘Vette acquaintance will accept to jump (as with adaptive cruise) a rung to the Aerial Country model.
There are a lot of rungs. Six in all as the Suburban calendar looks a bit like the endless, eight-trim Silverado — article for everyone. I like my Z71, acknowledge you actual much.
The Z71 gives the big bus a rugged, off-road bluster with blacked-out grille and nameplates complimenting its adamant flanks and LED active lights. Royal elephants would annihilate for this affectionate of bling.
With a college access angle, drift plate, accepted four-wheel-drive, all-terrain tires, two-speed alteration case, Hill Descent Ascendancy and red tow hooks, the Z71 albatross could credibly do abutment agent assignment if you capital to tow your ATVs to a Michigan off-road park.
Such assignment is usually the area of pickups, but they cease to be commuter affable aft of their aggregation cab. Stretching about 19 anxiety from axis to stern, the Suburban is aloof shy of the 19.2-foot continued Silverado with 5.8-foot bed — which agency 41.5 cubic anxiety of accumulator in aback for a Conestoga wagon with 550 afar of range.
The 2021 Chevy Suburban appearance affluence of technology, including smartphone compatibility, button manual and book awning with 4G Wi-Fi.
And it’s covered like a Conestoga.
Inside are options abounding — befitting a Chevy that can calmly amount out in the adjacency of a Mercedes GLE SUV. My admired appearance accommodate the second-row captain’s chairs, which, like minivan seats, can abrade into an ottoman. I admired sitting in the third row, propping up my admeasurement 15 anxiety on the second-row stool and accepting laptop assignment done while on the road.
And the centermost animate island? It moves. Push an aerial button and the accomplished animate slides backward, absolute a hidden drawer beneath — acceptable for stowing backing or aloof accustomed items like charging cords for the two USB jacks in the aback seat.
It’s one adorned carriage. Maybe they should accept alleged it the Chevy Howdah.
All-new for 2021, the Chevy Suburban is the best adaptation of its twin, the three-row Tahoe. Built on the Silverado barter chassis, the ancestors Suburban has a added aesthetic autogenous and ride than the pickup.
2021 Chevrolet Suburban
Vehicle type: Front-engine, rear- and four-wheel drive, six-or-seven-passenger SUV
Price: $52,995, including $1,295 destination fee ($78,925 4WD Z71 trim as tested)
Powerplant: 5.3-liter V-8, 6.2-liter V-8
Power: 355 horsepower, 383 pound-feet of torque (5.3-liter); 420 horsepower, 460 pound-feet of torque (6.2-liter)
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Performance: 0-60 mph, NA; towing, 8,100 pounds (as tested)
Weight: 5,978 pounds (as tested)
Fuel economy: EPA, 15 mpg city/19 highway/17 accumulated (5.3-liter as tested)
Highs: Improved interior; comfortable third row
Lows: Gets pricey; accepted adaptive cruise control, please
Overall: 4 stars