2023 Chevrolet Suburban Review and Test Drive
Mass and volume meet technology for safety and comfort.
The generously sized Chevrolet Suburban was early to the trend of the large-scale SUV. It's been shuttling people from place to place since 1935.
It's evolved quite a bit since then, however, growing in both size and capabilities along the way. The 2023 Chevrolet Suburban is far more sophisticated and advanced than the basic people hauler the automaker introduced almost 90 years ago. The current iteration is available in eight trim levels, ranging from the base rear-wheel-drive LT starting at just under $60,000 to a High Country model with four-wheel drive that starts at just over $80,000.
The version I tested for this review was a well-equipped High Country with a 6.2-liter V8 and plenty of options, such as the Advanced Technology Package ($2,700). The manufacturer's suggested retail price for my test vehicle was $92,105, including a $1,895 destination charge to ship it from the assembly plant in Arlington, Texas.
Chevrolet provided me with a fully gassed Suburban for a one-week loan, and I put it through its paces in the wilds of upstate New York. I also made an extended road trip down to rural Pennsylvania to see whether this SUV lives up to its heritage as a big-mile hauler of people and cargo.
2023 Chevrolet Suburban: The Design
No matter what color it's painted (in the case of my test vehicle, Midnight Blue Metallic), the Suburban stands out as a vast machine. Measuring about 225 inches stem to stern, 81 inches wide, and upward of 75 inches high, it's a big rig.
Despite using a design that's a few years old, the truck still looks fresh. Its pointed face and squinty headlights look almost stately. The sharp, high crease that runs from those lights straight back to the taillights gives the Suburban a crisp look from the side, with towering rear lights separated by a generously sized chrome strip.
The Suburban's hood tapers down and away, which gives relatively good visibility toward the front of the machine. That's important for anyone concerned about seeing little ones when pulling into the driveway, but you may want to add the 360-degree surround-view camera just the same. It provides a bright and clean image on the infotainment screen and makes parking this behemoth a relative breeze.
Parking yourself inside the Suburban is also easy, regardless of your assigned row. Even getting into the third row is effortless. Just duck between the second-row captain's chairs or fold one of those two seats forward. Even for my 6-foot-2 frame the third-row seat was quite comfortable, with generous legroom, USB-C charging ports, a reading light, and dedicated cooling vents.
That said, the separate heated seats in the second row are a class above. The upgrades continue as you move into the front two seats, which are heated and cooled. The main interface point is a 10.2-inch touchscreen running Android Automotive, but there are many, many buttons scattered about for doing everything from toggling that surround-view camera and adjusting trailer brakes to disabling the rear climate control system.
There are a lot of controls, but this is a lot of SUV. Frankly, there's also a lot of dashboard space to fill up. That dash is covered in various vinyls and rubbers, with a hint of artificial wood and a splash of chrome, too. The resulting busy palette of browns works well, and I found it a welcome change from the typical sea of grays and blacks.
That said, reach down to the lower console or beneath the door cards and it's not difficult to find hard, harsh plastics. Interior luxury, it seems, is only from the waist up.
The Suburban offers a massive 41.5 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the third-row seats. At the touch of a button, however, they power-fold down, raising the space available to 93.8 cu-ft. If you then fold down the second-row seats, you can maximize cargo volume at 144.7 cu-ft.
2023 Chevrolet Suburban: The Technology
The hallmark technology feature of the Suburban High Country is definitely Super Cruise. This hands-off driving service, part of the $2,700 Advanced Technology Package on the High Country, is particularly welcome on a long-range family transporter.
While not approved for use on every road, many highways and well-marked secondary roads are Super Cruise-enabled. This means you can take your hands off the steering wheel while driving and the SUV will automatically maintain speed, steer around corners, and change lanes to pass slower traffic.
In my experience, it works remarkably well. Even in inclement conditions, I found the system reacted in a comfortable, confidence-inspiring way. I used it for hours at a time during my test week, and while it does tend to linger in the passing lane a little too long for my preference, it generally operated without issue.
It is, however, not a self-driving technology. Drivers are still very much responsible. An infrared camera perched on top of the steering column is always watching you, and, should your eyes wander for a bit too long, you'll be prompted first by flashing green lights, then by flashing red lights, and finally by a pulsing seat.
Ignore these warnings and Super Cruise will deactivate itself, leaving you to your own devices. And that'd be a real shame, because, even though you must pay attention, sitting back and relaxing or using both hands to eat a sandwich is a true luxury while driving.
Although the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not performed any crash tests on the 2023 Suburban as of publication, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the Suburban an overall four-star rating. The SUV scores four stars for frontal crash tests, five stars for side-impact protection, and three stars for rollover risk.
The other notable piece of technology in the 2023 Suburban is Google Built-In, which brings the power of Google Assistant to the dashboard. You can find points of interest through a simple voice search, but also fulfill more nuanced requests. If you say, for example, "I'm hungry," the tech is capable of offering suggestions based on your Google Maps reviews and searches.
The Suburban additionally has both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay wireless connectivity, should you want to bring your own media or navigation. All that plays through a 10-speaker Bose sound system.
On the High Country trim, rear-seat passengers get their own integrated 12.6-inch entertainment display. If you pack your PlayStation, you can feed HDMI input directly, listening through the included wireless headsets.
Drivers have a 12.0-inch digital gauge cluster with a wealth of customizable screens and information panels that show everything from current navigation and media information to more esoteric stuff such as transmission temperature. That last one is useful for people taking advantage of the Suburban's whopping 7,900 pounds of towing capacity with the Max Trailering package.
A head-up display augments the digital instrumentation, which is likewise customizable for navigation or driver-assistance information.
2023 Chevrolet Suburban: The Drive
The 2023 Chevy Suburban drives like the giant machine that it is. While the handling is competent and I never had a moment where I needed to make a correction due to poor behavior from suspension or steering, the Suburban is still an SUV that should be piloted with respect.
Parking in narrow driveways and garages is best attempted only after you've spotted your escape route, because turning this thing around takes some finesse and, again, generous use of that surround-view camera. Still, during my testing I managed everything from twisty mountain roads to a particularly tight parking garage without either concern or curbed wheels.
That said, the Suburban is most at home on the highway, where it settles in and cruises calmly and quietly. Despite the box-like shape, it cuts through the wind without complaint, and the suspension does a great job of tackling most situations.
On bigger bumps, you do get a reminder of the Suburban's truck-based foundation, as it can take a moment to settle itself again. But that platform also means you get a proper four-wheel-drive system, including a transfer case with both 4Hi and 4Lo. You can just stick to rear-wheel drive if you prefer, though.
The Suburban you see pictured here has a 6.2-liter V8 under the hood. Those chromed quad exhaust tips at the back emit a pleasantly throaty tone at full acceleration. It's just evocative enough to put a smile on the driver's face without being too loud, and it has enough displacement to shake the truck to the side when it comes to life.
When driven gently, the 10-speed automatic is a delight, easing from one ratio to the next so subtly you'll likely hear more than feel the changes. There is a push-button shifter up high on the dash should you want it, but outside of long descents when trailering, I can't imagine why anyone would bother.
As for fuel economy, it should be no surprise that this roughly 5,700-pound SUV is a bit thirsty. On my testing route, which included a mixture of highway and country lanes, the truck averaged 16.5 mpg, slightly above the official EPA fuel-economy rating of 16 mpg. On extended highway stretches, I saw as high as 24 mpg.
Is the 2023 Chevrolet Suburban a Good SUV?
While there are some SUVs, particularly in the crossover category, that are so adaptable and engaging that you can recommend them regardless of need or family size, the Suburban is not one of those.
This thing is a commitment. It's big and thirsty, two facts it will remind you of every time you maneuver it through a cramped gas station parking lot. But those dimensions come with a lot of advantages. When it comes to interior accommodations, there's very little to complain about, which means keeping your kids happy and occupied for hours at a time or hauling friends or co-workers in remarkable comfort.
And then there's the 7,900 pounds of trailering capacity and that massive cargo space, making the Suburban a legitimate workhorse. For me, though, the presence of Super Cruise and a 28-gallon fuel tank make the Suburban my weapon of choice for a long, highway-heavy trip. Pick a long stretch of road, cue up your favorite audiobook, and watch the miles disappear beneath you.