The Chevrolet Suburban has been in continuous production for the longest time of any other vehicle; a tribute to its versatility and reliability. The Chevy Suburban is also one of the biggest full-size SUVs on the market, making it ideal for multiple purposes, not the least of which is living up to its name and providing suburb dwellers an efficient way to get large families and their cargo from place to place with ease.
The Chevrolet Suburban has the distinction of being the vehicle that is the longest continuous model in production. The first Chevrolet Suburban rolled off the line in 1934, and Chevrolet has been making them ever since, with no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Back in the 1930s, Suburban was a common designation that indicated a specific station wagon type vehicle. However, over the decades, other companies that produced Suburbans dropped the name, until by 1988, the title Suburban belonged to GM exclusively, and the Chevrolet Suburban stood alone.
Today's Chevrolet Suburban is a powerful people mover. It's able to seat nine with the optional 40/20/40 front bench seat, has a tremendous amount of cargo space, 137.4 cu. ft. with the seats folded back, and features a powerful V-8 engine.
The Chevrolet Suburban comes as either the 1500 or the heavy duty 2500, for drivers who need to be able to tow or haul serious loads with their Suburban. Both models come in either the base LS model or the LT trim, with an additional trim, the LTZ, available in the 1500.
The 1500 features a 5.3-liter, V-8 engine which generates 320 horsepower along with 335 lb-ft of torque, while the 2500 offers a mighty 6.0-liter V-8 which puts out 352 horses with 335 lb-ft of torque. Both come with rear wheel drive, upgradable to two different types of all-wheel drive, with a six-speed automatic transmission. The 1500 can tow up to 8100 lbs. with a top payload of 1526 lbs., while the 2500 has a maximum towing capacity of 9600 lbs. with a maximum payload of 2450 lbs.
The first generation of the Suburban established the Suburban brand, that of a station wagon body on a commercial truck frame. Even this early model could seat eight, although the first Chevrolet Suburbans were actually for government use, specifically utilized by the National Guard and the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The next model of Suburban was known as the Carryall Suburban, and was characterized by a move to an all metal body and steel frame, as differentiated from the original Suburban which was mostly wood. Like the original model and many current models, this Suburban, though not quite as roomy as today's, could seat eight, and this model featured a rear lift gate for cargo.
The third generation of the Suburban bore many similarities to the second, and was considered sturdy enough to serve in military roles during World War II. This Carryall Suburban came with either rear panel doors or tailgates, and featured a 3.5-liter, six-cylinder engine linked to a three-speed manual transmission.
The Chevrolet Suburban of the 1950s was characterized by the introduction of the automatic transmission, which appeared in the 1954 and 1955 models of fourth generation Suburbans. Suburban owners had the option of the classic three-speed manual transmission, the four-speed manual, or the new four-speed "Hydra-Matic" automatic transmission. There remained the choice between rear panel doors and tailgates, a split bench front seat was featured, and in later models, a new 3.9-liter, six-cylinder engine could be found under the hood.
The fifth generation of the Chevrolet Suburban saw new overall styling, as did all Chevrolet trucks of this period. In addition, fifth generation Suburban owners could enjoy a new V-8 engine, a 4.3-liter V-8 that generated 145 horsepower. Later models also provided four-wheel drive and a 4.6-liter 155 horsepower engine.
The Chevrolet Suburban kept rolling along throughout the 1960s, with two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive models, V-6, and V-8 engine options. This Suburban was the first one to take on a shape that would more closely resemble a modern Sport Utility Vehicle.
The seventh generation of Suburban featured a distinctive three-door exterior, with one door on the driver's side and two on the passenger side. This Suburban featured a station wagon body, and saw the introduction of some modern innovations, including front disc brakes, a tilt steering wheel, and an advanced air conditioning system.
The eighth generation Suburban was the most enduring model, and put the Suburban firmly back on the full-size SUV track. This model was a four-door SUV with two doors on each side and a base 5.7-liter V-8 engine. This model offered an optional third row bench seat to allow room for nine passengers.
The Chevrolet Suburbans that hit the streets starting in 1992 featured five different possible engine types, a 6.5-liter TDI V-8, a 5.7-liter L05 V-8, a 5.7-liter Vortec L31 V-8, a 7.4-liter L19 V-8, and a 7.4-liter Vortec L29 V-8. It came in rear wheel or all-wheel drive and was the first Suburban to feature OnStar starting in 1994.
New developments in the last generation of Suburban before the current model included four-wheel disc brakes, a revised instrument panel, load leveling suspension on some models, and more powerful engine options.