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Trail’s End: August 1992, Behind The Wheel Of A Big-Block Suburban

Posted in Features on December 13, 2016 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Four Wheeler Archives

In the Aug. ’92 issue of Four Wheeler, we wrote about our first test of the then-all-new ’92 Chevy Suburban K2500 3/4-ton. The eighth-generation ’92 model year was another big year for the Suburban, and the GMT400-based Suburban was completely redesigned.

One of the biggest changes to the Suburban was the switch from a front leaf-spring suspension with solid axle to torsion-bar IFS. We wrote, “For on-road and moderately difficult off-road operation, the new IFS is a vast improvement over the old design. The torsion bar springs are much more finely tuned than the leaf springs and give a much smoother ride. Also, the twin A-arms control wheel camber precisely throughout the range of suspension travel. This, along with improvements in the steering system, makes the K-trucks in general and this Suburban in particular among the best handling fullsize light trucks on the road. Steering is accurate, road holding is superb, and ride quality is smooth and confident,” we wrote. We did lament that IFS parts like “CV joints, halfshafts, and protective rubber boots” were more vulnerable to “sharp rocks, wooden spears, and adhesive mud common to heavy-duty four-wheeling.”

We called the optional 454ci 7.4L V-8 “primo,” and it produced 230 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque. Compare that output to the ’16 Suburban’s 325ci 5.3L V-8, which produces 355hp and 383 lb-of torque (although the torque is made at a much higher rpm in the 5.3L). We noted that the big-block 454 made 20 more horses and 85 lb-ft more torque than the 5.7L V-8 in the ’92 Suburban K1500 we tested. “These bigger power numbers feel even bigger in real life. The enormous Suburban accelerates smartly. In our seat-of-the-pants testing, it seemed faster than the K1500 Suburban, but our dragstrip testing shows not. This truck roared through the quarter-mile, and we do mean roared, in 20.25 seconds at 70 mph. This was a little less than a full second slower than the “little” K1500 Suburban,” we said.

The ’92 Suburban also came with a new chain-drive NP241 T-case. About that we wrote, “Although not as stout as the old NP205 gear-driven cases, the 241 does offer true shift-on-the-fly operation. And, should you for some unimaginable reason want to flat-tow your Suburban, the 241 offers the benefits of a Neutral position, unlike push-button electric shift ’cases. The transfer case lever’s straight-line engagement pattern is our current preference, and as a staff we unanimously prefer a shift lever, any lever, to buttons.” Not much has changed in that regard, and even all these years later, we still love the lever.

Accolades were showered on the Suburban’s improved braking and NVH, but we griped about the view-blocking vertically split rear doors, the need for firmer shocks, and the lack of CD player.

We closed the story by saying, “The Suburban, at over $30,000, is not cheap. But you get the most truck for the money of just about anything on the road. The K1500 Suburban we tested had a similar trim level and cost $1,826 less. With a big-block and 4.10:1 gears, this Suburban is getting about 10 mpg. The K1500 got about 12 mpg. Our choice? The K2500 Suburban with big-block, big brakes, big ticket.”

It seems almost everyone we talk 4WD with has a Suburban story. As of this writing ,the Suburban is in its eleventh generation since its inception in 1935. That’s big history for a big vehicle.

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