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Still Young at 85 – the 2021 Chevy Suburban

A silver 2021 Chevy Suburban is parked in a modern driveway.

The Chevy Suburban has a long and storied past. It has been in continuous production since it was first introduced in 1935, giving it the distinction of being the longest-running car model in history. The Suburban made the transition from a station wagon to an SUV in the 1970s with its seventh generation, which made it among the first modern SUVs on the market. Since then, the Chevy Suburban has maintained its iconic position at the top of Chevrolet’s SUV lineup. Now, eighty-five years later, the introduction of the 2021 Chevy Suburban marks the beginning of the twelfth generation of the vehicle.

The 2021 Chevy Suburban is scheduled to go on sale in mid-2020, so we do not yet have all the details. This is particularly true when it comes to trim levels and pricing. However, Chevrolet has been extremely open about the many improvements that it has made to the 2021 Chevy Suburban, giving us a very good idea of what the new vehicle will look like.

All-New Platform and Suspension

A white 2021 Chevy Suburban is parked in front of an office building.

The 2021 Chevy Suburban has been completely redesigned from the ground up on an all-new platform. By extending the wheelbase by over four inches, Chevrolet has been able to increase the legroom of both the second and third rows by over two inches without decreasing cargo space. In fact, because the floor of the cargo area was lowered slightly, the cargo space of the 2021 Suburban with all of its seats in place actually increased slightly from 39.3 cu.ft. to 41.5 cu.ft. And because the 2021 Chevy Suburban is overall larger, cargo space with both rows of seats folded is now an absolutely incredible 144.7 cu.ft.––nearly 20% more than in the 2020 Suburban.

The reason Chevrolet was able to lower the cargo floor on the new 2021 Suburban was because it introduced a brand new independent rear suspension. This is a first for the Suburban, which has riding on a solid rear axle for the past eighty-five years. However, in addition to enabling a larger cargo area, the independent suspension will make for a massive increase in both ride quality and general controllability of the vehicle on uneven surfaces. And this already more effective suspension can be further improved on the higher trims of the 2021 Chevy Suburban by selecting the optional magnetic ride control, which can quickly adjust the damping rates of the shock absorbers on the fly to match the road conditions.

Finally, on the top Z71 and High Country trims of the 2021 Chevy Suburban, there will also be an optional air ride suspension system that can adjust ride height by up to four inches. This system will engage automatically at higher speeds to lower the ride height and improve aerodynamics. But it can also be employed manually, either to lower the vehicle by two inches when stopped to make access easier or to raise the vehicle by up to two inches for improved ground clearance while negotiating difficult terrain.

New Diesel Option

The 2021 Chevy Suburban will continue to offer the same two engines as on the 2020 Suburban. These consist of a base 5.3L V8 that generates 355 hp and 383 lb ft of torque, and a larger 6.2L V8 that produces 420 hp and 460 lb ft of torque. Both of these engines are good choices for the Suburban, with even the base 5.3L giving the nearly three-ton vehicle a better power to weight ratio than many much smaller SUVs.

However, for the 2021 Chevy Suburban there will be the new option of a 3.0L turbocharged diesel. This engine will be available on nearly every trim and will produce the same 460 lb ft of torque as the 6.2L V8 option. However, being a diesel, it will offer a much better fuel economy than the gasoline engines. The addition of the turbo-diesel will also make the 2021 Chevy Suburban the only vehicle in its class available in the United States with a diesel option.

No matter which of the three engine options is chosen, the 2021 Chevy Suburban will come with a ten-speed automatic transmission. This is a significant step up from the six-speed automatic in the 2020 Suburban. However, in a perhaps somewhat controversial move, the 2021 Suburban will lose the column-mounted shift lever and replace it with a series of buttons on the dashboard similar to what was used on the 2018 GMC Terrain.

A Digital Suburban

The infotainment system on the 2021 Chevy Suburban has also been entirely redesigned and now offers up to five separate displays. These include the standard 10” color touchscreen in the center console (the largest in its segment), an optional 15” Head Up Display (a smaller HUD will be standard on higher trims), and finally two optional 12.6” displays for passengers in the rear seats.

Although the 15” HUD is perhaps the most interesting of these displays, unfortunately, few details are currently available. But there are some interesting details available about the rear screens. Affixed to the backs of the front seats, these screens are fully independent. However, they are able to share content, both with each other, with other electronic devices, and with the central console screen. This will enable passengers in the rear seat to act as “navigators,” sending points of interest to the driver.

Overall, the 2021 Chevy Suburban will offer five times the processing power of the 2020 Suburban and will be ready to accommodate future technologies through over the air updates. The system is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it includes both Bluetooth as well as USB ports for connectivity. Finally, it will, of course, offer Chevrolet’s standard 4G LTE wireless hotspot. With this amount of connectivity and data in the 2021 Suburban, Chevrolet has also been mindful of the for cybersecurity and has incorporated industry-leading protection to secure the system.

The infotainment display is shown on a tan dashboard on a 2021 Chevy Suburban.

Numerous Distinctive Trims

In order to offer more variety, the 2021 Chevy Suburban will be available in no fewer than six different trims (the 2020 Suburban only offered three). These will begin with the standard LS and LT trims, but will also include the RST, Z71, Premier, and High Country trims, each of which will have its own distinct flavor.

The RST is a sport trim, with unique black exterior highlights, trim-specific seats with contrasting color stitching, and 22” aluminum wheels. Outside of its sport upgrades, it will generally follow the features of the LS trim.

The Z71 trim is off-road oriented. On top of a generally more rugged appearance and previously mentioned air ride suspension, it will incorporate valuable off-road features such as a higher approach angle, a two-speed transfer case, all-terrain tires, a front skid plate, and distinctive red tow hooks.

The Premier trim focuses on equipment and technology. It will include safety features such as blindspot and lane departure warnings, as well as comforts such as built-in navigation, a Bose ten-speaker audio system, a 12-way power driver and passenger seats, a heated steering wheel, and power releases for the back seats.

Finally, the High Country trim will represent the best the 2021 Suburban has to offer. In addition to the full range of standard and optional features, it will stand out both externally and internally with a trim-specific grille, badging, seat embroidery, and color options as well as 22” wheels with chrome inserts.

No matter which trim and options you chose, the 2021 Chevy Suburban will remain the largest and most capable SUV available, representing the start of another unforgettable chapter in the eighty-five year Suburban saga.

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