DETROIT — We got the chance to have a short stint with the new 2021 Chevrolet Suburban. But first, a bit of background.
COVID-19 is causing havoc. It had already changed the launch program for the Suburban from a three-day, two-night affair, to a one-day program with a central massing point.
But as cases of the virus ticked up here, they opted for an overnight home-delivery action. In other words, they dropped off the Suburban in the morning and picked it up the next afternoon.
That said, as we took a walkaround of the Suburban, the first thing that caught our eye was the quad-exhaust. We later found that under the hood was a 6.2-liter aluminum block V8 that made 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque.
It had a fuel management system and it was paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Even with all that, the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban had a fuel rating of 14 mpg in the city, 19 mpg on the highway and 16 mpg combined. Fuel efficiency has never been a Suburban strong suit and it still isn’t.
So you can understand our surprise that our test vehicle had a range of about 460 miles when we first got in it. That told us that the fuel tank must have been huge. In the specifications, it was almost 28 gallons.
Like several automakers, for its new Suburban, Chevrolet has shifted to a pushbutton system for selecting gears. Except in this case, it was a pull-button system for drive and reverse and pushbutton for park and neutral. The buttons were in a vertical line on the side of the infotainment screen and they were not haptic. It was much easier to initiate than it sounds here.
We had the High Country, which was the top-of-the-line Suburban. It had heated and cooled seats. And the heat could be generated in just the back or the back and the seat cushion. Below the infotainment screen was a depression where they put the USB jack, the mini USB jack, the 12V plug and the pad for wireless charging.
Those seats were linked to the automatic climate controls. They would turn down the cooling element depending on the temperature inside the car. And in the winter, they would turn down or turn up the heating element depending on the interior temperature.
We opened the sizable center console and were surprised that it didn’t contain any equipment such as jacks or plugs. After a couple of minutes, we realized that Chevrolet had opted to keep all the pertinent equipment and controls in front of the driver where they belonged.
There were buttons and gauges neatly compacted in front of the driver and the infotainment area. Our test vehicle had a panoramic roof with a shade screen. But on a Suburban it extended to the second-row seats, there was plenty of vehicle left behind that.
It had a power liftgate and power running boards that deployed and retracted with the opening or closing of one of the doors. And we appreciated that the buttons for the pushbutton lock and unlock were on all four doors. And we noticed that the Suburban High Country lowered itself when parked for easier exit and implicit in that was that it returned to driving height when put in drive. What’s more, to do that it had an air adaptive suspension.
The head-up display could be configured to show different information. One set was the degree reading. It would tell you what degrees the rear, or the side or the front was from level. It would even show how many degrees the front wheels were turned.
Suburbans are serious motoring through the woods sport utilities. In other words, it is a body on frame construction. They managed to rid it of most of its truck-like ride, but we could still feel the weight and the springback when going over bumps.
And the Suburban’s center of gravity will pull it out of the lane if you try and take curves too fast. Don’t wonder how we know that — it was from experience. In a lot of ways, for newcomers, the Suburban will teach you how it is to be driven.
We didn’t have anything to tow and there was nothing to climb. Most of this state is as flat as a billiard table.
The second-row captain’s seats were comfortable and spacious. There was a climate control for the heated second-row seats. The area had two USB and mini USB jacks. And there was a grounded 120V plug back there too.
The third-row seats that we found were designed to carry three people. There was a bunch of room. There was a USB on the panel on each side. The seat was power-folding and the controls were in the storage area, so was another 120V grounded plug.
There was a nine-way camera that had a front parking view we appreciated, a 10-speaker premium audio system and LED lights all around.
The Suburban is big. It could carry 1,612 lbs. and tow up to 7,900 lbs. The cargo area had 41.4 cubic feet of storage space, that expanded to 93.8 cubic feet with the third row folded and a cavernous 144.7 cubic feet with the second row folded.
Options included adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, high definition surround view, automatic emergency braking, a rear seat media system including rear seat-mounted 12.6-inch color screens and hitch guidance with hitch view.
The power running board was a $1,750 option with perimeter lighting, and the panoramic roof and the air suspension were both $1,500 options. There were all the usual creature comforts, including satellite radio, voice controls, pushbutton start-stop, Bluetooth audio streaming and 22-inch wheels.
Prices start at $51,700. But we had the top-of-the-line High Country trim line. The base price of the 2021 High Country Chevrolet Suburban was $75,300. Add $8,945 worth of options and a freight charge of $1,295 and the sticker came to $85,540.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.