Been MIA for a while, since I was home on vacation and being a huge fan of full-size GM SUVs, this is what I got to drive.
The variant I had was a 2021 Suburban Z71 with the 5.3L V8 and 10L80 transmission. This is a very smooth drivetrain, but for better (long term ownership) or for worse (gas mileage), AFM was decontented. I assume this was mostly due to the chip shortage. This vehicle was also equipped with auto start/stop, but I disabled that on every drive because I honestly find it annoying.
At first glance, there's no denying this truck has a presence. I really like the blackout treatment and overall looks/design. The front had LED headlamps and DRLs, but I found it strange that they had done away with foglamps. Regardless, it had a nice, aggressive look to it up front – especially with the blacked-out grille and silver skid plate on the bottom. On the rear, unlike the GMC Yukon XL, the Suburban had regular incandescent bulbs except for the parking lights. Considering the taillight problems that plagued the previous generation of the Yukon, I see this as a plus.
Being a Z71 model, this truck came with air suspension on all four corners, and I thought that was just the coolest thing ever. When you’re stepping out of the truck, it would lower itself and you’d hear the air being let out of the airbags just like a semi. Put it in off road mode, and you instantly get a 2” lift! The downside is, there were no running boards so getting in and out for some people could be a challenge, unless you install your own.
All the panels fit nicely together, there are no big gaps between any of the panels and the paint quality was really good; that clearcoat was shiny! Opening and closing the doors, it really felt more like you were shutting a vault; something you don’t really find on many vehicles these days. It felt solid. The rear quarter panels felt a bit “plasticy” and sounded pretty hallow when you tap, but that’s pretty common on almost any car these days.
On the inside, GM has really upped their game where quality of materials is concerned. The scuff plates, front seat surround trim and the lower part of the center console are still pretty hard plastic, so that’s still there, but the rest of the interior had soft touch materials and there were zero rattles or any other annoyances. I do wish they retained the cupholders in the doors, like the outgoing model had, but you gain some, you lose some.
While I don’t mind push button start, I wasn’t exactly a fan of the push button transmission or electronic parking brake. Give me a good old fashioned column shifter and foot operated parking brake any day of the week, but I can understand them trying to stay abreast of the competition. Power adjustable pedals seems to be another feature that was decontented.
As far as driving is concerned, the truck did feel a bit on the heavy side with a 3.42 rear axle ratio and P275/60R20 Goodyear off road tires running 38 PSI. That said, the ride was smooth as butter, quiet and it rode like a Suburban should. Despite feeling a bit on the heavy side, power was definitely there when you needed it, especially driving up mountains.
Of course, with the independent rear suspension setup, handling is significantly better than the outgoing model. I’m not a fan mostly due to all the extra parts involved that will wear out and require replacement down the line, but there is no denying its improvement over the solid rear axle that used to be there. Then again, my own experiences with IRS is based on my ’03 Ford Expedition that’s now long gone. Hopefully, design wise, this is more rugged and durable than that was.
Driving at night was a breeze; automatic high beams and rain-sensing wipers come in pretty handy. The LED headlights really light up the road, so much of the time, high beams weren’t even necessary.
This vehicle also had the optional gauge cluster with the screen in the middle, which was also a nice touch with a lot of information right at your fingertips: engine oil life, air filter life, front/rear brake pad life, ATF temperature, MPG info and following distance in seconds to name a few.
The infotainment system was awesome, as was the sound system. I had zero issues with Android Auto for both navigation and music. Wireless charging was also another neat feature. The truck also had lane keep assist, and park assist with a bird’s eye view that made maneuvering a breeze even in the tightest of spots.
Verdict: I was considering one once I move back to the States, and that certainly hasn’t changed. This truck certainly did not disappoint, and gets two thumbs up from me; although I’ll probably opt for the diesel variant, if not the 6.2L with RWD only.