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K2xxSteve

Intro: Finally got my new 2018 Suburban Premier 4x4, Pepperdust, Cocoa/Dune, Adaptive Cruise, 3.42 Gears

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Hey all, well I had actually intended to buy a 2017 Suburban, but ended up buying a new house last year. So after a year delay, I finally have a 2018 that I picked up the first week of November, and boy was it tough to find! 

 

Wanted a closeout 2018 Suburban Premier 4x4 with just the 3.42 gears and Adaptive Cruise, and NOT a black interior or exterior. Little did I know that the vast majority of Suburbans in my area would have black interiors the standard 3.08 gearing, and other useless junk that I didn’t want like power running boards, sunroof and DVD stuff, etc., with MSRPs up at $78-80k!!! I finally found TWO identical Burbs in Pepperdust with Cocoa/Dune interiors with just adaptive cruise and 3.42 gears. One had the standard 20” wheels and the other the chrome “SEY” 22” wheels. The one with the 20’s had just been sold, so knowing the potential ride quality and vibration issues with the 22’s, just said to heck with it and went for it and got a great deal, and plus I really loved these particular 22’s. :)

 

Love it so far. 

 

Powertrain: Power is just right with the 5.3L and 3.42 gearing. I don’t find it lacking at all, and it has plenty of giddy up when you really need to get moving. Yeah, the 6-speed gearing is spaced a bit wide. It would be about perfect with at least the 8-speed, but it works just fine. I had a couple of rental Suburbans over the past 2 years, all LT’s with base 3.08 gearing and just found them to be lethargic and you really had to prod them and get kickdowns to get moving. The 3.42’s are just right, and wasn’t going to buy a truck without them.

 

Ride, Handling, & Noise/Vibration: This was really important because of numerous family members that get motion sick. You might think it odd to be going with the Magnetic Ride and 22” wheels, but actually, the Premium Ride suspension with 18” wheels was sooo floaty and had so much body roll and motion that even I got a little motion sick test driving one! My family members would have puked. Lol. So MR was a must for us. Love how there’s virtually no body roll with the MR suspension and how solid it feels. Optimal would have been the MR with 20’s which was perfectly smooth and vibration free, but almost every single Burb Premier in my area has 22” wheel upgrades, so finding one with 20’s and only the specific options I wanted AND with something other than the black interior was asking a bit much. 

 

No, the ride is not glass smooth. You feel bumps in the road, but we’re used to firm but compliant European/BMW suspensions, so feeling bumps in the road is okay. The 285/45R22’s are “sporty” but not exactly low profile, so while you do feel bumps, the adaptive damping of the MR suspension keeps things pretty compliant and comfortable, along with the much longer wheelbase than what we’re used to. 

 

Yes, it has some of the vibration and body resonance issues, but for the most part it’s minor and well damped and not resonant. It’s only a constant and annoying right at 66 mph, so I just avoid going 66. I think we’ll just ride out the Bridgestones or at least get some mileage out of them, but for sure will eventually replace with the Michelins. I don’t think we’ll need to go down to the 20’s. It’s weird that I find the ride perfectly acceptable, but that the aural sensation of the body resonance/vibration is what I find “harsh” at times. The ride itself is surprisingly decent for 22” wheels, so really just the noise issues from the tires causing vibration to the body. Strange beast, but okay with it for now.

 

Overall Drive: I love how this thing drives. I’m not sure what the secret sauce is yet, but every review I’ve read that said the Suburban drives like a much smaller vehicle than it really is is true. I think it’s one part tight steering with a really nice feel and weight and (shock) even a bit of feedback despite being electric, another part the Magnetic Ride suspension and keeping body roll and motions under control, and who knows what else. The tight turning circle for such a massive vehicle is truly impressive. You’d think it’d take a mile to turn this barge around, but no, it’s surprisingly maneuverable in tight parking lots. It definitely gobbles down the miles like crazy on the highway too. It tracks straight ahead with very little correction needed, and I love the HUD and adaptive cruise. Near following distance works great on multi-lane highways, and then far works great for two lane country roads. Takes so much of the fatigue out of long distance driving.

 

Interior: Went with Cocoa/Dune and 2nd row Captain’s Chairs. I think the materials are nice enough, and while there’s definitely some cheap bits, it’s below the waistline and not stuff you’d typically be looking at and having your hands on. The 2nd row seats have plenty of space. I can “sit behind myself” just fine at 6’3”, although the outboard 3rd row seats definitely aren’t for anybody over 6 feet tall. A selling point of the Suburban to me was the fact that you can actually sit 3 adults across the back row. I also looked at the Traverse, but that center 3rd row seat is really only a half seat, and while we might have been able to get away with it now, a few years from now it’d have been an issue. The overall floorpan of the Suburban was perfect for us, with just the right balance of passenger space while still leaving enough cargo room. 

 

Infotainment and Tech stuff: We traded my wife’s 2012 BMW X5 for this, and she swapped cars with me and is driving my 2011 BMW 335i convertible now. I’d been driving that since new (yes you can fit car seats in it no problem! Lol!) but it didn’t even have iDrive in it, so any tech stuff in a car is a big leap for me. I’ve never been able to figure out Fords, but GM’s setup works just fine for me, icons are large, the touchscreen works well, and menus are reasonably simple. Navigation worked as well as Waze over our Thanksgiving road trip, and holy crap, Sirius XM just take my money now!! I thought I had this in my 335i custom order, but apparently missed a tiny little option box and didn't get it on that one, and am not even sure on our traded X5?? Lol

 

Exterior: Pepperdust Metallic wasn’t my first choice of color, but I needed to have the Adaptive Cruise, 3.42 gearing, something other than a black interior, and no other junk I didn’t want before having my first choice of color, and NOT a black exterior either, so no I didn’t get my first color choice, but I think it looks nice when the sun is out. My wife and I are both more partial to some of the blues which look really nice, but we both preferred to get a better deal and the exact options we wanted too, so didn’t do a custom order or anything. I almost bought a Blue Velvet with Mahogany interior, but it had the 3.08 gears, power running boards, and no adaptive cruise. It was an insane deal, but the dealer jacked the price up by $3k as soon as I asked about it and then wouldn’t budge, so I walked. Glad I did. I like what I got much better. I think the Pepperdust will grow on me, and it has decent road contrast too, so I’m happy with it.

 

Overall very pleased with the purchase and the initial quality. Here’s what it was up against. I need to be able to transport 5-7 passengers AND a small 20 lb dog anywhere we might need to go, including international trips to the airport or road trips with all of our luggage. 

 

CROSS SHOP LIST

 

BMW X7 and Mercedes GLS: The issue with these and pretty much any large crossover SUV is that they might seat up to 7 or 8 pretty comfortably, but have basically no cargo space with the 3rd row seats deployed. They’re not much bigger than a Tahoe, and I’m not going to spend $70-80k on one of these just for it to not be big enough, and have to use all sorts of external carriers and junk. Nah. My wife really wanted an X7 and we waited to see the official specs and photos, but sorry, 11 cubic feet of cargo space with the 3rd row deployed isn’t gonna cut it! LOL

 

Minivans: I'm sorry, what? :lol: No can do. Negative ghost rider, the pattern is full. My wife and I haven’t been through all that we’ve been through and all of the crap we’ve had to deal with just to end up driving a (bleeping) minivan. She refused to drive one and I refuse to drive one, so that’s that. I did actually rent a Kia Sedona (or Entourage) on a trip once two years ago, and really liked it! It drove and handled nice, loved the power sliding doors, and had a ton of space. I was like, wow, this is so cool, too bad we'll never have one of these! :lol: That said, the Pacifica looks really nice, and maybe the Odyssey, but I’d rather slit my wrists. Lol. I could do a Pacifica I think, but only if I did a two for one and got a Challenger R/T at the same time. :lol:

 

Ford Expedition Max: It was pretty much down to a Burb or the new Expedition Max. I actually rented a “Chevy Suburban or equivalent” from Enterprise a few months ago when my folks were in town and we needed a bigger vehicle for the weekend, but turned out to be a brand new Expedition Max. The deal breaker with the Expedition Max was totally insufficient cargo space behind the 3rd row. Ford claims only 3 cubic feet less than the Suburban, but that’s total BS. The Burb has MUCH more space, and I even broke out all of our luggage to prove it! The Expedition is proportioned to have a bit more passenger space, and the 2nd row seats do slide fore and aft a bit, but we didn’t find the Suburban passenger space to be lacking at all, and it had much better cargo space, so done deal.

 

Believe me I’m a fan of modern direct injected turbocharged 6-cylinder engines - the straight-6 in my BMW 335i is glorious and the turbodiesel straight-6 in our X5 was brilliant, but Ford’s 3.5L V6 EcoBoost engine didn't win me over at all. It sounded and felt rough, and about as inspiring as a blender. Yeah, the power and torque were there, but the 10-speed was mostly skip shifting and wasn’t going to be all that different than a 6 or 8-speed transmission for the most part. A couple times I felt it clicking through gears sequentially like riding a bicycle, which just felt odd and excessive. Does it really matter if the RPMs are 100 higher or lower? I hope GM’s 10-speed calibration of this transmission is better, but I just didn’t like the Ford. In comparison, GM's good old-fashioned naturally aspirated 5.3L V8 sounds and feels glorious, still has plenty of power, gets perfectly decent fuel mileage for me, and the 6-speed works perfectly fine with the 3.42 gearing. 

 

The Ford also didn’t have their adaptive suspension, which probably explained why the body roll on it was crazy. It felt like it was going to tip over, which is how I knew we definitely needed the MR suspension. I didn't hold that against it, but overall nobody was won over by the Expedition Max, and the lack of cargo space behind the 3rd row was a joke. Only 3 cubic feet less than the Suburban my ***. 

 

I don’t know why Dodge has never made one of these, but I did look at the Dodge Durango. It’s too narrow, and really only 2+2+2 seating, and just wasn’t going to work. It's really a Jeep Grand Cherokee XL, which is fine, but we didn't need a little more space than our X5, we needed A LOT more, and this was just going to come up short.

 

I did also take a serious look at the Chevy Traverse and had actually set on buying it for awhile. It’s a good $20k cheaper than a Suburban comparably equipped, has a workable 3rd row AND decent cargo space. I almost could have gotten away with it, but I knew I’d end up needing an external cargo box in some situations, and then the realization squeezing my 6’3” carcass back there back to back with a Suburban was that that center 3rd row seat is really only a half seat, so I said forget it. I made that mistake before with another vehicle. The color choices were godawful and nonsensical on the Traverse too. I only liked the Black Currant (dark red) color, available only on the Premier trim, but you can only get it with a black interior or this nasty and disgusting grey/tan abomination. You can get a nice Mahogany interior going all the way up to the High Country trim, but then you lose the nice exterior colors?? I could have rocked a Traverse, but the nonsensical exterior and interior color choices turned me off as much as the other things. 

 

Denali XL: Just didn't seem worth the bit of extra money to me. Not going to be towing anything regularly, still have the BMW 335i if I want to go faster, and I'd feel wrong putting regular grade fuel in the 6.2L. I know you can do it (it says so in the book), but that engine with 11.5:1 CR really wants premium. The 5.3 is more regular grade fuel friendly, and that's all this vehicle is going to get.

 

So a Suburban it was! Glad we waited, found exactly what we wanted (minus exterior color not being first choice), checked out ALL of the competition and other options including the BMW X7 which still isn’t even available and is just in pre-order stage right now. Due diligence done, found our Burb and got a great deal, and no regrets. My wife wasn’t exactly happy leaving her “baby” X5 at the dealership and driving away in a Suburban rather than an X7, but that vehicle just wasn’t going to work for us, and $80-90k wasn’t in our budget either. She loved the deal we got on the Burb, and how angry I made all of the sales managers and finance guys. Lol! It’s really grown on her after our 500 mile Thanksgiving road trip. She loves all the space, it really does ride and handle nice for such a large vehicle (she hasn’t driven it yet), there’s the feeling of safety and security in such a behemoth too, and the fuel efficiency is surprisingly good for its size, while still having really nice passing power. Best of all our kids didn’t fight even once, everybody had more than enough room including the dog, and nobody got motion sick. We love this thing. Glad we finally have our “Canyonero”. LOL! 

 

Hope you all enjoyed my little 2 year long on again off again but finally got it done automotive buying adventure! :)

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Edited by S P
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Looks great and be thankful for the 6L80 transmission and not that troublesome 8-speed.

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58 minutes ago, swathdiver said:

Looks great and be thankful for the 6L80 transmission and not that troublesome 8-speed.

Thanks! And hah! I just Googled "gm 8 speed transmission problems" and why am I not surprised?:rolleyes: The more gears and the more complicated a transmission is, the more difficult it is to tune and map correctly for a smooth driving experience. Even German ZF has had issues in their transverse 9-speed unit that seem similar in nature to the GM 8-speed threads I just browsed through, yet ZF's longitudinal 6 and 8-speed transmissions are considered industry standards. I guess everybody can make a "bad" one.

Both of our Bimmers had the ZF 6-speed units and they were gems, and never felt like they needed more gears, although the final drive in our X5 diesel was very short to try and get away with just a single speed transfer case. I've had loaner BMWs with the 8-speed ZF units and they were pretty nice, but seemed pointless and just had a bunch of extra overdrive gears to choose from.:dunno:

Kinda apples to oranges comparing very overpowered sporty vehicles like those and a 6000 lb SUV that merely has "adequate" power. I feel like either it could use a couple more gears, or just six slightly differently spaced gears, but that's more a nit-pick and not a complaint. It's fine. Only a thousand miles so not enough seat time yet, but if the GM 8-speed has had issues, then I'll most definitely be happy with the good ol 6L80E! Lol! :thumbs:

Edited by S P
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Been used to 4-speed transmissions since the middle 1980s so the 6-speed was a nice change.  The steep first gear is to get the load moving and 6th for lightly loaded highway driving.  Towing I keep it in 4th or 5th depending on weight.  Also have 3.42 gears but 45 less horsepower until BlackBear tuned the engine and trans.  Runs so much better after the tune, especially the transmission.

 

We have good access to E85 around here and the cost is low enough to run it and enjoy the free horsepower.  Your motor makes 380 horsepower on E85.  These motors love the stuff, like free race gas.

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Yeah I grew up on 4-speed autos (and a few 5-speed manuals), so 6 still seems like more than enough. One of my all-time favorite powertrain combos was the GM 3800 Series II engine with the 4T65E Hydramatic. When every 4-speed automatic out there felt anemic and like it was missing gears, that combo always felt perfect. Dunno how they did it, but it just worked.

I know the 5.3L itself can run E85 and perk up a bit, but I think this is one of the Suburbans that only has the standard fuel system and not the E85/FlexFuel fuel system, so can't run E85? I think this was a "cost-cutting" measure done 1-2 model years ago, and only the special order fleet or HD Suburbans get the full E85 ready fuel systems? If my Burb can take E85, where should I be looking? I haven't seen anything labeled E85 or FlexFuel on it, but haven't been looking that close, either. There's one station around me that I know of that has E85. Would be nice to try if my Burb would take it, but I don't think it will. 

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I miss those Buicks and the rear wheel drive engines with the turbochargers too!  It took the rest of GM thirty years to catch up.  We still have two minivans with those 4T65Es in them, one still soldiering on and approaching 200K miles.  The other has a busted forward apply band.

 

Well, the pickup trucks don't have it active either.  But the wiring is there as is the software in the computer.  What is needed is the sensor and the hose that the sensor itself plugs into to work again.  If you're capless and did have E85 capability, there would be yellow sticker inside the door or around the hole.  I forgot that they did away with it once the money incentive went away in 2016.  Anyhow, parts are about $100 and it's plug and play.  There was a post on here the other day about it for pickups, an old thread that was revived.

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Yeah it's the capless filler. I checked this morning and nothing is yellow and nothing that says E85 or FlexFuel, but good to know it's apparently easy enough to convert back. I just checked Gasbuddy and the one station I can get to that has E85 somewhat near me is $0.40 more than regular grade fuel, so not worth it.

 

Speaking of classic Buicks, I just happened to spot one of those Grand Nationals the other day. :) 

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Looks great dude!  I have a 2017 Pepperdust Silverado.  And like you, wasn't going in there looking for that color.  But I really like it.  It kinda changes color depending on the weather.  

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Great write up, I too bought on price with my wife's Suburban and ended up with the lighter champagne silver which is about the last color I would have picked. It quickly grew on me and I love it now, it never shows dirt! I end up washing my dark colored truck twice as much as the burb and her's always looks better.

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10 hours ago, cheyenne383 said:

Great write up, I too bought on price with my wife's Suburban and ended up with the lighter champagne silver which is about the last color I would have picked. It quickly grew on me and I love it now, it never shows dirt! I end up washing my dark colored truck twice as much as the burb and her's always looks better.

I had actually intended to buy a 2017 last year - the champagne was actually our first color choice and had intended to custom order that, but then ended up buying a house first. They got rid of that color for 2018. Yeah the Pepperdust is growing on me, and it does hide dirt pretty well. This truck will always be parked outside, so I wanted an overall lighter color to help deflect heat away, and wanted something with a little road contrast (no greys and not black), so the Pepperdust will work for me.

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I don't know if it's the dealers dictating color combination orders or what's going on, but it's seriously tough to find a Cocoa interior. Which is a shame, because it's gorgeous and will age far better than the black. IMO black is fine for a sleek sports car like a 911, but a larger vehicle with a big interior should be light colored. 

Edited by Mandalorian

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Yeah I have no idea. It was hard enough to find Suburbans with non-black interiors, but I was also cross-shopping Denali XLs and found exactly ZERO with non-black interiors. Every single one of them all had black interiors. Same with the Traverse Premier, but at least in that case I can understand why all of them had black interiors, because the only other interior option on that vehicle and trim is that hideous grey/tan two tone abomination. Yeah I'd take black in that case, but that's part of why I lost interest in the Traverse! 

From what I've been told, neutral colors like white or black, including black for interiors, are the easiest for dealerships to sell, so that's what they tend to stock on their lots. 

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A month and change and 1500 or so miles into ownership, no regrets so far and just minor complaints.

 

Not quite enough idle thrust, which can make pulling into a parking spot a bit awkward when it won't keep inching forward without getting on the gas a bit, especially at a high steering angle or on an incline. Just need to get used to it. I also wish there was a hard button to get into the navigation. Combine the separate radio and media buttons into one, and make the other a navigation button. I'm not making the 15 mpg EPA, but that was never going to happen in freezing cold weather with a brand new truck and a 1 mile commute. The "Brickstone" tires are not so bad with the 22" wheels once warmed up or with more of a load on them, but they're not liking the colder weather either and seem to cause more of the cabin vibration issues when very cold. I'm still on the fence about whether to just preemptively replace them with the Michelins, but will just keep driving on them for now. If the vibration progresses to more of an all speeds vibration/resonance, I guess that's what would do it for me. 

 

It's the combination of great steering feel and precision with just the right amount of weighting and effort, along with solid brake feel, and the Mag Ride suspension (for me) that keeps body motion under control that really makes this truck great to drive. I continue to be amazed by just how maneuverable this vehicle is in tight parking lots. You don't even need to be that selective with parking spots. The wide angle and guide lines of the backup camera, along with the auto tilt-down feature that you can enable for both side view mirrors makes backing in easy, and I can park dead center in a spot very easily. It doesn't drive nearly as big as it is. I haven't had my wife drive it yet, but I think she'll be pleasantly surprise when she does. Will have her take it for a whirl over the holidays.

 

No regrets going with the 5.3L and 6-speed with the 3.42 gearing either. There's definitely more than enough power to pass or merge or get around some idiot if you need to even with a load of people and cargo on board, although I don't tow (yet). The 6L80E shift smoothly, although it "granny shifts and doesn't double-clutch like it should" especially on the 2-3. I just watched Fast and the Furious with my 9 year old so am remembering all the old lines now! :lol: It's fine, though. It has more than enough power if/when you need it, but not so much to encourage you to tap into it. It's a nice truck to just cruise in, which is kinda what I wanted.

Overall very pleased with the purchase and initial quality of everything. Still in a state of shock at needing anything this big, but an active family that routinely hauls 5-7 pax and a dog places will do that. At least we can all go where we go in comfort now, without all being crammed in or having to take two cars everywhere. Never thought I'd need anything this big, but life happens and I'm glad GM makes such great driving trucks. :)

 

 

Edited by S P
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Really handsome truck. I had the same rims on my last Denali. The 3:42's are what make that truck. It's just too heavy for 3.08's. I couldn't find one down here with 3:42's. I went with the Denali XL which has the 8 speed/ 3.23's and it's pretty awesome. But it did cost more! The cocoa/dark atmosphere is one of the nicest color combos, really sets the truck off. Every time someone gets in my truck they comment how nice it is. Keep those rims sealed and waxed and don't let the salt sit in the crevice it will pit. Also when I changed out of BridgSTONES to Michelin Defenders...it transformed my truck. Great combo, best of luck

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