The Suburban is turning 85 years-old. Check out GM’s salute.
The Chevy Suburban is older than the Hoover Dam. GM says that it is also the longest-running nameplate in continuous production. “While the world has changed significantly, the Suburban is just as relevant today as it was in 1935. Suburban created the sport utility vehicle – offering unprecedented combination of passenger comfort and cargo capacity,” said Paul Edwards, Chevrolet marketing vice president. “That has earned Suburban the trust of a wide range of people – from families to law enforcement, and even a starring-role in pop culture.”
The Suburban has grown a bit and added some grunt. The first ’35 Suburban could seat eight. Its removable seats offered up a large 115.1 cubic foot cargo area when the second-row seats were folded and third-row seats removed. The engine offered was an inline-six-cylinder engine that produced 60 horsepower.
Today’s 2020 Suburban seats up to nine and offers up to 121.7 cubic feet (3,446 L) of maximum cargo space when second and third-row seats are folded down. The optional 6.2L V-8 produces 420 horsepower – a whopping seven times the power of the ’35 model.
“The name Suburban is so widely recognized that at various times over history it was used by a few vehicle manufacturers,” said Leslie Kendall, curator at the Petersen Automotive Museum. “But the Chevrolet Suburban – the forerunner of the modern SUV – has stood the test of time. From family road-trips to dignitary protection, to TV and film and everywhere in-between, over the last 85 years the Suburban has become a fixture of Americana.”
Here is a look back at the milestones of the Suburban through the decades GM put together:
Generation 1 – 1935-40
The Suburban Carryall is introduced on a half-ton chassis, with a signature two-door body style that would be produced through 1967. Power came from Chevrolet’s tough “Stovebolt” inline-six that produced 60 horsepower. In 1937, new Art Deco exterior design cues were added and power was increased to 79 horsepower.
Generation 2 – 1941-46
Production of almost all civilian vehicles halted during America’s involvement in World War II, although many Chevy trucks – including the Suburban’s body style – were produced for military duty.
Generation 3 – 1947-55
Representing the first significant redesign of Chevrolet’s truck line since before the war, the Suburban was welcomed by professionals in need of an all-new workhorse. Torque from the inline-six engine was 174 lb-ft at only 1,200 rpm, creating excellent towing capability.
Generation 4 – 1955-59
Revolutionary new styling and technology is introduced midway through the 1955 model year. Known as the “second series” design, it featured a wraparound windshield and the elimination of running boards – the body now flush with the fenders. The biggest addition was Chevrolet’s first V-8, the legendary Small Block. In 1957, factory-installed four-wheel drive is offered for the first time, with the famous NAPCO-supplied “Powr-Pak” system.
Generation 5 – 1960-66
All-new styling greeted the 1960s and Chevrolet instituted the C/K designations to denote models with 2WD (C) and 4WD (K). In 1963, a ladder-type, channel-section frame replaced the X-member, box-section frames used in previous years. With a focus on passenger comfort in 1965, factory-installed air conditioning and a rear-area heater are offered for the first time.
Generation 6 – 1967-72
A redesign of Chevy’s half-ton trucks is introduced, and for the first time since its debut, the Suburban now had three doors – with a single door on the driver’s side and front and rear doors on the passenger side. This new configuration, with easier access to the cargo area, was popular with ambulance companies.
Generation 7 – 1973-91
The Suburban is completely redesigned and for the first time, offered a conventional four-door body style. The wheelbase was stretched to 129.5 inches with an increased focus on interior comfort and amenities that brought more personal-use customers to Suburban. By the late-1980s, electronically controlled fuel injection and a four-speed overdrive transmission brought greater efficiency.
Generation 8 – 1992-1999
An all-new Suburban featured sleek styling with flush glass and composite headlamps. Other updates included four-wheel antilock brakes, Insta-Trac “shift-on-the-fly” on four-wheel-drive models and a suspension system designed to provide a more carlike ride. In 1998, available OnStar and the full-time AutoTrac all-wheel-drive system are added. In Australia, right-hand-drive versions of the Suburban are offered through GM’s Holden brand.
Generation 9 – 2000-2006
Launched in 1999 as a 2000 model, the 10th-generation Suburban brought new styling, new interiors and new powertrains. The engines included the Vortec 5.3L and 6.0L V-8s from the same Gen III Small Block family in the Corvette. New features included for first time are four-wheel disc brakes, a load-leveling suspension system and StabiliTrak electronic stability control.
Generation 10 – 2007-14
The Suburban features a wind tunnel-shaped exterior and elimination of traditional chrome front and rear bumpers. More efficient, comfortable and capable than ever, the Suburban continued to offer customers uncompromising capability and versatility. Safety and driver assistance feature updates included electronic trailer sway control, Hill Start Assist and available Side Blind Zone Alert.
Generation 11 – 2015-Present
Completely redesigned to be more functional and refined, while offering more features and a greater range of advanced technologies, the current Suburban is also more efficient, thanks to a range of enhancements that include a more aerodynamic design and a new, direct-injected EcoTec3 5.3L engine. Improved aerodynamics also contributes to a quieter interior. A bevy of standard customer-focused technology features like 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot (requires available data plan), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also added.
Which Generations did you own?