Leave it to the 2023 Chevrolet Suburban, the industry’s first sport utility vehicle, to sport the segment’s most advanced driving technology.
You wouldn’t expect it, given that the Arlington-assembled Chevrolet Suburban is the oldest nameplate in continuous production, having been built since 1935. But with the addition of Super Cruise, the 2023 Chevrolet Suburban remains cutting edge.
Much like Tesla’s vastly overhyped Autopilot, GM’s Super Cruise is a semi-autonomous driving system, one described by the Society of Automotive Engineers as a Level 2 system. SAE rates autonomous driving systems from 0, for a car without autonomous assistance, to 5, for a car that drives autonomously without steering wheel or pedals.
For now, fully enabled self-driving cars, those rated Level 3, are not legal to be driven on U.S. roads. Regardless of nameplate, marketing or bloviating CEO, all current semi-autonomous driving systems are Level 2. Don’t let Tesla fanboys tell you otherwise.
And as for Super Cruise, it’s state-of-the-art, and its availability in Chevrolet is welcome. That said, it requires buying one of the Suburban’s top two trim levels, either Premier or High Country, to get it.
The quality of Super Cruise’s performance is impressive. Only the company’s GPS and cameras have been used to map the highways where Super Cruise is enabled. This conservative approach to its development helps its comportment, which is impressive given that the Chevrolet Suburban is the size of your topiary-obsessed neighbor’s garden shed.
Super Cruise is activated once your cruise control is set. When the vehicle indicates Super Cruise is available, you engage it. Then, sit back, take your hands off the wheel and your feet off the pedals. But keep them close by, as the car monitors you.
Like adaptive cruise control, Super Cruise maintains a pre-set distance set from vehicles in front of it, a distance set by the driver.
Certainly, other vehicles have similar semi-autonomous ability, but Super Cruise’s lane-centering software expertly keeps the Chevy’s considerable bulk in its lane, tracking true through corners without the side-to-side sway typical of its competitors, which bounce from one side of the lane to the other.
And changing lanes is equally stress-free. Merely activate the turn signal, and the Suburban changes lanes on its own. But if you’re cruising and traffic slows below your pre-set speed limit, Super Cruise will check to see if the left lane next to it is clear. If it is, it activates its turn signal, changes lanes, and turns off its signal without driver intervention.
Trust me, this is a wow.
Yet Super Cruise knows its limits. When it reaches a place where mapping isn’t available, the vehicle makes it known in a timely manner allowing for the driver to take over.
Beyond its top-notch tech, it’s a Suburban.
Styled much like a postmodern shipping container, there’s more than 41 cubic feet of cargo space, even with all three rows in use.
The test vehicle, being a top-of-the-line High Country model, had many of the interior amenities you could find on its GMC and Cadillac cousins, including a decently large infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as back seat entertainment systems.
Admittedly, the finishes aren’t as fancy, but the Chevrolet undercuts them on price, although, at more than $91,000 as tested, this is far from a popularly priced vehicle. Still, even the cheapest Suburban, one without Super Cruise, costs a substantial $57,200 before options.
But that’s the freight for this incredibly capable vehicle, with body-on-frame construction, rear- or all-wheel drive, and a choice of three engines.
Standard power comes from a 5.3-liter overhead-valve V-8 rated at 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. A 6.2-liter overhead-valve V-8 is rated at 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque is optional, as is a turbocharged diesel inline six-cylinder engine rated at 270 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission is standard. Towing is rated at 7,800 to 8,300 pounds.
Driving the 2023 Chevrolet Suburban proves cumbersome in any parking lot smaller than Buc-ee’s.
The Suburban’s size calls for care, and it can be intimidating. Yet in the finest Detroit tradition, it proves powerful and sizable enough to haul everything in quiet and comfort. But at this price, it costs as much as some lower-trim Cadillac Escalades, with a ride that matches them, thanks to the available air and adaptive suspensions.
But being a Suburban, not an Escalade, few will notice it.
If you’re in the witness protection program, don’t live in Miami Beach or Los Angeles, or just need the space without affectation, you’ll appreciate the 2023 Chevrolet Suburban’s down-low vibe. It’s the handsome, dignified, quietly useful antithesis of our narcissist TikTok/Instagram/Facebook age.
The 2023 Chevrolet Suburban remains useful, not affected, something its owners truly appreciate.
Larry Printz, Tribune News Service (TNS). Printz is an automotive journalist based in South Florida. His email address is [email protected].
2023 Chevrolet Suburban | At a glance
Base price: $57,200-$80,400
Engine: 6.2-lliter overhead-valve V8
Horsepower/Torque: 420/460 pound-feet
EPA fuel economy (city/highway): 14/18 mpg
Observed fuel economy: 14 mpg
Length/Width/Height: 225.7/81.1/75.7 inches
Ground clearance: 8 to 10 inches
Payload: 1,612 pounds
Cargo capacity: 41.5-144.7 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 7,800 to 8,300 pounds