2008 Chevrolet Suburban Performance
This performance review was written when the 2008 Chevrolet Suburban was new.
The 2008 Suburban gets a very good performance score, despite its size.says that the "Suburban is not for everybody. But those who need its extra size will be rewarded with a slick-looking, well-furnished, easy-driving truck that's both powerful and -- by the standards of its class -- easy on fuel."
Acceleration and Power
The half-ton Chevrolet Suburban comes with a standard V8 5.3-liter engine and has a V8 6.0-liter option. On the three-quarter ton model, the 6.0 is standard. The 5.3-liter makes 320 horsepower with 340 pound-feet of torque. The 6-liter makes 366 horsepower with 380 pound-feet of torque. Most reviews find the 5.3 adequate and say the bigger engine might appeal to those who need the power for heavy-duty towing. Edmunds explains that "the 5.3-liter V8 Suburban doesn't feel nearly so quick when carrying a load of passengers."
With either engine, reviewers are impressed by the Chevrolet Suburban's initial responsiveness. The car, according to several tests, went from 0 to 60 in less than 10 seconds. Thefound, "The Suburban responds quickly and eagerly" and says the engine "delivers a fair amount of punch for a three-ton truck."
One of the major improvements in the Suburban over the previous generation is the Active Fuel Management System, intended to improve the notoriously gas-guzzling truck's fuel economy. The system works by switching automatically from eight to four cylinders when full power is not needed, and improves fuel economy by about 10 percent. Most reviewers seemed impressed, especially given that the system doesn't sacrifice power. As one reviewer at AutoWeek put it, "If anyone says he can tell when four of those eight cylinders deactivate, he's lying." The 5.3 liter 2WD V8 gets an estimated 14 miles per gallon in the city and 20 on the highway, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The 5.3 liter 4WD "E85 FlexFuel Engine," which is available as an option on the 2WD, gets an EPA estimated 14 miles per gallon in the city and 19 on the highway, but can operate with either unleaded gas or a cleaner-burning though less efficient ethanol/gasoline mix. The 6.0 liter 2WD and 4WD get an EPA estimated 12 miles per gallon in the city and 17 on the highway.
Most reviews say the four-speed transmission is smooth, but more gears, like competitors have, would be welcome.. "Unfortunately the 5.3 liter and 6.0 liter engines remain saddled with the carryover four-speed automatic transmission," says Forbes. Three-Quarter Ton models, however, feature a six-speed automatic transmission.
Handling and Braking
The 2008 Chevrolet Suburban draws nearly universal praise for its improved steering and handling capabilities. Consumer Guide goes so far as to say that ride quality is one of "the best or any SUV, crossover or traditional truck-type." New Car Test Drive adds, "this Suburban rides and handles much sweeter than any before it: less undulation and more precision." says the Suburban "drives small, nimbler and easier to handle in tight spots than its size suggests. It might not be your first choice for the shopping mall lot on Christmas Eve, but if you can live with the length, it's not intimidating."
Though the steering is more nimble than other large SUVs, but the Autobytel found "the passing power lacking" though praised the "wonderful American V8 burble" and credited the Chevrolet Suburban saying, "when stuffed with a full load of human cargo, the Suburban doesn't behave much differently than when unloaded."reviewer points out, "Handling is decent though no vehicle 222.4 inches long, almost 80 inches wide and almost 5,800 pounds is going to turn with the grace of a ballerina." They add, "Body lean is pronounced, especially at speed, and backing off the gas when the pavement veers sharply either way is as wise as stepping on the pedal when approaching a steep incline." On the road, most testers found the Suburban functional if not much fun. "Hit cruise control on an open stretch of freeway, and it's almost like riding in a living room to the next town," says the
Also improved is a new suspension system. A reviewer from Forbes summed up the majority opinion, saying "The Chevrolet Suburban rides on an all-new chassis with a fully boxed frame that's stiffer than before for added refinement with reduced noise, vibration and harshness. A wider track and a lowered center of gravity contribute to enhanced on-road stability, while a revised suspension provides a compliant ride and more-precise handling qualities." The top-of-the-line LTZ trim style comes with Autoride suspension system with wheel sensors that monitor road surface to reduce bumpiness.
Most reviewers note the improvement in braking. New Car Test Drive reflects the majority opinion: "The new brakes with vented rotors are bigger (13 inches in front and 13.5 inches rear) and the dual piston calipers are stiffer. It's an important safety consideration, especially when towing. The brakes worked well and were easy to modulate, something lacking in the Suburbans of two generations back."
The Chevrolet Suburban has an optional off-road package that includes a specialized suspension, larger fog lights, a chrome grill, 18-inch wheels and larger recovery hook openings. Though Motor Trend did not test the off-road package, it was nevertheless impressed with the Suburban's capabilities once it left the pavement saying the truck felt "composed when traversing the various washboard surfaces we came across in our Death Valley-adjacent photo locale."
All Wheel Drive
Most reviewers liked the four-wheel drive system. Motor Trend says "Electronically activated on-the-fly transitions from 2WD/4WD and 4Hi/4Lo are just a convenient wrist-twist away in both." Consumer Guide liked that it "can be left engaged on dry pavement and includes low-range gearing."
However, the Suburban given to the reviewer athad a glitch in the four-wheel drive. "A 'service 4x4' warning light called attention to a failure in the 5.3-liter test truck. GM examined it and blamed a component called a front axle sensor and actuator. It apparently was shifting the front axle into its 4WD setting occasionally and unbidden. That created extra drag and friction that hurt fuel economy and agility." The reviewer asked a company spokesman about the problem and he said it was very rare.
The two-wheel drive half-ton model of 2008 Chevrolet Suburban can tow up to 8,100 pounds, the smallest capacity of Suburban trims. The four-wheel drive three-quarter ton truck, which has the maximum capacity, hauls up to 9,700 pounds behind it.
Most reviewers praise the Suburban's towing capabilities and said its towing capacity might be reason enough to buy the truck. "There are some people who need a big, powerful vehicle that can carry eight adults and tow a four-ton trailer," says the, reflecting the view of many reviewers.
Besides its size and power, other features of the Suburban make it prime for heavy-duty towing. All transmissions, says New Car Test Drive, "have a Tow/Haul mode, which reduces shifting and makes the shifts quicker, so the transmission doesn't work so hard when pulling a big load."
1500 Half-Ton Model
The 5.3-liter half-ton Chevrolet Suburban comes standard with an eight-cylinder engine, rear wheel drive, four-speed transmission and an electronic stability control system. Consider adding the four-wheel drive if you drive in winter weather or are concerned about slippery conditions. Available in three trim models, the top-of-the-line model also comes with Autoride suspension.
2500 Three-Quarter Ton Model
The 6.0-liter three-quarter ton Chevrolet Suburban comes with an eight-cylinder engine, four speed transmission, rear-wheel drive and a trailering suspension system. Four-wheel drive adds an extra cost to the base price.