$14,837 - $22,094

2011 Chevrolet Suburban Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Chevrolet Suburban was new.


Performance: 8.4

Though the Suburban's size can be intimidating, reviewers say that it is relatively easy to live with around town. While any large SUV requires extra care to drive, the Suburban is outfitted with a range of powerful engines, as well as a suspension that helps make it easier to handle than other large SUVs.

  • "[Ride quality is] among the best of any SUV, crossover or traditional truck-type. Suburban exhibits car-like comfort over bumps and isn't prone to floaty motions like their shorter counterparts." -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

The half-ton Chevrolet Suburban comes with a standard 5.3-liter V8 engine. On the three-quarter ton model, a 6.0-liter V8 is standard. The 5.3-liter makes 320 horsepower with 335 pound-feet of torque. The 6.0-liter makes 352 horsepower with 382 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.

All engines come with GM's Active Fuel Management System, intended to improve the Suburban's fuel economy. The system works by switching automatically from eight to four cylinders when full power is not needed, and improves fuel economy. Most reviewers seemed impressed, especially given that the system doesn't sacrifice power.

The 5.3-liter V8 gets an estimated 15 miles per gallon in the city and 21 on the highway, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The 6.0-liter engine gets an EPA estimated 10 miles per gallon in the city and 16 (when equipped with four-wheel drive that number drops to 15) on the highway. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard.

  • "Suburban is fairly quick for its size and can get to 60 mph in less than 9 seconds." -- Edmunds
  • "The 5.3-liter V8 is a model of refinement." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The 320-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8 engine in the Suburban I tested was really a pleasure . . . It moved the SUV with authority and made it easy to merge into highway traffic or pass in the left lane." -- Cars.com
  • "If anyone says he can tell when four of those eight cylinders deactivate, he's lying."-- AutoWeek

Handling and Braking

The 2011 Chevrolet Suburban has a smooth ride and handling that's comfortable and sure-footed. Reviewers are impressed that the Suburban is so easy to drive, given that it's longer than most other SUVs.

  • "Among the best of any SUV, crossover or traditional truck-type. Suburban exhibits car-like comfort over bumps and isn't prone to floaty motions like their shorter counterparts." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Smooth ride and enough ground clearance for dirt roads; ponderous but competent dynamics." -- Car and Driver
  • "But despite its size, the Suburban boasts decent road manners," -- Edmunds
  • The Suburban was "composed when traversing the various washboard surfaces we came across in our Death Valley-adjacent photo locale."-- Motor Trend


Few reviewers have tested the Suburban as a tow vehicle, but on paper it looks like it’s up to most towing jobs. A Chevrolet Suburban 1500 with two-wheel drive can tow up to 8,100 pounds, while a 2500 with two-wheel drive can tow up to 9,600 pounds. Getting four-wheel drive for either model diminishes towing capacity by 100 pounds for 1500 models and 200 pounds for 2500 models. No matter the configuration, the Suburban is up to pulling most personal-use horse and boat trailers. You can get a heavy-duty trailering package as an option on 1500 models (it's standard on 2500 models). The package adds oil cooling, transmission cooling and an integrated trailer brake control.

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