$18,298 - $25,081

2012 Chevrolet Suburban Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban was new.


Performance: 7.8

Though the 2012 Chevrolet 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, test drivers say the Suburban is fairly maneuverable for its size, with a very comfortable ride. Reviewers mention that the smaller, 5.3-liter engine isn’t quite as capable as the larger 6.0-liter, though it gets excellent gas mileage for a huge truck. Stepping up to the bigger engine for better performance comes with a significant penalty in fuel economy.

  • "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 its shorter Tahoe counterpart.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "For a vehicle that weighs roughly 3 tons, the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban performs surprisingly well.” -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The half-ton Chevrolet Suburban 1500 comes with a standard 5.3-liter V8 engine that makes 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque, while the Suburban 2500 comes with a 6.0-liter V8 that makes 352 horsepower and 382 pound-feet of torque. According to the EPA, both two- and four-wheel drive Suburban 1500 models get 15/21 mpg city/highway, which is impressive for an SUV this size, especially one with four-wheel drive. However, the two-wheel drive Suburban 2500 gets a dismal 10/16 mpg, and with four-wheel drive, that number drops further, to 10/15 mpg. That’s poor for the class, though the Suburban is bigger and heavier than most other affordable large SUVs.

Test drivers don’t say the Suburban 1500’s smaller V8 is a fine choice for anyone who doesn’t plan to do a lot of towing or hauling, especially since its fuel economy is so much better than 2500’s 6.0-liter engine. However, if you plan to use the Suburban’s hefty towing capacity frequently and you can afford to shell out the extra money at the pump, reviewers say you’ll probably want to step up to the Suburban 2500.

  • "Acceleration with the 5.3-liter V8 is more than adequate at all speeds, aided by the smooth-shifting transmission that kicks down quickly for more power.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "Highs: Terrific powertrain choices.” -- Car and Driver
  • "Acceleration is decent without passengers or cargo. Load it up, however, and the 5.3-liter V8 produces acceleration that's best described as adequate.” -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

A truck-based SUV like the 2012 Chevrolet Suburban will never be agile, but test drivers say that it has a smooth ride for the class, and they appreciate its nicely-tuned steering and brakes. Reviewers are impressed that the Suburban is so easy to drive, given that it's longer than most other SUVs, and say that its brakes feel strong, though they aren’t quite linear.

  • "The Suburban's size and weight also impact its handling -- nimble it is not. The suspension does manage to provide a fairly smooth ride just the same, a quality enhanced by the relative quiet of the passenger cabin.” -- Edmunds
  • "Guiding a Suburban is effortless, the steering nicely weighted and direct by truck standards. At 18.5 feet long and 6.6 wide the Suburban isn't ideal for congested areas but it's quite maneuverable for its size; it needs 43 feet of road to make a U-turn (45.3 for the 2500), but that's just a yard more than some two-seaters and small sedans.” -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Smooth, quiet, and competent for a vehicle in this size class; ponderous, too.” -- Car and Driver
  • "Brakes feel strong, but some testers want better pedal modulation.” -- Consumer Guide


All 2012 Chevrolet Suburban models can tow at least 8,100 pounds, and two-wheel drive Suburban 2500 models can tow as much as 9,600 pounds. That’s more than the Nissan Titan full-size pickup truck’s maximum towing capacity, and a half-ton less than the Ram 1500’s maximum towing capacity.

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