CHEVROLET FORUM SPECIAL REPORT: Chevy’s venerable family hauler is as good as advertised — even when hauling a heavy trailer full of decoy geese through the woods.
For years, the Chevrolet Suburban has been the go-to vehicle for weekend hunting trips, family road trips and all things in between. With several changes and improvements, the 2016 Chevy Suburban continues to be the vehicle of choice for these excursions.
The 2016 Chevrolet Suburban continues a long heritage, with the model dating back some 80 years. It is the oldest continuously-used nameplate in the automotive world, and the reasons are simple. As times have changed and smaller vehicles with more fuel efficiency have come and gone, transporting people and getting outdoors hasn’t changed. For these activities, a Suburban is an obvious choice.
I had access to one for a week, and with its massive cargo space, towing capability and comfort, I gathered my friends and decided to test it out like owners would do – hunting. Our prey was the loud-honking Canadian geese, and we towed a trailer full of decoys to our private hunting ground.
Opening the back hatch, I used the power-folding seat buttons to fold down the third row (they aren’t removable anymore). This gave us a considerable amount of room for our shotguns and stalks to add to our blinds. In fact, we kept throwing more and more items into the cargo area without fear of running short of room.
Next, I connected the trailer. Hooking up the 16-foot trailer was a bit of an adventure unto itself, with the cotter pin of the trailer pin causing an issue. My standard-sized cotter pin was too long and hit metal behind the receiver. After wrangling with it for a while, I switched to a round-locking pin that didn’t interfere with that metal.
With the enclosed trailer hooked up, the 5.3L V8 barely noticed the load behind it, and its 383 lb-ft of torque was more than enough to get us moving. This power is great for towing and hauling with the full-size SUV, and the fuel economy isn’t too shabby either for the 5,896 lbs. vehicle. The EPA ratings are 15/22/18 city/highway/combined, and I saw our fuel numbers hovering around 16 mpg with the trailer full of decoys.
Heading down the highway en route to our hunting spot, the 355 horsepower put out by the EcoTec3 engine allowed me to easily cruise with enough power to pass any slow traffic. And the tow/haul mode handled the load with ease.
Another factor affecting the ride quality was the Magnetic Ride Control on my test LTZ model. This feature incorporates dual-electric coils to help smooth the changing road conditions. In my case, the county roads are in dire need of repaving and the Magnetic Ride Control helped me feel like I was driving on freshly paved roads instead. On a long trip, this could make a big difference when it comes to driver fatigue.
I also enjoyed the new head-up display available on LTZ models. This is a handy feature long seen on luxury models and it really helps reduce distracted driving. Also, unlike some luxury models, the simplistic design of the system works well for the Suburban. Some systems just don’t work as well.
Hitting the farmer’s field to unload our decoys around our pit, I carefully navigated the crop rows. If I was driving just the Suburban without anything in tow, my concerns would have been lessened considerably. It is not a rock crawler by any means. But it is far more capable off-road than people give it credit for.
After a long day in the pit, I climbed back into the Suburban. With its keyless entry and push-button start, it was nice to just hop in and go without having to remember where we left the keys.
Leaving the trailer behind with my hunting buddies, I headed for home. The standard front heated bucket seats loosened up cold and stiff muscles. And the various driver’s aids, like lane-keeping assist, kept me safely on the road.
Overall, it is easy to see why the Suburban has been a top choice for sportsman and families. The capability and cargo space does come with a price though. My test model with all the bells and whistles rang up to $77,270. Even though that price is similar to some luxury models, it did give me pause. This is not a buying decision to take lightly. However, if you have a large family or love going hunting with your friends, it isn’t a tough choice. You need a full-size SUV like the 2016 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ.