In many parts of the country, vehicles like the Chevrolet Suburban are the working class, the backbone that helps get stuff done. They pull trailers, haul workers and their tools, and generally go about their business without glitz or glamour.
Before the current generation of Suburban (and its GMC equivalent), Chevy's truck-based mega 'ute did just that: utility work. Introduced in 1992 and based on the then-new C/K platform, the previous-gen Suburban rolled on a two-inch-longer wheelbase, yet was 3.2 inches shorter than the box it replaced. The windows, including full roll-down panes in the second row of doors, were larger, too, providing an interior more like a car and less like a plastic cave.
As ever, the Suburban was available in two-wheel drive (C) or four-wheel drive (K). For 1992, the big drivetrain news was revised ABS that worked on all four wheels, even in 4WD. Like the trucks, the 1500 series denoted the half-ton version, while the 2500 was the heavier-duty 3/4-ton iteration.
The gasoline engines were carried over--the diesel was dropped for 1992. The 5.7-liter V-8 produced 210 horsepower in the early years, with a higher-torque, 190-horsepower version fitted to the 2500 models. A 7.4-liter V-8 (the 454), with 230 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque, was available on the 2500. No shift-yourself options on this generation; all models had a four-speed auto.
Diesel fans were happy to see the 6.5-liter turbodiesel return to the line in 1994--and to the 1500 in 1995. This engine produced a mere 190 horsepower but a whopping 385 pound-feet of torque. Those afraid of truck stops and diesel fumes were delighted to see the Vortec V-8s arrive in 1996, with the 5.7 jumping to a heady 250 horsepower and the 7.4-liter bulking up to 290. The 1996-and-later Suburbans may cost more, but the extra power is more than worth the money.
Chevy added a driver's airbag in 1995 (and a passenger bag in 1997), while slightly reworking the interior. At the time, the interiors were functional and sturdy, but they look dated today. Overall, the Suburban is praised for a decent highway ride at the expense of handling.
In our research, we found anecdotal evidence that the Suburban, like a lot of GM vehicles of the period, runs hot and cold in terms of maintenance. Some are fine; others are a lot of trouble. Our best advice is to find the nicest-kept, lowest-mileage Suburban you can and be sure to get the full maintenance history from the owner. Brakes and steering seem to be two trouble spots, but there are reports of engine and transmission troubles, too. See that all the recalls have been addressed and don't buy a junker. That's sound advice for a work-class dog--or any vehicle.
|1992-1999 Chevrolet Suburban|
|Body type|| 4-door SUV|
|Drivetrain|| Front engine, RWD or 4WD|
|Airbags|| Driver, passenger|
|Base engine ||5.7L/210-hp OHV V-8 ('92-'94); 5.7L/200-hp OHV V-8 ('95); 5.7L/250-hp OHV V-8 ('96-on)|
|Opt. engine|| 6.5L/190-hp OHV V-8 turbodiesel; 7.4L/230-hp OHV V-8 ('92-'95); 7.4L/290-hp OHV V-8 ('96-on)|
|Brakes, f/r|| Disc/drum, standard ABS|
|Price range, wlsl/ret (IntelliChoice) || $3229/$5858 ('92 C1500) $10,099/$14,978 ('99 K2500)|
|Recalls|| Too many to list, see intellichoice.com|
|NHTSA frontal impact rating, driver/pass|| Four stars/four stars ('97-on)|