Suburban prototypes hint at frownier, more luxe 2024 refresh

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KGP Photography

Chevrolet hasn’t been resting on its laurels in the 2020s. It followed the mid-engine Corvette with a Z06 in short order, and just last week announced a slew of new models, hybrid and not, plus an in-the-future EV variant. The story is similar with the Bowtie’s full-size family-haulers, as this camouflaged Suburban prototype proves.

When we spotted this mule lurking about, three possibilities sprung to mind. We’ll walk through them, from least to most probable.

Possibility One and the least likely: Chevrolet’s bringing back the Suburban HD. GM’s VP of global product programs, Tim Herrick, has already hinted that such a beefed-up ‘Burb is under consideration. In October 2020, he suggested that the existing, X-gen architecture could easily accommodate a heavy-duty, towing-focused variant. He stopped short of confirming that such a product is actually on Chevrolet’s development schedule, however, and the only supporting evidence in these spy shots is an argument from absence: Those glamorous High Country wheels could hide the eight-lug hubs typically indicative of Chevy’s brawniest haulers. Using an existing set of wheels that could hide such a change, instead of papering over a new wheel, which would draw our attention to the hubs, would indeed be a sneaky move from Chevy. Verdict? We’re hopeful, but not expectant that this is an HD model.

2024 Chevrolet Suburban Prototype rear three-quarter
KGP Photography

Possibility Number Two, slightly more likely: This is a new range-topping trim level that will slot above the High Country. Just two days ago, GM announced a Denali Ultimate trim for the Yukon to one-up the Denali model, traditionally the most luxurious spec on any GMC product. This Ultimatized Denali Yukon follows in the steps of the Sierra in courting deep-pocketed customers who like their luxury large and American, served on a ladder frame with a heavy helping of posh. The profit potential of a higher-zoot Suburban can’t be lost on Chevrolet, whose highest-spec ‘Burb encroaches on Yukon price territory. Why not just leave the $70K price bracket to GMC? Suburbans appeal to the stealth-wealth crowd, those who prefer the blue-collar associations of the Bowtie to the luxury-focused GMC moniker.

Our basis for this new trim level theory: The interior shots gleaned from this prototype, which show a new steering wheel and a larger screen with a lower hood over the instrument panel. The Suburban is conspicuously absent from the list of 2022 model-year vehicles to offer Super Cruise, GM’s hands-free driver-assist system. (The addition of Super Cruise is a hallmark of the recently announced Yukon Denali Ultimate.) The lack of the instrument-cluster bulge also suggests that the Suburban is taking a widescreen page from the Escalade. Probability of this new range-topping trim? We’ll go with medium.

cadillac escalade interior front
Cameron Neveu

The third—and most likely—explanation for the new wheel and larger screen is that Chevy is leaving the High Country as the, ah, highest altitude trim and simply giving the 2024 Suburban some luxe updates.

Though the two-tiered headlights in that camo’d front end strongly evoke those of the Silverado HD, the resemblance is likely aesthetic only. A light-touch update (rather than the re-introduction of an HD ‘Burb) would be entirely appropriate for the 2024 Suburban given the significant mechanical changes Chevrolet made for the thirteenth generation, which debuted just three years ago. Not only did the 2021 model ride on a wheelbase 4.1 inches longer than that of its predecessor, it ditched a solid rear axle for a multi-link independent setup. Both changes greatly increased cabin room, and the latter also refined the ride—especially when paired with the optional air suspension. There simply aren’t a lot of problems to fix on the 13th-gen Suburban, and it’s not yet showing its age.

Our money’s on a frowny-faced update to the Suburban, with no HD or Denali Ultimate rival on the immediate horizon. Neither is out of the question, though. Which option would you most crave, dear reader? Let us know below.

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