Will General Motors bring back the long-absent Suburban HD?
For most of the past decade, there has been no heavy-duty option for SUV buyers who want a Suburban’s seating capacity with the towing grunt of a proper work truck. With the end of the GMT-900 generation (2007–14), GM retired its 2500-series of Suburbans and Yukons, and the monolithic eight-lug SUVs burbled off into the sunset without a replacement from the GMT-K2 (2014–20) trucks. Sure, you could special-order the fleet-exclusive “3500HD” K2-generation SUV, but it was out of reach for most of the public.
We’ve gotten a hint from GM that a heavy-duty Suburban could make a comeback.
During a recent announcement about GM’s Infantry Squad Vehicle (a tactical vehicle for the U.S. Army based on the Chevy Colorado), the General’s VP of global product programs, Tim Herrick, had a possible Freudian slip when he suggested how easy it’d be to produce a new 8-lug ’Burb.
“I have full-size truck stuff in my blood, right? So I understand what it takes to make a light duty truck, a heavy duty truck, an SUV, make them all together architecturally work, and then expand that architecture, whether it’s putting batteries in, or different engines and the like. Expanding the architecture architecturally would be great,” said Herrick. “And with that, then you bring, maybe a heavy-duty Suburban.”
The news would be welcome for more than just fleet buyers. The workhorse Suburban has a strong following among those who want the towing and payload capabilities from the improved frame and suspension of a heavy-duty pickup with the interior capacity of a full-size SUV. Think of a large family pulling a vacation trailer (either a boat or a camper, typically) who needs to haul six people, their luggage, a trailer, and whatever’s in (or on) it.
In practice, a Suburban is the same basic footprint as a single-cab, long-bed pickup. With the seats folded down, the Suburban is essentially a pickup with a camper shell. When you don’t need to haul plywood—or a thousand pounds of shop manuals, as a purely random example—it can comfortably carry six to eight people when it needs to be more civilized. Suburbans are beloved both by overlanders and budget-racers for their camping-worthy interior space; many serve as mobile homes for adventurers or race drivers who still demand a healthy towing capacity or maximum payload.
As the owner of a ’96 Suburban 2500, I’ll admit I’m biased: While some vehicles specialize in towing or stuff-hauling or people-carrying, none roll all those skills into one do-it-all package quite like the traditional, heavy-duty Suburban.
GM Authority projects that there will be a new Suburban HD model by 2022, but GM hasn’t committed to anything. From where we stand, GM should green-light the project; the cult surrounding classic 2500 ’Burbs argues that there’s a place for a work-ready, full-size SUV. Plus, with the inline-six arriving under Suburban hoods in 2021, there’s finally a diesel engine in the lineup, an option missing ever since GM retired the 6.5-liter turbo-diesel, along with the GMT400 Suburbans, in 1999. The combination of low-end torque and good fuel manners could serve the dual-action nature of a new Suburban HD well. Even the current direct-injected 6.2-liter V-8s sip on fuel thanks to 10-speed transmissions.
Bring back the heavy-duty ’Burb, GM.