Ben Parker

History of the Chevrolet Suburban

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Front angled view of a light blue 1964 Chevrolet Suburban Carryall
1964 Chevrolet Suburban Carryall
Photo: Greg Gjerdingen via CC

The Chevrolet Suburban was the world’s first-ever SUV and has become the longest continuously used automotive nameplate. Over its eight-decade-long run, it has proven to be one of the most profitable vehicles for General Motors every year, and the basis for its design was used to create the GMC Yukon XL and Cadillac Escalade ESV.

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The “Suburban” moniker wasn’t a nameplate thought up by Chevy. It was actually a type of vehicle when Chevy first introduced its variation. “Suburban” simply indicated a windowed station wagon and was used by Dodge, GMC, Chevy, Plymouth, Studebaker, and Nash in the early 1930s. Chevy’s first Suburban was actually named the “Suburban Carryall,” and it wouldn’t be until 1988 that GM would be awarded an exclusive trademark for the Suburban name.

The first generation of the Chevy Suburban was introduced in 1933 and was really a station wagon on a half-ton truck frame, but that first-gen model would only run for two years. In 1935, Chevy introduced a more contemporary wagon version of the Suburban (for the time). It wouldn’t be until 1960 and its fifth-generation that the Chevy Suburban would begin to evolve into the SUV we know today. In total, the Chevy Suburban has gone through an impressive 12 generations in its 80-year production run.

In 1992, the Suburban entered its eighth generation and featured a design that is most similar to the SUV we know today. Along with a new exterior, the Suburban also received updated airbags, side mirrors, and transmissions starting in 1994. The ninth generation was introduced in 2000 and in 2003, GM introduced a more modern dashboard in the Suburban with a Radio Data System, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a Bose sound system.

Front angled view of a black 2004 Chevrolet Suburban
2004 Suburban
Photo: Crazytales via CC

The 11th generation of the Suburban began in 2015 and was introduced to the public at the State Fair of Texas. The redesign was one of the most aggressive and brought with it an all-new front fascia with a chrome grille. Chevy also put an emphasis on technology in this generation of the Suburban, including hands-free voice recognition software, USB ports, smartphone integration, and navigation with live traffic.

At the end of 2019, Chevrolet debuted the 12th generation Suburban at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The update would arrive for the 2021 model of the SUV and included features like a new chassis, independent rear suspension, and a longer wheelbase. For 2022, the Suburban’s 6.2-liter V8 engine is more widely available across its trims. Additionally, the expansive 12.3-inch screen is standard on higher trims.