History of the Chevy Suburban

Debuting in the 1930s as a two-door Carryall, Chevrolet’s Suburban has changed drastically over the years. During the time of its debut, Chevy dealers were highlighting the fact that their eight-passenger vehicle (which cost about $675 – what would be about $12,000 today) was moving from the typical wood body frame to an all-steel wagon body.


Although during this period “suburban” was not just one vehicle. It was the way to categorize windowed body automobiles that were similar to the station wagon. GMC, Dodge, DeSoto, Plymouth, Nash and Studebaker all had suburbans and soon Chevy did too—in 1933. It wasn’t until 1978 that General Motors received the exclusive “Suburban” trademark (10 years after Plymouth discontinued its Suburban station wagon, according to GM).


A Look at the Suburban Timeline


With 12 generations and over 80 years of transformation, the Suburban is one of the longest running nameplates in the auto industry.


Generation 1 (1935-1936) – Chevy’s original Suburban, the Carryall, featured a half-ton truck frame with an all-steel wagon body mounted on a commercial chassis, powered by the 60-horsepower “Stovebolt” engine. The two-door vehicle seated up to eight and had a cargo area that was 75 inches long by 77 inches high.


Generation 2 (1937-1940) – For the second generation, this passenger- and cargo-focused vehicle received some Art Deco styling and an upgrade to the six-cylinder engine that produced 79 horsepower.


Generation 3 (1941-1946) – Produced and used as military transport vehicles, the new set of SUVs were equipped with a 216-cubic-inch 6-cylinder engine in Chevys and a 228-cubic-inch 6-cylinder engine in GMC vehicles.


Generation 4 (1947-1955) – Big changes came in the fourth gen (specifically in 1953) for Suburbans, which were based on the Chevrolet Advance Design series of pickups. The front seat was split and now featured two driver-side seats and one passenger-side seat that slid forward to give access to rows behind them. Under the hood, customers would find the Hydra-Matic four-speed automatic transmission with the 216-cubic-inch 3.5-liter Stovebolt OHC I6 engine or the 235-cubic-inch 3.9-liter Thriftmaster I6.


Generation 5 (1955-1959) – Wraparound windshields entered new Suburban models, hoods flattened, the front fenders were redesigned, four-wheel drive was offered for the first time and engine options included the 265-cubic-inch 4.3-liter V8, which produced 145 horses, or the 283-cubic-inch 4.6-liter V8 engine, which produced 155 hp.


Generation 6: (1960-1966) – New 60s touches stylized this generation of SUVs, which were offered as two-wheel (designated C) and four-wheel drive models (designated K). Conservative hood styling continued and a new independent suspension entered the vehicle, which was powered by the I-6 or the small-block V8 engine (with a 5.0-liter GMC V6 available on GMC models) paired with a three- or four-speed manual transmission.


Generation 7: (1967-1972) – Highlights include the three-door layout, which placed two doors (a front and rear) on the passenger side and a single door for the driver, and a new three quarter ton version. Engine options during this gen included the CI inline 6, CI small block V-8 and the CI big block V-8.


Generation 8: (1973-1991) – The four-door Suburban made its debut in 1973 with a wide range of features, including a baggage rack, steps to access the vehicle, front and rear air conditioning units and a heater under the third row of seats.


Generation 9: (1992-1999) – As the Suburban streamlined, Chevy offered several engine choices: small-block 5.7-liter V8, the big-block 7.4-liter V8 and the optional 6.5-liter Turbo diesel. This generation took a huge step towards the modern day Suburban; in 1992 the SUV received new GMT 400 platform styling.


Generation 10: (2000-2006) – A new century with new engines— Vortec 5300 5.3-liter and Vortec 6000 6.0-liter V8—and curvaceous styling. It was in 2000 that GMC’s Suburban was renamed the Yukon XL and the title Suburban became exclusive to Chevy.


Generation 11: (2007-2014) – Chevy says goodbye to chrome bumpers, hello to more aerodynamic styling and celebrates 75 years with the Anniversary Diamond Edition. The redesign of the Suburban in 2007 uses the GMT900 platform.


Generation 12: (2015-Present) – More focus on aerodynamic design and a new direct-injected EcoTec3 5.3-liter engine are just the beginning of the amazing features in the current generation of Suburbans.


We could list off all the incredible features of the 2018 Suburban or you could come see and test drive these vehicles for yourself at our Chevy dealership, Ray Chevrolet. Don’t search for “car dealerships near me,” call us today at 847-587-3300!