Chevrolet Suburban Through The Years

Chevrolet Suburban Overview 

2019 marks 85 years for the Chevrolet Suburban. While its played the roles of commercial and military vehicle, it’s long been the benchmark for the family-friendly SUV. It’s also one of the largest SUVs available today, with a dominating street presence. Let’s take a look at the evolution of the legendary Chevrolet Suburban through the years. 

1st  Generation Chevrolet Suburban (1933 – 1940) 

1935 Suburban
1935 Suburban @MillerChev
  • The very first Suburban debuted in 1933. This wood bodied station wagon was built on a truck frame and designed to carry up to eight passengers. The first Suburban was intended for use by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Guard. Such vehicles were known as “depot hacks” as they were often used in train depots and shipyards for shuttling passengers and luggage. 
  • In 1935, Chevrolet released the first proper, all-metal bodied “Caryall Suburban”. 
  • At the time, many automotive manufacturers offered a “suburban” or a station wagon built on a truck frame. GMC, Nash, Studebaker and many others all offered “suburbans”.  
  • Early Suburbans featured only two doors and would so up into the 1960s. 
  • 1937 saw a revision of exterior design. The Suburban got a more streamlined look befitting a consumer vehicle.  
  • The Suburban had the option of either a tailgate or panel doors in back. 

2nd Generation Chevrolet Suburban (1941 – 1946) 

1941 Suburban
1941 Suburban @WW2Explorer
  • Between 1943 and 1945, no civilian Suburbans were built because of World War II. Suburban’s built during those years were used for military transport.  
  • The 2nd generation Chevy Suburban was equipped with either a 216-cu. in., while the GMC version received a 228-cu. in. straight 6-cylinder engine. Both slightly larger than the prior generation’s 206-cu. in. engine. 

3rd Generation Chevrolet Suburban (1947 – 1955) 

1952 Suburban
1952 Suburban @USClassicAutos
  • In 1947, the Suburban received an updated body style, featuring a broader stance, wider grille, and roomier passenger compartment. 
  • It’s this generation, based around the “Advanced Design” trucks, that inspired the retro stylings of the Chevy HHR 
  • Torque now reached 174-lbs. ft. at just 1200 rpms. 
  • In 1950, barndoors started being offered for the rear hatch. 
  • In 1954, Chevy added the Hyrda-Matic 4-speed automatic transmission to the Suburban. The first automatic available on the SUV. 

4th Generation Chevrolet Suburban (1955 – 1959) 

1957 Suburban
1957 Suburban on
  • The 4th generation of the Suburban brought significant changes inside and out. The exterior got a major overhaul with a flatter hood, trapezoidal grille, wrap-around windshield, and front fenders that were flush with the body. 
  • Chevy added a V8 alongside the I-6 as a new engine option. 
  • In 1957, Chevrolet added 4WD as an option. 

5th Generation Chevrolet Suburban (1960 – 1966) 

1964 Suburban
1964 Suburban @Bringatrailer
  • In 1960, the Suburban received another cosmetic makeover with more conservative, blocky hood and body styling and adding oval ports over the grille. 
  • This generation saw the addition of front independent suspension. 
  • With 1960 also came the adoption of the C/K designation for Chevy vehicles with the “C” denoting 2WD and the “K” denoting 4WD. 
  • The 1960-61 versions featured a snappy looking “wrap-around” windshield. 
  • In 1962, Chevy cleaned up the frontal styling, eliminating the oval ports adding dual headlights and flattening the windshield.  
  • Later in the 5th generation, Chevrolet offered air conditioning and expanded the engine offerings for larger V8 and inline 6 engines. 

6th Generation Chevrolet Suburban (1967 – 1972) 

1970 Suburban
1970 Suburban @OldCarsWeekly
  • The Suburban, along with all of Chevy’s half-ton trucks, received another big overhaul. A new three door configuration was introduced, putting one door on the driver’s side and two on the passenger side. It also got a full foot longer than the prior generation. 
  • In 1970, Chevy offered an eight-track player and stereo radio. 
  • 1971 saw the addition of front disc brakes.  

7th Generation Chevrolet Suburban (1973 – 1991) 

1986 Suburban
1986 Suburban on
  • Now a proper 4-door SUV, the 1973 Chevy Suburban came standard with a 250cu. in. inline-6, with options for a 307 or 350 cu. in. small block V8s and a 454 CID big block V8. 
  • The 7th generation featured comfort features like front & rear AC and a 3rd seat heater 
  • Mid-generation, GM switched from carburetors to electronic fuel injection, using a system called throttle body injection. 
  • The engines kept getting bigger with the 400cu. in. and 454cu. in. V8s and the 6.2L diesel V8, available starting in 1982. 
  • In 1981, The Suburban lost around 300 lbs. and featured a restyled grille with square headlights. This is what many of us see when we think of old-school Suburbans.  

8th Generation Chevrolet Suburban (1992 – 1999) 

1999 Suburban
1999 Suburban on
  • The 1992 Chevrolet Suburban featured rounded, modern styling cues and more prominent fenders lending a wider, beefier look. 
  • The base engine across the lineup was a 5.7L V8, but you could go all the way up to the 7.4L in the 2500 series.   
  • Anti-lock brakes were added while the manual transmission was dropped entirely. 
  • In 1996, GM introduced Vortec engines, all producing more power for their trucks and SUVs.  
  • In 1998, the then current 4WD was supplemented with a new AWD offering.  

9th Generation Chevrolet Suburban (2000 – 2006) 

2003 Suburban
2003 Suburban on
  • Another generation, another exterior refinement. Lines got more rounded still, especially up front around the headlamps and bumper.  
  • An 8.1L Vortec 8100 V8 engine was added to the lineup in 2001. 
  • In 2003, the Chevrolet Suburban received comfort features such as tri-zone climate control, available second-row captain’s chairs, DVD entertainment system, and XM radio. 
  • 2004 prioritized safety, with a passenger “buckle up” warning and Hydroboost brakes in half ton models. 
  • Touchscreen navigation became optional in 2005. 
  • Sadly, the classic, rear barndoors were discontinued late in the 9th generation. 

10th Generation Chevrolet Suburban (2007 – 2014) 

2007 Suburban
2007 Suburban on
  • The 10th generation Suburban features a more aerodynamic design. 
  • Questionably, the front grill moves away from chrome in favor of body matching fascia.  
  • Features like blind spot warnings, heated steering wheel, Bluetooth phone connectivity, heated and cooled seats, rear-view camera, and rear parking assist became available throughout the 10th generation. 

11th Generation Chevrolet Suburban (2015 – 2019) 

2015 Suburban
2015 Suburban on
  • 2015 presented an updated look including a return to a chrome-heavy grille, along with more boxy, sharper edged styling. 
  • The 11th gen Suburban only offers a 5.3L V8 engine that produces 355 hp and 383 lb. ft. of torque. 
  • The current Suburban tows up to 8,300 lbs. 
  • Tech features include Blu-ray and DVD players, power tailgate, Chevy MyLink connectivity, an 8inch touchscreen, keyless entry, 6 USB powers and power outlets, wireless phone charging, Wi-Fi, and much more. 

12th Generation Chevrolet Suburban (2020-Present) 

2019 Suburban
2019 Suburban on
  • For the first time Chevy introduces an independent rear suspension to the 2019 Suburban. 
  • The exterior received a major update including a larger grille, new headlights, and redesigned rear end. 
  • The interior also got a major modernization both in terms of tech and design. Read more about the 2022 Chevrolet Suburban here. 
  • Possibly the biggest addition was the availability of the 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine.  
  • The Suburban also got larger with a longer wheel base by 4.1 inches, another 1.3 inches were added to total length. 

Read our breakdown of the Best Full-Sized SUVs here.

Other Similar GM Vehicles 

Similar Chevrolet Vehicles 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Related Car Review Articles

2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Review

2024 Subaru Impreza Review

Mid-Engine Milestone: Ferrari 512 BB

Chris Kaiser

With two decades of writing experience and five years of creating advertising materials for car dealerships across the U.S., Chris Kaiser explores and documents the car world’s latest innovations, unique subcultures, and era-defining classics. Armed with a Master's Degree in English from the University of South Dakota, Chris left an academic career to return to writing full-time. He is passionate about covering all aspects of the continuing evolution of personal transportation, but he specializes in automotive history, industry news, and car buying advice.

  • 1

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *