Earlier this week, we covered Chevy’s official recognition of 85 years of the Chevrolet Suburban. With eight and a half decades of history behind it, the Suburban is the longest-running nameplate in the history of the automobile industry. Now, we’re taking a quick look at all 11 generations, from 1935 to the present day.
First-Generation – 1935-1940
In 1935, the U.S. was still reeling from the Great Depression, but the time period also shaped the first-generation Chevrolet Suburban, which was introduced as a heavy-duty, steel-bodied wagon built on top of a half-ton truck chassis. Also known as the Suburban Carryall, the model came equipped with a two-door body style, a feature that would last until the late ‘60s, as well as an inline six-cylinder “Stovebolt” engine producing 60 horsepower. Seating for up to eight passengers could be found inside the cabin, as well as a maximum of 115.1 cubic feet of storage thanks to foldable second-row and removable third-row seating. Later, in 1937, new Art Deco styling was added, while engine output jumped to 79 horsepower.
Second Generation – 1941-1946
The second-generation Chevrolet Suburban was introduced during World War II, which meant that production was geared towards military duty. An inline six-cylinder was once again used for motivation.
Third Generation – 1947-1955
After the war, the Chevrolet Suburban got its first major update in 1947, heading into the civilian market as a do-it-all workhorse model. The inline six-cylinder engine was now making upwards of 174 pound-feet of torque at 1,200 rpm, which made the Suburban a solid choice for towing. Meanwhile, the HydraMatic four-speed automatic was introduced in 1954.
Fourth Generation – 1955-1959
Brand-new styling characterized fourth-gen models, with a new wraparound windshield up top and the deletion of running boards below, creating a solid design scheme with acres of metal. Under the hood, the fourth-gen Chevrolet Suburban saw the addition of Chevy’s first V8 engine—the iconic Small Block. Four-wheel drive was added in 1955.
Fifth Generation – 1960-1966
Further aesthetic updates were added in 1960, taking cues from Chevy’s late ‘50s models and characterized by large oval styling cues in the front fascia. This generation also adopted the C/K model destination, which was used to denote either 2WD (C) or 4WD (K). A new ladder-type frame was introduced in 1963, while factory A/C and rear-seat heating were added in 1965.
Sixth Generation – 1967-1972
After more than three decades, the Suburban finally received a new body style in 1967, adding a single rear door for three doors total. The setup made it easier to access the rear cargo area, making the Suburban a popular choice for ambulances.
Seventh Generation – 1973-1991
The seventh-generation introduced the very first four-door Chevrolet Suburban models in 1973. The wheelbase was also lengthened, measuring in at 129.5 inches front to back. A focus on comfort and amenities saw the introduction of features like front and rear A/C, third-row heating and step-up plates. Under the hood, electronic fuel injection and a new four-speed overdrive transmission were introduced in the late ‘80s.
Eighth Generation – 1992-1999
Following the long-lived gen seven, the eighth-generation Chevrolet Suburban helped to really catapult the nameplate into the mainstream. With all-new styling, an Insta-Trac four-wheel-drive system, four-wheel anti-lock brakes and a more comfortable, car-like ride, not to mention all the traditional practicality of the previous models, the Chevrolet Suburban helped to spearhead the big SUV boom of the ‘90s.
Ninth Generation – 2000-2006
The GMT800-based Suburban was introduced in 1999 for the 2000 model year, offered as both the half-ton 1500 and the three-quarter-ton 2500. The ninth generation also introduced new V8 engines, including the 5.3L Vortec 5300 and 6.0L Vortec 6000. Features and amenities were plentiful, and included highlights like puddle lamps, electronic climate control, a load-leveling Autoride suspension, and a new dash.
Tenth Generation – 2007-2014
Further styling changes for the tenth generation gave the Suburban a more aerodynamic shape, while the bumpers ditched the traditional chrome finish. Digital safety and driver assists were also made available, including features like Side Blind Zone Alert, electronic trailer sway control and Hill Start Assist.
Eleventh Generation – 2015-2020
The latest Chevrolet Suburban is replete with digital features, plus a new, highly efficient design. However, even after 85 years of production, the Chevrolet Suburban hasn’t lost the practicality-focused philosophy of the original, offering seating for up to nine passengers and a maximum of 121.7 cubic feet of cargo space.