Texas Made Suburbans
They say that “everything is bigger in Dallas,” which can be debatable; however, the history of the Chevy Suburban in Texas is pretty extensive. The Chevrolet Suburban has been the longest-running model for not only full-sized SUVs but for any automobile in production. Dallas is about a half-hour from one of the top U.S. Chevy dealerships, and where the first Suburban was manufactured. Given the backstory of over 11 generations and a bigger is better hometown, it’s easy to see why the Suburban is so popular, especially at Chevy dealerships around Dallas. Here at Frank Kent Chevrolet, we love the Suburban and want to share that love with you, so read on about its vast history and then visit our lot to see one for yourself.
The first generation of the Chevy Suburban began in 1935 when it was called the Carryall Suburban. It was primarily made to carry as many people as possible being built on the chassis of a small truck with the body of a station wagon. It was capable of seating eight, with the first and third rows having three seats and the middle row having two. This only lasted five years until the next generation.
The second generation was marked from 1941 to 1946, though the Suburban was only being produced in 1941, 1942, and 1946. Its primary function of being able to carry a lot of people remained the same, and it started being produced as a military transport vehicle during the war. These model years had a 216-cubic-inch 6-cylinder engine and had a few similarities with trucks in the A.K. series.
The third generation began in 1947 and lasted another five years. Advancements led to these model years being built based on the Chevrolet Advanced Design, and in 1952, panel doors or a tailgate came standard with the Suburban. After General Motors, Chevrolet introduced the Hydra-Matic 4-speed automatic transmission by 1954, marking the end of the third generation.
Produced from 1955 to 1959, the fourth generation of the Suburban had a bit more to offer than the previous years. The exterior was redesigned to have a more modern and stylish appearance. The grille changed shape, the hood became flatter, and its speedometer adopted the V shape from car models. There were two engine options available, a 4.3L V8 providing 145 horsepower, and a 4.6L V8 providing 155 horsepower. In 1957, four-wheel drive became available. A Suburban pickup was sold for a short amount of time during this generation, but they weren’t very popular. It’s not known exactly how many models were sold after records were destroyed in a fire.
The fifth-generation began in 1960 with more adjustments to the exterior appearance. These years closely resemble what a toddlers depiction of a car looks like. The windshield was flatter and slightly wrapped around, along with fewer port stylings. The 2WD version, or C, messed around with the suspension, trailing arm, and coil springs, but returned to a version that made more sense by 1963. Transmission options included a 3-speed synchromesh manual, 4-speed synchromesh, and Powerglide, along with seven different engine options available depending on the exact year.
The sixth-generation, lasting from 1967 to 1972, had Chevy Suburbans that looked similar to the previous model years, but this time there are only three doors, the driver’s side, and two passenger-side doors. Though not uncommon, it was less practical than what the Suburban was created for. This year there were eight different engine options and four transmission options which were a 3 or 4-speed manual, Powerglide, and Turbo-Hydramatic. The front wheels included disc brakes for the 1971 model, and in 1972 the back seat air conditioning became smaller along with available Comfort-Tilt steering. Chevy Dealerships not only in and around Dallas but all over the country saw a spike in sales during this generation growing from around 6,200 to around 27,000 vehicles.
The longest generation is the seventh from the year 1973 up to 1991. It did become a four-door SUV during this time, but there were no other major body design changes other than that. Interior features began to include third seat heating, a baggage rack, step plates, and the Eaton Automatic Differential Lock became available. On some of the later years, anti-lock braking systems were introduced. In 1987, the method of fuel delivery changed from using carburetors to using electronic fuel injection. As for the engine, diesel had three choices, while gasoline had six. Transmission options range from 3 or 4-speed manual to a 3-Speed THM-350 or 3-Speed THM-400 and 4-Speed 700R4 or 4-Speed 4L80-E in the later years.
The eighth-generation began in 1992 and ended in 1999, but that didn’t stop Chevy from continuing to make advancements on their vehicles. Chevy dealerships continued to do well and decided to make slight changes each year in this generation. Some of the adjustments had to do with lighting, mirrors, airbags, engines, transmissions, security, and performance. Five engine options in total were available and two 4-speed automatic transmissions. In 1998, Chevy incorporated OnStar, PassLock, and AutoTrac into the Suburban, leading into the major technology advancements in the coming years.
The ninth-generation based on the GMT 800, was first released in Arlington, Texas. It was a month before being nationally released at every Chevy dealership. Dallas got a head start in December 1999, though this generation lasted from 2000 to 2006. A few of the previous engines were retired in these years, allowing for new and improved transmission options to become available. Audio systems and quality greatly improved with X.M. Satellite Radio and Bose speakers. The Driver Information Center was capable of monitoring up to 34 of the vehicle’s functions, and kids were able to be kept at bay with an available DVD system. A few of the other features that came with the ninth generation were StabiliTrak, Quadrasteer, and Hydroboost braking.
The 10th generation lasted seven years, from 2007 to 2014. Finally, the Suburban was given a more stylish appearance, reducing its boxiness with a steep windshield and aerodynamic body to go with the variety of exterior color options. It is still possible to seat up to nine people comfortably but typically sat eight. There were even more audio improvements, as well as a ton of safety and performance features. Trailer Sway Control, Hill Start Assist, remote vehicle starter, power-adjustable pedals, and rear parking assist were features that became standard on all trim levels during this generation. In 2010, the Chevy Suburban was the top affordable large SUV, according to U.S. News & World Report.
The final generation so far is the 11th, bringing us from 2015 to where we’re at today. These Suburban years are only being assembled in Arlington, Texas as a way to remember where the nameplate had started back in 1935. This gave Dallas Chevy dealerships an advantage over other Chevy dealerships when we were given the first glimpse at the 2015 model at the State Fair of Texas in the month of September.
Still, with the 11th generation, there were many features that were standard, some of which are LED daytime running lights, MyLink, more audio improvements, and infotainment system adjustments. In regards to the Suburban’s exterior appearance, the design manager, Chip Thole stated, “We wanted to take what was good about today’s vehicles, bring that forward and make them new and different with that spark of freshness that people recognize, without making them gimmicky or overdone.” What’s under the hood for the 2019 model had a few major changes as well, with two engine options, a 5.3L V8 and a 6.2L V8.
The Chevy Suburban has come a long way from where it started, and it will be interesting just to see how long this nameplate will continue to be built. Chevy dealerships like ours in Ennis, Texas, are sure to do well, especially if being built exclusively in Texas is a trend set to continue.