Big changes are coming to the 2020 Chevrolet Suburban.
Spy photographers captured images of an early Suburban prototype undergoing testing at General Motors’ Milford, Mich., proving grounds. The three-row SUV is instantly recognizable due to its familiar silhouette and truckish size.
The 2020 Chevrolet Suburban is expected to debut sometime next year. An independent rear suspension and the possible availability of the turbocharged four-cylinder engine from the 2019 Silverado pickup in some versions are among the expected changes.
Styling is highlighted by a recognizable overall shape along with lighting features that resemble those on the new Silverado. Headlights use bright LEDs that stretch around the side of the SUV and taillights hint at a modernized yet powerful look.
The smaller 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine could add an enticing fuel-efficient alternative to the Suburban’s beefy 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8 powerplants, said Stephanie Brinley, analyst for IHS Markit.
“We expect GM will use the engine in upcoming full-size SUVs, and it should make a solid addition with improved standard performance and fuel economy,” Brinley said.
In the 2019 Silverado the engine makes 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy ratings are not yet available.
The photographs also show that updates are coming to the Suburban’s ride and handling. Engineers applied a camouflage material to the underside of the car that appears to hide an independent rear suspension design.
Traditionally the Suburban and its smaller Tahoe sibling use a truck-like solid rear axle that enhances towing capability. An independent rear suspension, which allows each rear wheel to move up and down over bumps on its own, can offer lighter weight and improved ride quality.
The all-new 2018 Ford Expedition, General Motors’ largest competitor in the large SUV segment, introduced its first-ever independent rear suspension. It delivers a smooth ride and impressive off-road ability.
Chevrolet sold nearly 15,000 Suburbans through the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 9.5 percent over the same period in 2017, according to industry research firm Autodata Corp.
Expedition sales are down by 12.9 percent to 13,450 units in the first quarter, while its Lincoln Navigator luxury sibling is up 63 percent to more than 4,000 units.
However adding all of GM’s large SUVs together puts the automaker firmly in the market lead. Its Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, along with GMC Yukon and Yukon XL sales topped 53,000 units in the first quarter.