2015 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, 2015 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL Revealed

It's easy to label full-size sport-utility vehicles "outdated." Scoff at them. Say that their time has passed and dismiss them as relics whose high-water mark came during the last Bush administration. Since then, this line of thinking goes, shifting consumer tastes, spiking fuel prices, and environmental concerns have rendered them all but extinct.

Not so fast, says General Motors. Large SUVs are profitable. Very profitable. That's why there will be redesigned versions of the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL in dealerships early next year.

Now, that cold logic does not cast GM in the most environmentally friendly light. This is, after all, the automaker that was defined, fairly or unfairly, as manufacturing only huge, gas-guzzling SUVs like the Hummer. Today, though, GM will happily sell you an electric car or a fuel-sipping four-cylinder crossover even while it produces a new class of big-boned SUVs. GM unapologetically maintains that the vehicles are for those who truly need or want serious capability and can afford to pay for it.

Regardless of the rationale, it's not a surprise these strapping SUVs are returning. They're closely related to GM's full-size pickups, the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra, which were redesigned for the 2014 model year. So naturally, the automaker was going to re-do the utes.

Major Changes
The thorough makeover for GM's SUVs is their first since 2007, and they launch as 2015 models. The Chevy Tahoe and Suburban and the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL are the same vehicle under the skin. It's one truck, with short- and long-wheelbase variants, sold through two different sales channels. They all have reinforced frames, new four-wheel disc brakes, and electric variable-assist power steering systems. Top versions (GMC's Denali and Chevy's LTZ) are fitted with third-generation magnetic ride control.

All of the SUVs are slightly longer and wider, resulting in about two more inches of legroom in the second row and easier entry and exit. The hoods are aluminum in a bid to cut weight, and the doors are now inlaid to reduce wind noise and improve aerodynamics.

The cabins can still carry up to nine passengers in three rows. They get fresh dashboards and a new panoramic "conversation" mirror that allows the driver to monitor what's going on in back. GM paid special attention to that key area, as the second and third rows can fold flat into the floor, and there is an optional power operation feature.

The utes also have more standard and optional safety equipment, including warning systems for collisions and lane departures, adaptive cruise control, and automatic braking. Anti-theft devices include interior motion detectors and steering column locks, a tacit admission by GM that its large SUVs are frequent targets for thieves.

The vehicles get a power boost from a new EcoTec3 5.3-liter V-8 rated at 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque and paired with a carryover six-speed automatic transmission. Power increases significantly from the previous Vortec V-8's 320 hp and 335 lb-ft. They're all available with rear- or four-wheel drive. GM did not release fuel economy ratings, though it claims the engines are more efficient than their predecessors. The GMC Yukon is also offered with a 6.2-liter V-8 pumping out 420 hp and 450 lb-ft, up from the previous V-8's 403 hp and 417 lb-ft.

Chevy gets stylish
The Suburban and the smaller Tahoe get updated exterior styling, with fresh sheetmetal not shared with their pickup truck relatives. In simple terms, they look familiar, though the panels are more creased to create a buffer appearance. Redesigning the iconic Suburban was a particular challenge, says Alexandre Henriques, lead designer for GM's full-size SUVs. The goal was to make all of the parts feel visually connected—especially with the placement of the projector-beam headlights and the way the fenders flare out. This is in stark contrast to the previous generation, which looked very truck-like and now appears dated on the road.

Henriques, a veteran designer with 13 years at GM, did stints in studios in Australia and Brazil before moving to Detroit to work on big SUVs. His outsider perspective clearly influenced the vehicles, as the new, richer exteriors help justify the hefty prices GM is going to charge.

"We tried to make them elegant and more straight forward," he says.

The new styling allowed designers to explore some of the Suburban's history and culture, including its pre-war roots as one of the original SUVs. They are not retro, but they capture the historic presence of the Suburban and "translate that look going forward," Henriques says.

Chevy designers made a similar effort to improve the cabin, which is a noticeable departure from the previous generation. The materials have nicer colors and textures. "It looks like a luxury vehicle," says Bryan Priebe, creative design manager for Chevy's large SUVs, about the spacious interior. Indeed, the updates to the cabin are obvious and handsome to the eye.

A nifty new feature called "ambient air" disperses air more evenly through specially shaped vents with the aim of avoiding blasting big gusts of air, even when it's 90 degrees in Dallas.

Naturally, there's a full suite of modern electronic amenities for the cabin. A 4.2-inch touchscreen for navigation, climate, and audio is standard, while an 8-inch screen is optional. Rear entertainment systems with dual screens are available, exclusively in the Suburban. There are 12 standard power outlets, meaning all nine passengers can charge their iPhones, and a few more can power up their iPads. Somewhere, Steve Jobs must be smiling.

More refinement for GMC
The Yukons have a new cargo management system that has more places for storage, including a compartment underneath the floor in back. There are also laminated windows that keep out noise from the interior. A subtle roof spoiler improves aerodynamics and also hides the wiper blade.

"The rear is not only cleaner, there's more shape to it, and it's more functional," Henriques says.

The exterior is marked by headlights with a C-shaped LED pattern, sleeker (though still familiar) body styling, and new wheel packages. The cabin has an updated soft-touch instrument panel and standard eight-inch touchscreen. The GMC models also get a new 9.5-inch rear axle, automatic locking rear differential, and StabiliTrak electronic stability control as standard equipment. The Denali models add more chrome, additional sound proofing, and larger standard wheels.

The Long View
It's hard to predict if there will be another generation of big utes for GM after these. They are probably at least eight years away anyway, and who knows what fuel prices will be by then. Contrary to popular opinion, CAFE standards for 2025 don't impact SUVs that much, as the rules factor in vehicle size and sales mix, allowing companies like GM to sell them if there's demand.

For the immediate future, these vehicles remain a cash cow for the automaker -- and an opportunity. The average large SUV on the road is now 11 years old, so there will soon be a significant number of potential buyers in the market.

"We think we're in a really good spot to capture a lot of those customers as they come back in," says John Schwegman, executive director of product and pricing for GM's trucks.

While the large SUV market is shrinking, it could also become less competitive. Analysts speculate that the Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia will be phased out soon, allowing GM to grab market share easily. The Nissan Armada is expected to be updated in the coming years, but none of the others will likely get the significant improvements GM's 2015 SUVs are receiving. Yes, if you're wondering, there will also be a redesigned Cadillac Escalade, which goes on sale next year as a 2015 model. If the Chevy and GMC models are cash cows, the Escalade is a veritable golden goose for GM.

Historically, large utes were not mainstream transportation, except for the 1990s era of cheap gasoline. The Suburban, especially, long has been relied upon by a small group of devoted owners who truly wanted and needed the space, utility, and towing capability it provides. In fact, the 2015 model marks the 80th anniversary of the iconic nameplate. With this latest generation, GM is clearly hoping the Suburban makes it to the century mark.

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban; 2015 GMC Yukon/Yukon XL

Base Price: N/A
As Tested: N/A
On Sale: Q1-2014
Powertrain
Engine: 5.3-liter OHV V-8; 6.2-liter OHV V-8 (GMC option)
Horsepower: 355 hp @ 5600 rpm; 420 hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 383 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm 450 lb-ft @4100 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: Rear- or four-wheel
Measurements
L x W x H: 203.9 x 80.5 x 74.4 Yukon
224.3 x 80.5 x 74.4 Yukon XL
204 x 80.5 x 74.4 Tahoe
224.4 x 80.5 x 74.4 Suburban
Headroom F/R: Tahoe/Yukon: 42.8/38.7/38.1
Suburban/Yukon XL: 42.8/39.1/38.5
Legroom F/R: Tahoe/Yukon: 45.3 (front) 39 (second) 24.8 (third)
Suburban/Yukon XL 45.3/39.7/34.5
Cargo Capacity: Tahoe/Yukon 94.7/51.7/15.3
Suburban/Yukon XL 121.1/76.4/38.8
Curb Weight: Tahoe/Yukon 5349 (lb), Suburban/Yukon XL 5576 (lb)
EPA Rating:N/A
Alejandro Zapata
ya le dieron en su madre a todos los modelos de chevrolet que feos la verdad
Nasuru Dheen
Good concept but car is very long one.. He had a highly perfomeble engine.. I thing v12 GDI 12cyl,5972cc / 600 ps/800 Torque(Nm) 6.0 . Engine this engin are including this suv the most power full suv.. Please accept my concept..
Erik Sveum Erstad
Very nice!
materialman80
They are big and they will have BIG prices too.
Walter Lang
Toyota Highlander is more affordable due to it is a car based SUV (Car chassis)This has a truck chassis, SORRY- NO COMPARISON! 
woolsocks
I find it funny how many of you really dislike these vehicles.  Personally, I find it interesting that despite being far more capable than any car, it's only 550 lbs heavier than a Mercedes E63 AMG S.  Why are these vehicles only sold in America?  Because Americans have the space, means, and desires to enjoy it.  Many American families have 4+ kids.  Many of those families also own a boat.  Many of those families also own a cabin.  For those families, this is the best available option to do what they want.  Even the largest crossover simply won't be capable of handling the abuse these families want to give it.  Yes, there's many places where owning one would be a massive liability.  But for those who live where there's space, it's a great vehicle.  
Ray Ramos
Working for gas tank,,,,it makes a lot of sense!!!
Toyota of Whittier
The Toyota Highlander is more affordable.
Dhani Harris
haters also complaint when the first ifs fullsize chevy truck hit the showroom floor, at the end they bought it and live happily with it
Nilo Alexander Vargas
fugly
Tim Lucas
@Jeff - When I was in England I saw a TON of 12mpg Range Rover and Land Rovers. It's prosperity that merrits these vehicles. Like @Jesda said, some of us have boats or horses that we can't tow with a Minivan.
Ken Mason
"Tonka" - but I'm not much for mega-SUV's
Deardo Johnson
Yeah I think its a great look awesome!!!!
Justin Lin Yixiang
Looks fine to me
Jesda Ulati
The little bit of sculpting along the beltline is nice. The headlights are tacky like large, fake eyelashes.
Jesda Ulati
If you want to be environmentally friendly, move to rural China and pull a rickshaw.
Jesda Ulati
Only in America do people have enough prosperity to own trailers, boats, and horses that need to be towed.
Kyree S. Williams
You're one of exactly twenty people that I've heard that from. It's a valid observation...
Alejandro Hidalgo
cheap
Justice Edwards
As the old adage goes: "you can put lipstick on a pig, but...."
Nathan Wiskamp
Front end looks too much like a traverse; this thing is supposed to be a TRUCK! Make it look like a truck, and not like its ugly little brother!
Aurelio A. Muzaurieta
Future car for mom....
Alsson Mata
The front is not chevy-like. Overall good design
Carlos Segura
This still looks "old" to me
Stefan Sliter
The silverado redesign is amazing but this looks like crap IMO. Then again I guess I'm not their target demographic for this vehicle anyway.
Steven Matthew Myers
Stupid headlamp scallops.
Charles Adams
Finally looks unique
Alex Mujica Jr
nice move to a more luxo move, but those tips on the lights & horrible excuse for a lower covered-vent scream cheap
Sreejish Sree
Headlight new design add now.
Jeff Martinson
Same pig, new lipstick
Mark Sparling
Ugly.
Mat Richter
i hope the GMC version is better looking
Ken Gary Putnam
Like it
Bob Gibson
I'll get scorched for this but, at a quick glance at a larger picture this morning, the Suburban kinda reminded me of a FLEX...
Jeff Kline
I wouldn't piss on one of these if it was on fire.
Stephen Tucker
...looks like a bus...
Brent Goldberg
i hate gaps between classes zzz
Parker Conley
hmm wise observation young fellow
Brent Goldberg
Yarly
Tim Kastner
headlights and front fenders are awful. Spoils an otherwise nice design
Mamacheu Edmund Mamabolo
BMW X5M.........beautiful car's come from Germany
Len Poole
Looks like an Expedition with a Edge-ified front. I keep expecting to see a blue oval on the grille, not a gold Bowtie.
Ahmed Herthani
Looks gross
Manuel Mendoza
Ford Flex on bigger wheels! Ford Fan!
Manuel Mendoza
Ford looks wayyyy better
freetome
The beltline looks too high.  Notice the height relative to the front headrests.  It makes the whole thing look even more slab-sided than it is.I don't want the nose of the Dustbuster minivans to come back but that is one tall, boxy, flat-hooded front end.
Rick Reny
Gigantic, ridiculous, ugly, pointless, irrelevent, unwieldy, inefficient, uncool, illogical, slow, ungainly....etc
Mike Saller
They so copied Ford with those headlights lol
Gus Ramirez
Moshé Ortega mira!
nknorka
@Bob Gibson I had same reaction.

New Car Research

Find reviews, photos & pricing for:

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe

2015 GMC Yukon

our instagram

get Automobile Magazine

Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand price

subscribe

new cars

Read Related Articles

TO TOP