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Last Post 11 Dec 2008 02:30 PM by  gtfour77
Best Suburban for towing ~5000#?
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gtfour77
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26 Nov 2008 04:07 PM
    Quick question for the experts. For now I have decided on a Chevrolet Suburban as my tow vehicle. Is there a major difference between the 1997-99 and 2000-up models? I know the newer ones have the better Vortec engine but is it really worth the extra money? Is it thatmuch better on gas mileage? Any reliability issues with the prior generation Suburbans? Any other suggestions on SUV's? Which model Suburban should I avoid? Fuel economy? Ease of repair? Any suggestions would be appreciated. (BTW I will be purchasing an open trailer and towing ~2850# car)
    geewiz
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    26 Nov 2008 04:42 PM

    Any suburban should be more than capable of towing an open trailer.

    I think (although I'm not sure) that they made the diesels up through '99; that's your ticket for fuel economy while towing. The transmissions in the 1500 series pre-00s do not have the best reputation.
     
    I tow with a '96 2500 with the 7.4L and it didn't even really notice when I towed an open trailer (a light one with a light racecar). It got 11 MPG towing -- and 11.5MPG not towing :).
     
    -- Glenn 
    Dave Hardy
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    26 Nov 2008 05:15 PM
    If you get a 2500 / 3500, it will handle and brake better. Any of them will pull just fine.
    msw151
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    26 Nov 2008 09:32 PM
    GM had a problem beginning in 1999 with piston slap in the 5.3, 5.7, 6.0 liter engines. See pistonslap.com for more information. Not sure if this is a real problem, or just a NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) perception problem.
    reddog_es22
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    27 Nov 2008 12:13 AM

    gtfour77 wrote:
    Quick question for the experts. For now I have decided on a Chevrolet Suburban as my tow vehicle.  Is there a major difference between the 1997-99 and 2000-up models? I know the newer ones have the better Vortec engine but is it really worth the extra money? Is it thatmuch better on gas mileage?  Any reliability issues with the prior generation Suburbans?   Any other suggestions on SUV's?  Which model Suburban should I avoid? Fuel economy? Ease of repair?  Any suggestions would be appreciated.  (BTW I will be purchasing an open trailer and towing ~2850# car)

     

    My background: GM Master Tech, previous tow vehicle was a 2000 Silverado 2500 (6.0L, 4L80E, 3.73 rear end), current tow vehicle  is a 2002 GMC Yukon (5.3L, 4L60E, 3.73 rear end). The Silverado had the same drivetrain as a Suburban  2500.

    You absolutley want a 2000 or later model. The difference in build quallity between a 1999 and a 2000 is HUGE. The interior is worlds better, and I'd rather have a 5.3 or 6.0 over a 350 any day of the week. Drive both, you'll be amazed how much better the newer trucks are.

    Any Yukon/Yukon XL/Tahoe/Suburban will tow an open trailer/car. The difference is that the 5.3 that you get in the 1/2 ton has to work a lot harder to get it done. With the 6.0 I was able to maintain speed in overdrive and not have the truck downshift, with the 5.3 I generally lose speed whenever I hit a decent hill. The 6.0 tows using the cruise control, with the 5.3 I actually have to work the throttle myself. 

    Fuel mileage was comparable, I get around 13 mpg in either vehicle.

    Get the 3.73 rear end if at all possible. The 3.42 is just too low to tow with, and the 4.10 gets crappy mileage. The 3.73 is the best ciompromise. 

    The 1/2 ton trucks (1500) use the 4L60E transmission, the 4L80E you get in the 2500 is a lot tougher. I'd loan the Silverado to people to tow with because I knew it was bulletproof, I'm a lot more selective about who borrows the Yukon because of the weaker trans. I've had the trans apart in the Yukon already, mine was an unusual breakage but it's not unusual for people that tow a lot to have problems.

    Is there any chance you will ever get an enclosed trailer? I pulled a 24 foot enclosed trailer empty with the Yukon and it literally couldn't stay in overdrive in a 55 zone, I ended up having to leave it in 3rd gear. It might have been better in a 65 zone (more revs) but it was really working to pull it without a car inside.Pulling the same trailer with the Silverado (6.0L) I was even able to do some passing on the 2 lane on the way to CMP.

    If I was going to do it again I'd probably go with Yukon XL 2500 or Suburban 2500 w/ the 6.0L. You could get the big block but the fuel mileage will SUCK. It can pull a house off the foundation, but you'll have to fill the tank as soon as you're done. The 6.0 is the best compromise, enough power to get it done, but not so big that the mileage will kill you.

    BTW, don't even think about a Yukon Denali. Yeah, it has the 6.0L, but it still has the 4L60E, and it's AWD. You WILL have to rebuild the front axle, all the AWD vehicles have front axle problems at one time or another. 

    edit: And yeah, the new motors do piston slap when cold. Sounds like crap, hasn't caused any problems that I've seen at the dealership. 

     

      

     

    gtfour77
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    01 Dec 2008 11:35 AM
    Thank you so much for all the great replies. In case I can't find a decently priced 2000 and up model, would the older ones (96-99) be just as reliable? Is it just a ride quality that will suffer? (gas mileage is the same corect?) Looks like I'll be aiming for a 2500 series but in case I can find a really good deal on a 1500 suburban, is there anything I can do to prevent trans problems? Are they easily repairable/upgradable? Could a 4L80E be swapped into a 1500 series truck for reliability?
    Rich Grunenwald
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    07 Dec 2008 12:42 PM

    What Scott said. I had a 1997 Yukon (like the Tahoe) with the 5.7l, towing package, and 3.73 rear. I towed about 4500 lbs open then 6800 enclosed. It was OK for the open trailer but woefully inadequate for the enclosed.

    I sold my 1997 Yukon and my Lexus IS300 and replaced them with a 2005 Suburban. Mine is a 2wd 1500 with the 5.3. For towing, I would prefer a 2500 with the 6.0, but I drove one and felt that the 1500 would be better to live with every day. For towing my 6800 lb enclosed, it is good but not great. Power is OK, but everything must be planned. Brakes are way better than on the 1997, but still not great. And, as Scott stated, the transmission is weaker, and it has had to be rebuilt at 60,000 miles. Replace the factory cooler with a larger one, and put a trans temp gauge on it and watch it.

    I have not looked into a 4L80E swap but would be interested in hearing if it can be done.

    As far as driving everyday, the 2005 is SO much better than the 1997. Even the 2005 2500 was better the 1997 Yukon. There is really no comparison. In my experience, the 2005 gets better MPG in both towing and everyday driving than the 1997.

    I would say the older ones would not be as reliable. The 1500's have the weaker transmission. Many of the 5.7L have the piston slap issue previously mentioned, as well as a gasket leak around the intake manifold where you lose coolant. Not excessively hard to fix but time consuming. But, you can find a nice one for pretty cheap these days.

    If you don't have to drive it everyday, go for an older 2500 with the 7.4L. Who cares about gas mileaage if you don't drive it much? If you drive it every day, then a newer 1500 will do fine with the open trailer.

    gtfour77
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    11 Dec 2008 02:30 PM
    Thanks again for great replies, I am looking really hard at 2000-up 2500 series with the 6.0l engine...should be decent for limited local driving and great for towing the toy car. Great info, hope it helps others too.
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