2023 Chevrolet Suburban High Country
The Inconspicuous Escalade
Less conspicuous than the Cadillac Escalade - and quite a bit cheaper - the 2023 Chevrolet Suburban High Country has a lot to offer.
By J-F Wright
Wed, Mar 1, 2023 08:01 AM PST
Images by the author J-F Wright if not noted otherwise.
OK, so let’s start with the obvious: This is a large vehicle. How big? Like, really big. I can line up my three kids (10, 8, and 6 years old) in front of the supersized chevy emblem adorning the grill and still not see them from the driver’s seat. If I wanted to wash this beast I would need a step stool to reach the center of the hood - and a small ladder to reach the top of the roof. My six year old can walk back to the third row without hunching over - given that she made it into the car in the first place (thank you Power Retractable Assist Steps!).
Oh, as a final example: I loaded nine (9!!) full-size checked bags, five (5!!) carry-on sized bags, and two small backpacks, installed three full-size child seats with one child in each, and still had space for my wife and myself in the front. And no, the car did not look like an overstuffed bratwurst - I could still see out the rear window when glancing at the rear-view mirror. Not that it would have mattered if I had filled the Suburban - the rear-view mirror can be set to work with the rear-view camera, so you’ll always see what’s behind you.
So, let’s get the question of price out of the way… With this large vehicle comes an equally, and maybe surprisingly, large price tag. This is a Chevrolet after all, and for most folks a Chevy should not come with a six-figure (almost) sticker. OK, I’m being a little unfair, the actual sticker price of our test vehicle is $91,655 - so, not quite six figures. For the record though, it’s worth every one of those figures/dollars, if you happen to have that sort of budget for your car purchase.
Then again, to be fair, our particular test vehicle is not the run-of-the-mill entry-level Suburban - those (the “LS” trim) start at $59,790. No no, this is the top-of-the-line High Country with four wheel drive - starting out with a standard vehicle price of $80,100. Then, on top of that, this beast includes some extra goodies…
The Advanced Technology Package ($2,700) includes the SuperCruise feature (more on that later) and an enhanced automatic parking system (see “Parking This Beast” below). Then there’s the Rear Seat Media System ($1,995) which includes two iPad-like screens for the second row. The Power Retractable Assist Steps with Perimeter Lighting add yet another $1,745. The Air Ride Adaptive Suspension, an Adaptive Cruise Control, and a Max Trailering Package add $1,100, $500, and $465 respectively. Stick a Panoramic Sunroof on there to top it all off (horrible pun intended) and it’ll tick up with another $1,500.
But, let’s not focus on the price too much - the buyer interested in the top-of-the-line Suburban isn’t counting pennies anyway (or Ben Franklins for that matter). Less conspicuous than the Cadillac Escalade (and a few dollars cheaper - the Caddy can easily bust through that magic six-figure price tag), the 2023 Chevrolet Suburban High Country has a lot to offer. An insane amount of bells and whistles, without attracting the attention that you might with a Cadillac Escalade.
If you’re seriously looking into any GM product you’ll already have come across “SuperCruise”. As the name implies, it’s a next-level cruise control… Most drivers have gotten used to the regular old cruise control we’ve had for decades. Some of us have gotten used to the adaptive cruise control function available as an option in most new cars. SuperCruise is still a cruise control, as opposed to the automated driving feature offered on Tesla, for example, but it’s a huge step up from the adaptive cruise control, not to mention the good old “regular” cruise.
The SuperCruise feature makes the Suburban a self-driving beast on 200,000 miles of compatible roads in the U.S. and Canada. It mainly works on highways, but the good news is that pretty much all highways in the L.A. area are compatible.
Fun Features And Technology
The 2023 Chevrolet Suburban High Country has so many features that we can’t even list half of them without first renaming this article to a “novel” or “essay”. But some of the features, most of them high-tech, are definitely worth mentioning:
Front Pedestrian Braking
I’ve never had it engage the brake (and I don’t have any volunteers to test out being the pedestrian) but I have noticed that a warning shows up in the heads-up-display whenever there’s a person walking somewhere close to my driving path. So I guess that means the Suburban software can see the person, which would be the first step in making sure I/we/it doesn’t hit said person.
Not to be construed with a NSFW-feature - the diver’s seat vibrates to warn you of hazards and to make you aware of something specific. If the seat vibrates you’ll want to look for the warning text or symbol that now is prominently displayed somewhere - most probably in the heads-up display.
The Power Retractable Assist Steps will be a big help for most folks to get into the Suburban. Smaller kids would not stand a chance without it - watching them get in and out could turn an otherwise mundane school pickup into an entertaining climbing exercise.
Powered Second and Third Row Seats
Climbing in through the back of the Suburban just to fold down the third row seats is a hassle, so having them magically disappear with the push of a button is nice. Buttons are in the trunk space.
A head-up display, or HUD, is still not a common feature for most daily drivers. However, once you get used to seeing information displayed in front of you on the windscreen (where you’re supposed to be looking anyway) it feels bohemian to drive a car without it.
Adaptive Air Conditioning
This one caught me by surprise… When the climate system is trying to quickly cool down (or heat up) the car, it will be running the fans as fast as possible. This is, of course, a bit loud (no getting around it). Well, I noticed that the fans slow down from their max speed if you place or receive a call, to help you hear the caller.
I tip my hat to the GM engineer that had a hard time hearing a caller over the fan-noise and decided to fix the problem. And no ,"Adaptive Air Conditioning" is not the name being used in Chevrolet’s marketing - I actually haven’t seen anything that mentions this feature.
Parking This Beast
If you have a huge garage - or if you live on a ranch - you’ll have no problems parking this beast at home. Fortunately, given the gazillion cameras included in the HD Surround Vision feature (included in the High Country trim), you won’t have a problem parking pretty much anywhere. There are cameras facing in every direction and the multitudes of views are displayed in a really intuitive way. You can choose to see the car from above, for example, which confused the kids in the back seat… “Does the car have a selfie-stick on the roof?”. You can display closeup views of the wheels, helping you get close - but not too close - to the curb. There’s a “regular” rear-view camera (of course), and a front-view camera as well.
Many (most?) cars have at least one camera in the rear that turns on automatically when the car is set to reverse. A seemingly minor feature in the 2023 Suburban is the button that turns on the display for all these cameras - without having to set the car in reverse. Interestingly, the cameras can be turned on whenever, including while driving down the highway. Not sure what situations at highway speeds warrant using the cameras, but I’m sure there’s one or two edge cases. I really like having the choice though.
Exterior - Did we mention that this is a huge SUV?
Chevrolet has done a great job finding a good middle-ground - the exterior lines keep the Suburban looking somewhat humble without stripping it of its grandiose. It looks big, but somehow does’t look stupidly huge. It seems to fit in on the family driveway - next to bicycles, basketball hoops, and the like - without sacrificing on class… It’ll do just as well pulling up to a fancy valet when mom and dad go out on Friday night.
Again, did we mention that this is a huge SUV? Yeah, well that is just as true inside as out. You can haul a large family with pretty much any, and all, of their luggage. Going for a weekend trip? Easy! Family of five going for a month-long roadtrip with no access to a laundry machine? That’ll probably fit as well. Got dogs? Well, even with the third row in use, the pups still have plenty of space.
But, let’s not focus too much on the size - the interior has much more to offer than just sheer hugeness. The Suburban High Country has a really nice - luxurious - interior. The layout of tech and buttons is intuitive - locating the toggles for a specific feature isn’t rocket science, and once you’ve found it it’ll become second nature to hit the right button next time.
The only button located in a bit of a peculiar place - in my opinion - is the toggle to turn on the camera views. It’s to the left of the steering wheel, the complete opposite side of the cockpit from the screen that it turns on. But, I can see why it’s there, there isn’t really a good place anywhere near the screen. But, this one took a couple times before it was embedded in my cortex.
Driving And Comfort
Comfortable? Yes. Spacious? Yes. Plush leather? Yes. A top-of-the-line Suburban will not disappoint - you’ll feel pampered. The captain chairs are comfortable, both up front and in the second row. Passengers in the second row, by the way, can have an insane amount of space - the captain chairs can move quite a bit back, giving the passenger a living-room feeling.
Driving this beast is comfortable, and even though it might at first feel like you should have graduated truck-driving school before getting behind the wheel, you’ll quickly get a feel for where the car starts and ends… Kinda. Without the cameras it would have taken a while longer, they are very helpful in a lot of circumstances, both tight spots and just maneuvering around a driveway.
Sitting this high up - with such a massive hood ahead of you - can be really intimidating. Things (the curb, children, dogs, Fiat 500s) can easily disappear from view in front of and behind the vehicle. This is also true for the blind spots (more common to loose track of cars there, not too many dogs can keep up with a car, and even fewer kids) - but thanks to the blind spot warning system you’ll at least be warned before you crush something in the lane next to you.
Power And Handling
Sure, this ain’t no sports sedan - so let’s not get our hopes up - but it doesn’t feel like a truck either. The Air Ride Adaptive Suspension must be working really hard to keep this beast from feeling like the colossal giant that it is. No, you won’t win any races in a Suburban, but you won’t have any problems getting up to speed in your daily driving routine either. There’s plenty of power coming from the 6.2 liter V8 and the 10-speed automatic transmission will quickly shift to whatever gear is needed to get you going. As an added bonus, the V8 has an amazing rumble - both at idle and when stomping on that right pedal.
First off, I love this car. So does my wife and kids. Actually, the kids had an even harder time saying goodbye to the Suburban than I did, when the review-vehicle was picked up.
My parent’s had a Suburban when I was growing up - I remember how great it was being able to haul whatever we wanted, even on long roadtrips that already required lots of packing. That was the nineties and the car was from the late eighties - a lot has happened since then. The technology and comfort features available nowadays help make the Suburban the luxury SUV it’s marketed as, rather than the big truck with lots of seats that we had back in the days.
As mentioned, my three kids love it too - plenty of space and plenty of comfort in both of the rows. And, as an added bonus, the seats are far enough apart that the kids can’t easily reach each other - minimizing the “she pinched me!”-episodes.
I especially love the fact that this is a Suburban, and not an Escalade. Don’t get me wrong - I love the Escalade! - it’s just that I’m the kind of person who would rather be known as the low-key dad pulling up in a Suburban as opposed to the a bit more "flashy" Escalade. Nobody needs to know that I spent almost 100k on a Suburban or that my ride is nicer than most other cars in the parking lot.
About The Author
John-Fredrik Wright was born in Sweden, but raised on both sides of the Atlantic. His experience in the automotive industry starts with a summer-job as a host at Volkswagen’s premier showroom in Stockholm. Later, he worked as an instructor at Swedish Active Driving, teaching safe driving (among other things the renowned "elk-avoidance maneuver") and advanced driving techniques.