The Soul of a Huge Machine

The nuts and bolts of a Suburban are more complicated than you might think.

TRAILER HITCH
Another option that’s great for the ranch-style look, even if you don’t ever plan to haul anything.

THE BACK DOOR
The big debate: panel doors or a tailgate with a roll-down window? Panel doors are more functional (you don’t have to reach for groceries), but the tailgate is classier.

FORTY-GALLON GAS TANK
Optional (25-gallon is standard), but a good idea unless you enjoy making frequent visits to your neighborhood gas station.

CARGO AREA
One of the great features of a Suburban. If you try to transport more than five people in a big station wagon or a minivan, you have to cannibalize the cargo area. In a Suburban you can haul nine people without affecting the cargo area of 40 cubic feet – bigger than a standard car trunk. And if you’re really serious about gear, you can take out the rear seat, fold down the middle seat, and increase the hauling capacity to 167 cubic feet – bigger than some cars.

REAR AIR CONDITIONER
Optional equipment, but should be mandatory in Texas to prevent the back of the car from turning into a crematorium.

THREE ROWS OF SEATS
The Suburban seats nine or, if you want bucket seats in front, eight. And these aren’t phony numbers arrived at by placing seat belts in uncomfortable spots where no one over the age of three would willingly sit. Every passenger has his own space: no scrunched-up knees, no huddled masses yearning to be free.

LUGGAGE RACK
This Suburban doesn’t have one. Most do. But why? I’ve never seen one in use. Even if you wanted to use one, you’d need a stepladder to reach it.

DARK GLASS WINDOWS
Optional, but basic to the luxury car appeal; limousines have nothing on a Suburban when it comes to ensuring privacy. Designed to keep out the rays of the sun, the dark glass does the same to prying eyes, which may be why Suburbans are sometimes called harem-mobiles.

ELECTRIC DOOR LOCKS
On some cars they’re a luxury. On the Suburban they’re a necessity. The Suburban is so wide that the driver can’t reach the passenger door.

RUNNING BOARDS
That’s right – there aren’t any. Thank goodness. The optional metal running boards, which are bolted to the insides of the wheel wells, are ugly and effete. If there is anything a Suburban shouldn’t be, it’s effete. Besides, kids would rather climb and adults don’t need to.

OVERSIZED OUTSIDE MIRRORS
Great for seeing. Not so great for mailing letters. The mirror sticks out so far that if you’re not careful, it will smash against the mailbox chute.

WHITEWALL TIRES
Part of that city luxury look. But if you want to look like you own a ranch, remember that ordinary blackwalls are the working-truck’s tire.

V-8 ENGINE
The heart of the beast. It provides speed, power, and a heady feeling that you are king of the road. The 350-cubic-inch engine is standard; a 454-cubic-inch version is for heavier models.

Tags: THE CULTURE

More Texas Monthly

Loading, please wait...

Most Read

  • Viewed
  • Past:
  • 1 week