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Which Year Suburban 2500?

azwildcat99
Explorer
Explorer
We are thinking about getting rid of the truck in sig and moving to a 3/4 ton Suburban. We've taken two cars on occasion to accommodate family/friends in addition to my family of 5 and expect to do it more often. My dilemma for the burb is which year?

I like the NBS ones and think it will pull my trailer well with the newer 6sp tranny but I have heard the hitch is a weak spot. My trailer has a GVWR of 9000lbs and last I had it weighed with my truck and WDH attached the trailer axle showed 7k. I was at 15.5k total and my truck weighs about 6850 unloaded (2350 payload per yellow sticker). Unfortunately, I didn't weigh the trailer by itself, but let's assume I'm at least at 8k (yellow sticker shows 6600 empty).

Is my trailer too much weight for the hitch of the newer ones? Do I need to look for the classic with the 8.1? I worry that the older 6.0/4sp will make climbing the hills out of Phoenix not fun, even with a 4.10 rear. Especially coming from my current Duramax.

If anyone thinks payload will be an issue, let me know your thoughts on that too. I think I'll have about 300lbs to play with once family and trailer are hooked up with a payload cap of about 2100 in the newer burb. Do the older ones have more payload?

Also, I will be getting a 4x4 so a van is out of the question. Plus I don't want a van. Also, I am not sold on the Excursion either so let's limit the posts to the GM twins ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks in advance for the responses!
2007 GMC Sierra 2500HD CCSB 4X4 D/A
2012 Heartland Prowler 27P BHS
Honda EU2000i
19 REPLIES 19

azwildcat99
Explorer
Explorer
azwildcat99 wrote:

Just to see how things handle, I'll be taking my Dad's "new to him" 06 2500HD with the 6.0/4.10 combo up to Sunset Point this weekend towing my trailer. It's a good climb out of Phoenix and should give me a good idea if that combo would be bearable in the Sub.


Just to pseudo-close the loop.

I towed my trailer with my Dad's 2500HD 6.0/4.10/4L80 combo up to Cordes Junction. I was able to maintain 50mph up the climb in 2nd, however I had no acceleration. It didn't matter how much throttle I gave it, the speedo was stuck at 50. For comparison, my diesel can maintain 65mph and still accelerate, although I usually drop to 60 on that hill. Not too bad all in all, at least I know what I'll be getting into as that engine/rear-end combo would be the least powerful I'd consider. The 6.0/6L90 will be better.

It really doesn't factor into my decision, but just for the sake of sharing MPGs were 7.7 going up when I filled up in Cordes Junction and 9 on the way down. I usually average around 9 at that same fill-up and 12 on the way down.

I'm still on the hunt for the elusive gently used 08+ 2500 Burb, but am in no hurry. I'll just wait till the right one comes available and see if we like it.
2007 GMC Sierra 2500HD CCSB 4X4 D/A
2012 Heartland Prowler 27P BHS
Honda EU2000i

BenK
Explorer
Explorer
azwildcat99 wrote:
I just caught a lead on an 06 4x4 8 pass. cloth with the 8.1, but the yellow sticker lists payload at only 1980. Can that be right? I thought for sure they were all lighter than the newer models. Has anyone actually weighed their TV empty and found the real payload different than the yellow sticker indicates?


GREAT confusion on how the various ratings, weights (both listed
and actual), acronyms (GVWR, F/R-GAWR, MTWR, GCWR and a big ETC) are
not confusing at all...once you folks accept how it is done...and that
you folks are taking 'one' RATING out of context in reference to the
other ratings

It is a whole system and interplay or multiplexed. That is really the
only way the OEMs can do it...as the matrix is huge and even more
confusing

Here is how the whole ratings system (yes...a system with interdependency's...and note that is a plural)

howmuchcanitow


Know my TV the best and have most of the info to back it up and/or
show you folks how it works. Reference the ratings graphic above
for each number if you find it confusing

GMT400, 1996 GMC Suburban. Ordered it after placing several refundable
deposits all over the area...to have them call it is 'in'...then to
find all of them half tons....wrong color...2WD to loaded with everything
they could bolt on. SUV's were 'hot' and to 'die for' at that time
and hated getting caught in the midst of fashion statement crowd
driving SUV hysteria...that seemingly continues to this day

Bought it from a semi dealer/broker who sold 'cars' as a favor to
their customers. Real truck sales folks and knew their stuff both
for cars and trucks

Here is my door label listing GVWR FGAWR RGAWR and tire size


Notice the wrong/wacky GVWR of 7,900 vs the 8,600 above. This label
stuck next to the correct label above


My glove box door label listing all options ordered and delivered with



Here is a GMT800/2004 half ton Suburban door label to give an example
that the label lists the same types of info from year to year, era to era



So here goes my ratings info:

GMT400/1996 3/4 ton Suburban SLT (highest option package), 4x4, 7.4L,
2nd/3rd row seats, console, ceiling console, etc, etc
Reference above glove box label for ALL of the options on my Sub
and note the F60 option (snow plow prep package)...why I tongue-n-cheek
call mine a K3500 :B

GVWR.......8,600 lbs
FGAWR......4,250 lbs
RGAWR......6,000 lbs
MTWR......10,000 lbs
Curb.......5,250 lbs
GCWR......16,000 lbs
Actual.....7,xxx lbs (can't remember the exact number from the garden scales

My weight...180 lbs



So according to how most folks 'think' it works...taking the GVWR of
8,600 minus the curb of 5,250 = 3,350 lb payload or cargo capacity or
rating

But that is so wrong, as my Sub with me in it at the garden scales has
it weigh in around 7,200 lbs...so my 'true' or 'actual' cargo or
payload with me in it, the toolbox & misc stuff is 8,600 - 7,200 = 1,400 lbs

Or less than half of what they can 'advertise' using the curb



Here is my last Calif SMOG testing and certification. Note it says my
curb is 5,250 lb and is from the DMV's DB, that has *ALL* of the OEMs
supplied ratings and weights



I could NOT unbolt enough of the options to get my +7,200 lb Sub
down to the OEM listed 'curb'



Another point based on the above is the MTWR (Max Tow Weight Rating)
that folks take out of context all the time. Ditto advisers who like
wise take it out of context

The 'true' MTWR is to take the 16,000 GCWR - ~7,200 actual weight =
8,800 lbs

If you take my 16,000 lb GCWR - 5,250 curb = around 10,000 lb, which
is what the GM Brochures all advertise

BUT, that is still not correct, as I some times have other folks in
the Sub...and/or...luggage and a big ETC. So on those times my true
MTWR is less than the above 8,800 lb




Why always recommend going out and weigh it axle by axle to know where
they are in reference to 'their' true ratings.
-Ben Picture of my rig
1996 GMC SLT Suburban 3/4 ton K3500/7.4L/4:1/+150Kmiles orig owner...
1980 Chevy Silverado C10/long bed/"BUILT" 5.7L/3:73/1 ton helper springs/+329Kmiles, bought it from dad...
1998 Mazda B2500 (1/2 ton) pickup, 2nd owner...
Praise Dyno Brake equiped and all have "nose bleed" braking!
Previous trucks/offroaders: 40's Jeep restored in mid 60's / 69 DuneBuggy (approx +1K lb: VW pan/200hpCorvair: eng, cam, dual carb'w velocity stacks'n 18" runners, 4spd transaxle) made myself from ground up / 1970 Toyota FJ40 / 1973 K5 Blazer (2dr Tahoe, 1 ton axles front/rear, +255K miles when sold it)...
Sold the boat (looking for another): Trophy with twin 150's...
51 cylinders in household, what's yours?...

Volkov
Explorer
Explorer
azwildcat99 wrote:
CliffordG wrote:
If I followed all that correctly your hitch weight is 2,000 lbs or more.


I don't think I was as clear with the numbers as I could have been.

Scale Weights (loaded for camping)
  • Front Axle 4140
  • Rear Axle 4500
  • Trailer Axle 7000
  • Total GCWR 15640


The weights from the scale was with our current truck loaded for camping with passengers. My thoughts were if I was at 6850 unloaded and approx. 8600 loaded in the DMax,wouldn't a burb be about the same, just a little lighter? I figured 6500 unloaded and about 8250 loaded, or 350 under GVWR. Room for a couple kids and still be 100 or so lbs under.

As far as the tongue weight, I was thinking it was closer to 1k with the other 750lbs of payload mentioned above going to passengers and gear. We weigh about 550-600 for all 5 of us.

I think APT is correct and that I'll have to get a tongue weight scale to really know where I stand.

If I went with the older burb it would be a dedicated TV, whereas the newer one would serve double-duty as it would replace the Honda Pilot and my truck. I'd be back down to two cars instead of 3, a Suburban and Nissan Leaf (David and Goliath so to speak).

Thanks for all the responses so far.


That is us. 2500 8.1 Litre and a Prius.
The archived listed spec claims cc for the older 3/4t is about 2300#, but our loaded LT lists only 1930# on the door sticker. Still, just makes it for our family of 6 and 2 dogs and 8k trailer with a little to spare. boys getting a little big for the 3d row now though. May soon consider a used new gen for the better rear row room.

azwildcat99
Explorer
Explorer
I just caught a lead on an 06 4x4 8 pass. cloth with the 8.1, but the yellow sticker lists payload at only 1980. Can that be right? I thought for sure they were all lighter than the newer models. Has anyone actually weighed their TV empty and found the real payload different than the yellow sticker indicates?
2007 GMC Sierra 2500HD CCSB 4X4 D/A
2012 Heartland Prowler 27P BHS
Honda EU2000i

Tystevens
Explorer
Explorer
I wouldn't want someone else's 8+ yr old truck, personally, so that would help make the decision for me.

But none of them are going to pull like your Duramax! You better temper your expectations just a little bit!

Good luck.
2008 Hornet Hideout 27B
2010 Chevy Suburban 1500 LT, Z71 package, 5.3/6A/3.42
2015 Ford F150 XLT Supercrew, 2.7 Ecoboost/6A/3.55 LS

Prior TVs:
2011 Ford F150 Ecoboost 3.5
2006 Chevy Silverado 2500HD Duramax LBZ
2005 Chevy Suburban 1500 4x4 LT, 5.3/4A/4.10

azwildcat99
Explorer
Explorer
Thanks again for all the great responses and good information. ๐Ÿ™‚

My wife and I have been talking it over and given the payload and hitch limitations, I am going to look a little more at the older units. Her concern is safety and being overweight, as we got out of a Sierra 1500 initially for those reasons. If I can find a gently used 8.1 that I can use primarily as a TV, that might be the best option. I'll still have three vehicles, but will be money ahead since it will cost less than my current Duramax to purchase.

Just to see how things handle, I'll be taking my Dad's "new to him" 06 2500HD with the 6.0/4.10 combo up to Sunset Point this weekend towing my trailer. It's a good climb out of Phoenix and should give me a good idea if that combo would be bearable in the Sub. Obviously the 8.1 would be better, but it can't hurt to test it out.

I'll be sure to update the post once we have made our decision.
2007 GMC Sierra 2500HD CCSB 4X4 D/A
2012 Heartland Prowler 27P BHS
Honda EU2000i

tluxon
Explorer
Explorer
Of course I'm biased, but for more than 5 passengers, I can't imagine a better match for the 9000-pound trailer than the "classic" Burb K2500 with the 8.1L and 4.10 axle. We've had ours for 11+ years now and have been thrilled with it all along the way. It's actually not a bad hauler, either, as I can get about 20 sheets of 4x8 plywood in it with the seats down and still close the tailgate.

Our Burb is rated for towing 12,000 pounds with a 150-pound driver and a full tank of gas. It has a 6000-pound rear axle and a payload of over 3000 pounds. True, the tranny is a 4-speed, but I've towed all the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and the Rockies and have never had a problem keeping all our stuff up to speed. As long as I keep it at 60 mph (in Tow-Haul mode) and I'm not going up anything steeper than a common overpass, it stays in overdrive and at a tad under 2100 RPM.

Interestingly, your situation is the opposite of ours. The number of passengers going along on our trips is reducing as our kids reach college age, and we're actually looking a 3500HD Diesels right now because DW would like to move to a fifth wheel when it's mainly just the two of us.

Shortly after we purchased our Burb, one of the concerns I had was that the 8.1L engine would be discontinued, so I was extremely glad I got it when we did. It's not a great commuter vehicle due to the horrible fuel mileage running cold, but for towing it's a very comfortable and powerful beast. Since it's been used largely for towing and vacationing, it also has only 72k miles on it, which may delay how soon we move over to the diesel pickup - unless we find someone who wants the Burb more than we do.
Tim -
wife Beverly & 2 boys who love camping

2002 K2500 Suburban 8.1L 4.10 Prodigy


2005 Sunnybrook 30FKS HP Dual Cam


Replaced 2000 Sunnybrook 26FK on 8/6/04


<>

BenK
Explorer
Explorer
If me, I'd get any with the 8.1L

Look for the F60 option, as that begets the snow plow prep package that also
has 1 ton front springs. I paid IIRC $68 bucks for that option when ordering
my Sub
-Ben Picture of my rig
1996 GMC SLT Suburban 3/4 ton K3500/7.4L/4:1/+150Kmiles orig owner...
1980 Chevy Silverado C10/long bed/"BUILT" 5.7L/3:73/1 ton helper springs/+329Kmiles, bought it from dad...
1998 Mazda B2500 (1/2 ton) pickup, 2nd owner...
Praise Dyno Brake equiped and all have "nose bleed" braking!
Previous trucks/offroaders: 40's Jeep restored in mid 60's / 69 DuneBuggy (approx +1K lb: VW pan/200hpCorvair: eng, cam, dual carb'w velocity stacks'n 18" runners, 4spd transaxle) made myself from ground up / 1970 Toyota FJ40 / 1973 K5 Blazer (2dr Tahoe, 1 ton axles front/rear, +255K miles when sold it)...
Sold the boat (looking for another): Trophy with twin 150's...
51 cylinders in household, what's yours?...

BenK
Explorer
Explorer
Oh, on grinding off the GMT900's receiver bracket...I do NOT recommend that. As
it is part of the crumple zone and the liability is high if you modify it

I'd make a bracket to add any one of the after market receivers of traditional
design

That bracket would be on the outside of the frame rail to interface with the
new after market. 'Stuff' in the way would be the issue.

DO NOT drill on any frame rail flange. Even drilling on the web risky with
today's hydro-formed and tempering they do to gain the strength with the reduced
thickness metal
-Ben Picture of my rig
1996 GMC SLT Suburban 3/4 ton K3500/7.4L/4:1/+150Kmiles orig owner...
1980 Chevy Silverado C10/long bed/"BUILT" 5.7L/3:73/1 ton helper springs/+329Kmiles, bought it from dad...
1998 Mazda B2500 (1/2 ton) pickup, 2nd owner...
Praise Dyno Brake equiped and all have "nose bleed" braking!
Previous trucks/offroaders: 40's Jeep restored in mid 60's / 69 DuneBuggy (approx +1K lb: VW pan/200hpCorvair: eng, cam, dual carb'w velocity stacks'n 18" runners, 4spd transaxle) made myself from ground up / 1970 Toyota FJ40 / 1973 K5 Blazer (2dr Tahoe, 1 ton axles front/rear, +255K miles when sold it)...
Sold the boat (looking for another): Trophy with twin 150's...
51 cylinders in household, what's yours?...

BenK
Explorer
Explorer
GMT400 is my 1996 Suburban's platform...see sig for a pic

Next or NBS to mine is GMT800

Next is NNBS to mine is GMT900

GMT800 has one of the worst receiver designs I've ever seen and should be
replaced with a traditional design receiver

GMT900 has the receiver designed into the bumper system (IMHO, think marketing
forced engineering to 'hide' the receiver so that it doesn't show as much). Since
part of the bumper...it now also has crash crumple responsibilities. Crumple
meaning it is designed to 'crumple during a crash...so there are stress raisers
designed into the bracket between the frame and the bumper cross member (receiver)

That then limits the tongue weight (with WD) to 1,000 lbs

Here is a good site that explains the differences between the various models
of today. Suburban has the longest continuous running model badge in automotive
history. +80 years and is recognized world wide. Other GMC SUV's are also Suburbans
but they changed the name for some reason. Am glad my GMC Suburban is labeled
as a Sub.

Yukon XL is a Suburban. Denali is a trim level for GMC Yukon XL's. Caddy has
the Escalade and is a re-badged Suburban

The AWD (all wheel drive) versions uses a vicious third member (the diff inside
the transfer case) and has reported issues towing heavy.


Chevrolet Suburban

GM GMT platform
-Ben Picture of my rig
1996 GMC SLT Suburban 3/4 ton K3500/7.4L/4:1/+150Kmiles orig owner...
1980 Chevy Silverado C10/long bed/"BUILT" 5.7L/3:73/1 ton helper springs/+329Kmiles, bought it from dad...
1998 Mazda B2500 (1/2 ton) pickup, 2nd owner...
Praise Dyno Brake equiped and all have "nose bleed" braking!
Previous trucks/offroaders: 40's Jeep restored in mid 60's / 69 DuneBuggy (approx +1K lb: VW pan/200hpCorvair: eng, cam, dual carb'w velocity stacks'n 18" runners, 4spd transaxle) made myself from ground up / 1970 Toyota FJ40 / 1973 K5 Blazer (2dr Tahoe, 1 ton axles front/rear, +255K miles when sold it)...
Sold the boat (looking for another): Trophy with twin 150's...
51 cylinders in household, what's yours?...

cjoseph
Explorer
Explorer
the_happiestcamper wrote:
As far as the hitch, I had mine replaced for about $400.


Very difficult to impossible to do with the latest generation 2500 Burb/Yukon XL. The hitch is welded on with what look like crumple zones built in to it. My guess is that you could grind off the old and put on something new, but I don't think the after-market guys are building bolt-ons for this series.

I towed a 7500 lb TT with ours and was OK. I loaded it the best I could with just enough tongue weight to make it stable. Of course, that reduced my use of the front cross-over storage.

If you want to compare, we towed a 2007 Flagstaff 831BHSS.

Our Yukon was a 2008. We towed on the East coast. Pulled it to Disney/Key West twice and in and around the West Virginia hills with no problems.
Chuck, Heidi, Jessica & Nicholas
2013 Tiffin Allegro 35QBA

APT
Explorer
Explorer
You are in a similar position to where I was 2 years ago. Wife wanted the 3 rows of seats to replace our prior crew cab pickup, although far less capable than yours. An older Burb would have been a TV mainly, and newer would be a DD too.

In theory, the 6-spds are a huge game changer (and 8+ hitting the market now too). Despite having less engine torque, the gearing provides more wheel torque. The difference is having to downshift a gear or two to get it vs. the 8.1L and your diesel.



The reality is most people towing with the current gassers and 6-spds are cruising in 5th gear at 2000-2400rpm. Most hills can let the speed drop a little or downshift to 4th gear @ 3000rpm. That's better than prior times when they cruised at 2700rpm and dropped to 2nd gear at 4000rpm.

The 6.0L looks relatively weak compared to competitors gassers, even the half ton tops engines. But it is still strong. It pulls pretty hard over 3500rpm when you want to. It is darn near buulletproof, in production for about 15 years. It's no Duramax, but it does it's job very well. And GM has the highest % of gas sales in its HD trucks compared to Ford/Ram.

We put 21k miles in the first year on our 2011. Over 2600 miles non towing to Disney. 1k miles weekend wedding in TN. FE started at about 12mpg in my mixed commute, 15mpg on the Disney trip, up to 14mpg mixed commuting for my wife and 18mpg highway. I saw 20mpg over 200 miles on a day trip. One month shy of 2 years now, and only 34k miles. It's temporarily turned into a TV and all family vehicle for a little while.

Ride is about the same as my 2003 F-150. The kids and wife all pass out on trips. They only way they know we are towing is turning around to see it. It's easy to drive at or above ST trailer tire speeds, in 100* temps outside and 72* inside. With only 3 kids and 2nd row captain chairs, there is a lot of space for each person to keep the things to occupy their time 3-20 hour trips. With all the time we spend in it, we wanted all the conveniences and luxuries. It's not perfect; It just works. There are competitors with advantages in some areas, but not with the capability for RVing this thing has. If the receiver had 1200-1300 pound rating, I'd be a lot happier recommending it more universally as well as upgrading my own TT. Performance is underrating IMHO. It can whip my 6500-ish pound loaded TT around if I want to. I don't think another 2000-3000 would be a problem at all.

Based on your TT dry published weights and scaled weights, I don't have any problem recommending the 2008+ 3/4 ton Burb/Yuk XL to you. You will be right at the receiver rating as well as GCWR of 16k. But it will perform far better at that limit than any half ton SUV and pickup except a HD payload F-150 Ecoboost with not quite as harsh a ride and as much luxury as you'd like to purchase.
A & A parents of DD 2005, DS1 2007, DS2 2009
2011 Suburban 2500 6.0L 3.73 pulling 2011 Heartland North Trail 28BRS
2017 Subaru Outback 3.6R
2x 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EUV (Gray and Black Twins)

the_happiestcam
Explorer
Explorer
As far as the hitch, I had mine replaced for about $400.
Me ('62), DW ('61), DS ('97), DS ('99), DD ('03)
2003 Yukon XL 2500 8.1L 4.10 axle
2010 Dutchmen 28G-GS

CG's we've been to
   

azwildcat99
Explorer
Explorer
CliffordG wrote:
If I followed all that correctly your hitch weight is 2,000 lbs or more.


I don't think I was as clear with the numbers as I could have been.

Scale Weights (loaded for camping)
  • Front Axle 4140
  • Rear Axle 4500
  • Trailer Axle 7000
  • Total GCWR 15640


The weights from the scale was with our current truck loaded for camping with passengers. My thoughts were if I was at 6850 unloaded and approx. 8600 loaded in the DMax,wouldn't a burb be about the same, just a little lighter? I figured 6500 unloaded and about 8250 loaded, or 350 under GVWR. Room for a couple kids and still be 100 or so lbs under.

As far as the tongue weight, I was thinking it was closer to 1k with the other 750lbs of payload mentioned above going to passengers and gear. We weigh about 550-600 for all 5 of us.

I think APT is correct and that I'll have to get a tongue weight scale to really know where I stand.

If I went with the older burb it would be a dedicated TV, whereas the newer one would serve double-duty as it would replace the Honda Pilot and my truck. I'd be back down to two cars instead of 3, a Suburban and Nissan Leaf (David and Goliath so to speak).

Thanks for all the responses so far.
2007 GMC Sierra 2500HD CCSB 4X4 D/A
2012 Heartland Prowler 27P BHS
Honda EU2000i

Dadoffourgirls
Explorer
Explorer
I agree with APT except for an 8.1 being a superior towing vehicle. It would handle more tongue weight, but I believe that the new model is much more comfortable, and provides better fuel economy when not towing. APT has posted that the 6.0 and 6 sp is a better combination. Additionally, 8.1s will be 8 to 11 years old, and may hit you for maintenance.
Dad of Four Girls
Wife
Employee of GM, all opinions are my own!
2017 Express Ext 3500 (Code named "BIGGER ED" by daughters)
2011 Jayco Jayflight G2 32BHDS