Comparing the 2016 Chevy Suburban to The 1986 Model

Vehicle comparisons are fun because they help us understand how vehicles have evolved. Comparing the 2016 Chevy Suburban 1500 LS 4WD to the 1986 Chevy Suburban K10 4WD:

  • The newest Suburban has a lot more power than the old one
  • The newest Suburban is very similar in terms of size and capability
  • The newest Suburban costs almost twice as much as the 1986 model, even after we adjust for inflation

See the comparison chart below:

2016 Chevy Suburban vs 1986 Chevy Suburban Comparison Chart

While it's easy to be frustrated by the 2016 model's dramatically higher pricing (yet similar capability), there are a few things to point out that aren't in our chart.

First, the new Suburban is much, much safer than the 1986 model. It's not really possible to compare them directly (crash test ratings from 1986 aren't available), but suffice to say the newest Suburban is much safer in a collision. The 2016 Suburban also offers collision avoidance technologies that weren't even technically feasible in 1986. Basically, safety is vastly improved.

Second, while the fuel economy has "only" increased 4mpg, that's a pretty big jump as a percentage (about 40%). This improvement reduces the monthly cost of driving the 2016 Suburban about $85 a month relative to the 2016 model, assuming gas costs $2.50 a gallon and a person drives 15,000 miles per year. It also means the vehicle pollutes less now that it did 30 years ago (quite a bit less, in fact).

Three, the newest Suburban is much nicer than the 1986 model. It's quieter, rides smoother, handles and stops better, accelerates and tows more confidently, etc. It's also easier to drive, which is no small thing when we're talking about a nearly 6,000lbs vehicle.

Basically, Chevrolet deserves a lot of credit for building a modern version of the 1986 Suburban that is safer, more fuel efficient, and better overall.