Just in time for the next presidential administration comes a replacement for the fleet of Presidential Motorcade Chevy Suburbans. These presidential limousines age just like all vehicles do, so they are regularly swapped out for newer models. But these new Suburbans have a different look because they feature distinct changes from a regular production Suburban. Being such a visible part of presidential and dignitary traveling they are almost a daily part of the news cycle. So are these new armored Secret Service Suburbans for the incoming Biden administration?
We’re all familiar with “The Beast” the Cadillac-like limo custom built by GM. It has little in common with any other GM products. The Secret Service Suburbans, on the other hand, are built from production models that are then partially stripped down for conversion into the presidential limos.
The new Secret Service replacements are based on the 2014-2020 line of Suburbans
The basis for the previous fleet of presidential Suburbans ended production in 2014. These new replacements are based on the next line of Suburbans which just ended production this year. What’s unusual is that the basis for these limos is the 2500 HD model, which was dropped from the Chevy truck line a few years ago. Even then it was a rare occurrence to see the ¾ ton Suburban as it was only available as a fleet order.
But with the additional equipment necessary to transport the President, foreign dignitaries, and other government officials, the Suburbans need to be able to haul lots of extra weight. There is armor, communications equipment, defensive systems, and other electronics-related components. The specifics related to these features are kept fairly secret.
Whatever the Secret Service needs that isn’t available as some type of option from GM is fitted to the Suburbans. GM handles the conversions and can adapt any electronic component or introduce chassis reinforcement or body modifications. And that leads us to the most visible new change, the raised roofs.
Appearing about a year ago nobody is saying what is housed in the Suburban’s raised top
Appearing about a year ago nobody is saying what is housed in the raised top. It could be for better ingress and egress. Or maybe to house cable or other electrical components that couldn’t be fitted into other parts of the Suburban. It is also possible there is additional armor hidden under that raised top. Since concerns over drones have ramped up in recent years additional armor could be what’s hiding under that top.
An obvious modification that has carried over from previous Suburbans is the bulletproof glass. As it is flat a frame or surround holds the glass in the opening used for the factory glass. The bulletproof glass is sunken into the side windows and is fixed. There’s no rolling down for a bit of fresh air. Some Suburbans in the fleet don’t have this window feature so it is interesting to spot which ones do and don’t have it.
Accommodations are made for the Secret Service Suburbans to be carried on C-17 and C-5 transport planes. The limos are used to haul the President around when in different parts of the world. More of these high-roof Suburbans should be popping up in the future as the older SUVs are replaced.