Avoid the 2011 Chevy Suburban if You Want Low Maintenance Costs

Although some used cars are seeing price hikes, pre-owned cars are generally a cheaper alternative to new models. Some big SUVs, such as the Chevy Suburban, only suffer from minimal power loss over the years. Still, the Suburban typically isn’t regarded as highly reliable.

According to Consumer Reports, this full-size SUV is one of the most expensive vehicles to maintain. Owners reported paying an average of $900 yearly for repairs, nearly twice that of other SUVs. The 2011 Chevy Suburban‘s purchase price may be affordable, but is it worth the hassle?

Trouble spots in the 2011 Chevy Suburban

A burgendy 2011 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ full-size SUV parked on gravel in front of misty mountains
2011 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ | Chevrolet

Owners told Consumer Reports that the 2011 Chevy Suburban is prone to major engine problems. One driver reported that oil started leaking at around 50,000 miles, an issue present in the 2009 Chevy Suburban too. Models from this generation sometimes developed excessive oil consumption with no sign of leakage. A few drivers even reported their car’s engine died in the middle of a drive.

The 2011 Suburban also has unreliable brakes. Dealers confirmed for one driver that the passenger brake went out prematurely, as did the master cylinder. The calipers are also prone to seizing up and causing severe damage to other components.

Problems have also been reported with major drivetrain components like the accelerator pedal. The transfer case might die early in the Suburban’s lifespan, around 72,000 miles. Multiple drivers also reported that the headlights and daytime running lights frequently needed replacing.

In addition to needing multiple repairs, some problems are difficult to fix in the first place. One driver said that when the car’s spark plugs died, they were hard to access for removal and replacement.

Even the outside seems to be sloppily constructed, with multiple drivers reporting peeling paint and exterior moldings. One driver even reported that all four of the door handles fell off because of faulty hardware. Another said the tailgate randomly refused to open, sometimes exacerbated by cold weather.

2011 Chevy Suburban complaints from Consumer Reports

As you might expect from such a large vehicle, the 2011 Chevy Suburban isn’t easy to handle. During CR’s avoidance maneuver test, the SUV quickly avoided obstacles but not as gracefully as rivals. But fortunately, the steering wheel isn’t too heavy; however, CR would’ve appreciated a little more feedback from it.

The 2011 Suburban’s 320-hp V8 powers the SUV nicely, though it needs some time to accelerate from a stop. However, CR found it slows down quite a bit when towing a trailer. The fuel economy is also disappointing at 14 mpg combined city/highway.

Plus, the driver’s seat is awkwardly positioned, with no footrest and a rigid steering wheel that lacks telescoping. The roof pillars in the back greatly hinder visibility, especially with big headrest cushions on the passenger seats. Some drivers might benefit from the optional rearview camera available on some models. However, it’s a relatively rare feature that takes 10 seconds to boot up.

What does CR like about the 2011 model?

Though the 2011 Chevy Suburban suffers from dull handling, the ride is surprisingly agreeable. No harsh jolts permeate the interior, and noise levels are pleasantly low. CR also appreciated the roominess and impressive towing capacity.

This 2011 Suburban is considerably cheaper than the 2021 model, which starts at $52,300. Consumer Reports says shoppers can find a fully loaded 2011 Suburban for as little as $22,000. 

However, the 2011 model also has a much lower customer satisfaction rating, probably due to frequent repairs. So if you’re looking for a large SUV, check out the Chevy Tahoe instead, one of the least expensive SUVs to maintain.

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