Ever since the Hummer went away, America has needed a bloated boathouse of an automobile to take its place on the road. After a week in which the Chevrolet Suburban both notched an ignition switch recall and landed on the short list of Consumer Reports least reliable cars, we feel like we have a contender for the new symbol of automotive excess.
Late October proved unkind to the behemoth, and it started when over 3,000 units of the 2015 model got recalled, as CBS Moneywatch reported, for some of the ignition switch problems that plagued GM for most of 2014. According to reports, the issue could cause the engine to shut off, leading to the failure of power brakes, power steering, and possibly even airbags inside the vehicle.
The following week, Consumer Reports named it one of the five least reliable cars on the market after taking its annual survey of readers. Complaints about the Suburban ranged from problems with four-wheel drive, non-working GPS antennas, and faulty navigation systems to annoyances with power mirrors and plastic door panels.
For those unfamiliar with the Suburban, it’s the full-size SUV that seats up to eight people, gets a combined 12 miles per gallon when running on E85 fuel (18 for regular gas), and starts at a base price of $49,000 for the two-wheel-drive model. Chevy has averaged about 4,000 sales a month in 2015, down 7.4% compared to 2014.
But what it’s more famous for is the excess it symbolizes on the road. If you’ve ever tried to see past this car while driving, you know it’s next to impossible.
Of course, one of America’s most off-putting fictional characters used to call it his car of choice. You may recall Tony Soprano chomping on a cigar as he rolls down the Jersey turnpike in the opening credits of HBO’s The Sopranos. True to form, the mob boss was rarely ever seen transporting anyone inside the behemoth as he makes the rounds at the Bing and other stops on his daily commute.
For all its brawn and space-taking features, Suburban is certainly not the safest vehicle on the road, either. In rollover crash tests, regulators awarded it three out of five stars, which led to the overall four-star rating. Bigger doesn’t mean safer in cases like this one.
Come to think of it, we have a hard time seeing exactly what appeal this SUV has in 2015. It’s got a good chance of being recalled, was named one of the least reliable vehicles on the road, and doesn’t do much for families if (God forbid) they find themselves in a rollover situation. It’s awfully hard to think of a bigger symbol of automotive excess on the road today. The Hummer may be gone, but Suburban remains to carry the torch.