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Old 10-14-2002, 01:40 PM   #1
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Chevy Express vs Suburban

Any opinions on suitability of the Chevy Express van vs the Suburban (both 3/4 ton) as a tow vehicle for a 25 ft Sovereign (approx wt. 6,000 lb)?

For 2003, the powertrain is the same (6.0). The Suburban benefits from the 4x4 low range for manuevering while the van offers much more interior space (I can put the bikes inside). The van is also much less expensive upfront.
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Old 10-14-2002, 03:14 PM   #2
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Chevrolet Express vs Suburban

Greetings Alan!

This is one of those areas where it is a personal preference decision. I have towed with a GMC 2500 Vandura as well as a K2500 GMC Suburban.

I have a strong preference for the Suburban as it seems to be much more substantially constructed. After only 45,000 miles, the van was full of rattles and squeaks and it was ready for more than $750.00 in suspension and chasis work at that time. In addition, the van had a huge blind spot on the right hand side that was a constant concern even with large convex mirror added. The van also suffered from very poor heating and cooling operation - - the rearmost passengers always made mention that it was hot back there in the Summer and cold back there in the Winter. I also was not impressed by the vans susceptibility to strong side winds - - it was quite readily blown about by even modest wind gusts.

My Suburban now has over 94,000 miles and is absolutely quiet on the highway - - no squeaks or rattles, minimal road noise from the suspension, and a climate control system that satisfies all passengers. My passengers typically comment about how comfortable the Suburban is even after trips of 300 miles or more. It is equipped with the premium 8-passenger leather interior and premium sound deadening package. It has been a very economical vehicle given its mass - - the only large repair expenditures have been $750.00 for a major brake overhaul at 70,000 miles and a major tuneup ($250.00) at 82,000 miles. Other than those two repairs it has been regular oil changes and lube jobs and one set of tires - - expect to have to replace tires at about 107,000 miles. The Suburban's greatest drawback is lack of space for additional recreation equipment such as bicycles, but it is an extremely comfortable and pleasant road vehicle.

My Suburban endeared itself to me when three semis boxed me in and forced me into a construction zone barricade. The Suburban handled the emergency situation and with its long front hood I felt a bit more secure when the barrells hit the front of the vehicle and bounced off to the side. The four wheel ABS was nice as well - - but I know that vans have that feature today as well.

Good luck with your decision.

Kevin
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Old 10-26-2002, 07:50 PM   #3
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Suburban

Made the choice today. I now have a 03 3/4 ton Suburban.
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Old 10-27-2002, 12:28 PM   #4
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Chevy Express vs Suburban

Greetings Alan!

Congratulations on your acquisition. I am sure that you will get many miles of pleasure from your Suburban. My '99 has been an absolute pleasure to own and drive from day one. The Suburban may command a premium price, but for me, it has proven to be a sound investment.

Enjoy your new Suburban!

Kevin
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Old 10-27-2002, 04:45 PM   #5
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alan,
Which engine and rearend ratio did you get? I'm sure you will like you Suburban as much as I like my 2500HD ext. cab 4X4.
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Old 10-27-2002, 07:01 PM   #6
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Suburban

The engine is the 6.0 and the rear end is the 3.73. I also considered the 2500HD, but wanted to be able to travel with 4 adults on occasion.

My initial impressions are very favorable. The suspension is "firm", but not overly stiff. I think stability will be good when towing.
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Old 10-28-2002, 10:13 AM   #7
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alan,
That combination should do fine with your 25' Sovereign and still get respectable gas mileage when not towing. If you travel where there are hills, let me know how the 6.0 and 3.73 deal with them.
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Old 07-27-2003, 03:00 PM   #8
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2003 Suburban

Well, this has been a long time in preparation, but I finally picked up the "new" 1985 25 ft. Sovereign in Michigan the first week in July and towed it to Bellingham, WA by way of Yellowstone and the Sawtooths in Idaho. The Suburban (6.0 liter, 3.73 rear) did an excellent job. I towed at 60 mph in 3rd (2500 rpm) for the whole trip. Towing mpg averaged 11.7 mpg, with little variation. On the steeper grades (6% or higher), speed would drop back to about 45 mph at about 1/2 throttle. Otherwise, it maintained 60 mph through rolling terrain with no strain.

The transmission in the 3/4 ton Suburban generally stays in torque converter lockup regardless of load until speed drops below about 45 mph. I found that if I let off on the throttle as speed was falling below 55 mph or so on the steeper grades (and then reapplied throttle), it would go out of lockup and give torque multiplication for improved performance. Applying too much throttle only forces a 3 - 2 downshift which isn't necessary.

By the way, outside temperatures were 95F or higher for the whole trip, so the AC was running continuously as well as the engine cooling fan, so I think the fuel economy was quite good. Maximum transmission temperature was 200F briefly on only 2 hills. Otherwise it ran about 180F.
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Old 07-27-2003, 04:38 PM   #9
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"I finally picked up the "new" 1985 25 ft. Sovereign"

Let me congradulate you on your choice. Clearly you are possessed of both taste and discernment!

Mark
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