1997 3/4 Ton GMC Suburban Diesel
Ah, the Suburban of the 90s, that all-American family hauler that crept around the quiet blocks of Suburbia. Bigger and tougher than Ford's Explorer, there really wasn't anything else like it. Square-jawed, no-nonsense and simply styled, they made an instant presence. This was the optimism, power and excess of the post-Cold War Clinton Era bundled into a single vehicle.
GM debuted the much-needed new face of their Chevrolet truck range in the late 80s. They were fresh and bold looking and were an instant hit. It wasn't until 1992 however that the new Suburban came out. It was a huge hit too. I don't remember ever seeing the previous generation. But growing up, the '92 and onward body style was everywhere in my small middle class New England town. They were most often driven by soccer moms but dads weren't self-conscious to drive them, either.
Of course, this was when gas was still hovering around a dollar. There wasn't a worry in the world. So guzzlers like almost all of Chevrolet's trucks were socially acceptable, understood and even respected. But let's face it. Not everybody was doing well then. And even if you were, any responsible mind would cringe at the thought of filling up one of these monsters.
Which is where this particular example comes in. It's the rare diesel version that I didn't even know existed until I stumbled across it deep within the craigslist classifieds. If you know this blog, you know I love diesels. They are rare in passenger cars, but they weren't rare in trucks. They were rare in passenger trucks, however. Chevrolet assumed that mom and dad and five kids didn't worry about fuel efficiency as much as getting to the movie theater on time. But their marketing department thought some head of the household might be, so they sold this GMC diesel version for only two years.
The diesel engine of choice is a huge 6.5-liter V8 turbo diesel that pumped out 310 horsepower. It wasn't any kind of record breaker, but it was strong, torquey, reliable and efficient enough. The seller claims it gets "much better" mileage than the gasoline version, "especially on the highway". Frankly, if you're going to have a huge truck like this, I really have no idea why you wouldn't want anything else other than a diesel for all of those exact reasons mentioned above. Only in the last couple years have diesels in big family trucks thankfully returned, but they are often ridiculously expensive and complicated. Chevy's diesels had a relatively simple fuel system.
The seller says this one comes in SLT trim, so it has cushy leather upholstery, three rows of seats, two batteries and a tow package (and I bet this is a great hauler). They say the mileage is at 173k, nothing surprising. Mechanically, they say it runs and drives great.
If you have a big family but a tight budget or run a airport taxi service, I would absolutely consider this beast. With the 4x4 and diesel, this is a go-anywhere mobile.
Available here on craigslist for $5,200.