The PMD (Pump Mounted Driver) location is a notorious flaw of 6.5L diesels, but it is easily cured by easy to install kits from several reputable aftermarket vendors. Even when relocated to a cooler location (heat kills it, and GM thought it wise to mount it in the engine valley where temps get very high), it is smart to have a spare on hand ($250).
The front differential 4WD actuator is also a flawed design because it is thermal-actuated. Problem is, when you need FWD it is often in snow, crossing water, or in cold weather, which causes the actuator to not engage. Whoops! Not sure what the GM engineers were thinking on this design. Fortunately, it too is easily corrected by aftermarket vendors.
The airbox is also quite restricted in stock form. And the stock exhaust is probably too restrictive too. Generally, mods to increase airflow to the turbo are a good idea, so long as you don't sacrifice proper air filtering.
The 6.5 doesn't lend itself to huge HP and torque gains without sacrificing durability -- a strong suit of this engine. Properly serviced, they can go well over 300K miles, even 500K!
This is supremely versatile vehicle. It handles surprisingly well for its size, has a tight turning radius (far tighter than my 94 Pathfinder), and is surprisingly nimble and easy to drive.
The 6.5 turbo diesel gives it a long range and exceptional fuel economy when driven conservatively; around 2000 to 2200 RPMs, the sweet spot for the 6.5. Fuel economy oddly is not linked to how heavy the vehicle is loaded up or if it is even towing a light trailer. I can get 19 or 20 MPG on the freeway whether I have 11 people inside with all their gear, or if it is just myself.
Regarding the 11 person capacity, I added a high quality fourth row bench facing rearwards, in order to add belted seating for three kiddos, who love sitting back there (the favorite spot for kids). This makes the Suburban the ultimate kid hauler.
I've never had a better SUV. Good luck finding diesel Subs though. GM only made them between 1994 and 1999. They are fairly scarce in good condition.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 30th May, 2012