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  1. #1

    Default Best Burb for an off-road build?

    Yeah, yeah, I know, it's totally subjective, blah blah blah. I just want to see some discussion and maybe see some things I haven't thought about.

    I want to build myself a 4x4 Burb for overland off-road trips. I dont rock crawl and I dont want a ton of lift. It has to be stout, reliable and get somewhat better than 12 mpg. I run the desert, see some water crossings and camp in it. I also need to keep it California smog legal and freeway-safe.

    My build thoughts: Late 90's K2500 with the 454 Vortec (yeah yeah, 7.0 or whatever it is with a towing package. I want to run about 33's or 35's, so the lower gears in the towing package should help. I won't have the fundage to do a 4.10 gear swap up front...tho that is in the plan for later on. I plan electric fans and a snorkle setup (water crossings) some kind of lockers/LSD (I want OC lockers, but again, funds, so I'll likely run what I can get and add the traction aids when I do the gears). I really don't care solid axle vs IFS: I dont rock crawl. I do like to blast the dunes and play in the mud, but I'm getting old and don't like breaking my trucks any more (I've been off-roading for nearly 25 years).

    I know how to build a truck, I just am not familiar with the electronic whiz-dos in the newer rigs and how that may mess with that I want to do. I am also not familiar with the full-size GM trucks as I'm a Jeep guy, so I have no clue what case to look for or what axles are good in the Burbs. (I can talk yer ear off fer days on Jeep swaps tho!)

    Thanks in advance folks!
    1999 Suburban C1500 LS 5.7 K&N filter, VentVisors, debadged aka "LAAT/i...Larty"
    1994 C2500 454. Ex-Forest Service beastie. aka "Redneck"
    2006 Saturn Ion...the Wife's car.
    Empty spot that needs a Jeep...

  2. #2


    You would do well to go with a K2500 w/ the 454 as you had mentioned. The K series trucks are solid and look really sick lifted. If you did all the upgrades that you mentioned, you should have one capable and kick ass truck.
    04 ECSB Custom silver & grey, Soft 8's, BFG KO's, ReadyLift Leveling Kit, Hellwig front sway bar, K&N filter, DeeZee EZ-Down, Rhino liner, Alpine CDE103BT, Rockford 6.5's, 12" V.A.T. Hammer Pro in a Subthump box, Alpine PowerPack amp, Hifonics amp, BackRack w/ 55w 5000k HID KC Daylighters, KC light bar with 4 KC Slimlites, UWS toolbox, Shaved Antenna mod, Black Bowtie, LED backup, license plate, dome lights & 3rd brake light

  3. #3


    I would suggest you go with the 2500 like you are planning so you'll get the 14 bolt rear with the 9.5 inch IFS (since you don't seem to care about the solid front axle which would necessitate going back to '90ish). You can't get any kind of traction aid for the 8.25 front IFS in the half-tons, as they are too weak for the aftermarket to make anything for them. The 14 bolt rear/9.5 inch IFS seems to be pretty stout.
    '98 K1500 Suburban LS 5.7 L 4L60E NV246 ARB
    '92 Ford Explorer XLT 4x4 4.0 L A4LD BW13-54 Trac-loc rear
    "My toys were the greasy cogs and springs and pistons that lay around all over the place, and these, I can promise you, were far more fun to play with than most of the plastic rubbish children are given nowadays." Danny in Roald Dahl's Danny The Champion of the World

  4. #4


    JMO But these beasts are just plain too big and heavy for what most consider off road.
    Where they come in real handy is when you have 6 people that want to get to a more remote campsite. My 7.4 gets 12/13 around town.
    Last edited by Naptime; 11-16-2010 at 09:26 AM.

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by Naptime View Post
    JMO But these beasts are just plain too big and heavy for what most consider off road.
    Where they come in real handy is when you have 6 people that want to get to a more remote campsite. My 7.4 gets 12/13 around town.
    Thats the exact purpose. Scouts and kids (I have 5 of them). Anything more serious is Jeep territory...and I've bashed and broken enough stuff over the years that I'm happy with the mild stuff anymore. If I get a wild-hair again (and I may), I'll build me an off-road only truggy. I want more of an expedition vehicle for geocaching, trips along the Mojave Road, thru Death Valley, Scout camps, etc. That and I found that the rainy season here can strand you in town (or out of town) as the roads can flood three feet deep in places (hence the snorkle!). So, just an all-'round capable 4x4 beast is what I need. I'd love to find a diesel, but not holding my breath on that one. For that kind of money, I'll just get me an old M35 deuce-n-half.

    Fun vid! Thats way out of what I would want to do tho. He's stuck on a wet, muddy slick-rock stair step with full pressure in wet, muddly TSL's. Thats a tough climb for any truck! Especially when you've got two stairs to get up at the same time and no traction at all!
    Last edited by Gryphon; 11-16-2010 at 12:05 PM. Reason: vid comments

  6. #6


    I've seen a big burb have a tough time where it's no sweat for a pretty basic TJ Jeep. But for semi-established trails it's much better in a Suburban. No question. That's why some of us have both!

  7. #7


    Personally, I think the old 80s bodystyle Suburbans are best suited for making into an offroad truck. They usually have the solid front axles that are leaf sprung, and there's oodles of pretty inexpensive lift kits for that bodystyle truck.

    1991 Chevy Suburban 1/2 ton 2WD w/ chevy SBC 350-3/4 ton drivetrain upgrade w/4.10 gears 200K miles
    2005 Saturn ION-2 Stock 277K miles
    1982 Bronco, 1993 Bronco (sold), 1971 M35A2 Deuce and a Half

    There are 10 kinds of people, those who understand binary, and those who dont...

    Remember kids, the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down- Adam Savage

  8. #8

  9. #9


    I'm a fan of square body Suburbans (73 to 91) as pointed out the solid axle trucks can be lifted cheap, they have large wheel wells that can take big tires if you dont want to lift the truck but do want big tires.
    The advantages of 73-91 trucks are basically drivetrain (solid axle) and those large wheel wells.
    The 92 and up trucks have a lot more creature comforts.

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