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Discussion Starter #1
Checked out some vehicles today and wondered what y'all know about the reliability of the various powertrains. Consumer Reports only rates Suburban / Yukon XL 1500 models, and they tend to claim "not enough data to rate" on Escalade.

Today I looked at a 2004 Suburban 2500 (6.0 engine), a 2008 Escalade ESV (6.2 engine, I believe), and a 2012 Suburban 1500 (5.3 engine). I would imagine that with three different engines, there are three different reliability profiles.

Also, the transmissions have gone through revisions. I wouldn't give two thumbs up to the 4-speed automatic found in the 1999 and earlier Suburban and its relatives, because the one in our Tahoe gave out completely at 167K miles and they told me at the shop that it had nylon gears. (I don't see why they'd have lied to me about that.) After that, they used a 5-speed, then a 6-speed. I hear that Escalades of recent years have an 8-speed.

I've also seen hybrid versions of these vehicles, though not many of them. I know nothing of their reliability. Some of the engines were fitted with Active Fuel Management (probably cylinder deactivation) - how well that system worked, and whether or not it tended to require costly repairs, would also factor into reliability.

Which engine and transmission combination is known to be the most reliable in the long run? (Consider everything, including how long they last and how expensive they are to repair / replace / overhaul. Mathematically, a transmission known to blow around 200K and cost $3K to replace is better than one that usually makes it to 250K but costs $5K to replace.)
 

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There's a lot more to consider here than reliability. The 1500s will ride much better than the 2500s. If you're looking as old as the 800s (the 04), the individual vehicle condition will be much more important than which drivetrain. If you can afford as new as a 12, you have no business looking at 09 and older. The newest vehicle on your list is still 10 years old, so condition of the specific vehicle you get is most important. ALL used vehicles have risks and ALL models can have their most reliable parts fail and their most troublesome parts last forever. Always a crap shoot.
 

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There's a lot more to consider here than reliability. The 1500s will ride much better than the 2500s. If you're looking as old as the 800s (the 04), the individual vehicle condition will be much more important than which drivetrain. If you can afford as new as a 12, you have no business looking at 09 and older. The newest vehicle on your list is still 10 years old, so condition of the specific vehicle you get is most important. ALL used vehicles have risks and ALL models can have their most reliable parts fail and their most troublesome parts last forever. Always a crap shoot.
Actually I do have to consider reliability. I'm the kind of guy who will go anywhere in the country to get the right vehicle if I find something I should get. I know that overall condition matters, but if I get something that's in good overall condition but is a POS, it hardly matters that it's in good overall condition. The Tahoe was in great condition for its age and had less miles than its age would suggest, when I got it... but it nickel-and-dimed me to death and ultimately cost a fortune when its transmission went at 167K miles. Looking back, I see that Consumer Reports rated it pretty horribly for reliability, especially in the areas where I had trouble with mine.

So, for example, if I could find an example in good condition of any year with any powertrain (which I can, if I look hard enough and am willing to go anywhere to get it), that drops the "overall condition of the vehicle" out of consideration and makes it important to know which powertrains are preferable.

As for what I can afford, I've never been the type to buy what I can afford. I buy the cheapest vehicle that will suit my purposes, that gives the appearance of being able to last a long time. At times that's been a $500 "beater", at times a several-thousand-dollar "nice used vehicle", and at times a new one from the dealer's lot.

I think of it like this - if 2012 was such a great year for the Suburban, then did everyone who bought a brand new Suburban in 2000 or 2006 or 2009 get shafted? If I must get a 2012 or so because it's the most reliable, then I will... but there are other things I wasn't nuts about when I looked at it. I'll have to make a different thread about at least one of them, but I do recall not feeling anything negative when I sat in the rear seat of the 2004 Suburban. When I sat in the rear seat of the 2008 Escalade and 2012 Suburban, I felt that it was flat and uncomfortable. Since the adult who isn't driving will be sitting in that rear seat, and since we drive a lot, it's an important consideration. Therefore, I can't look at just the year of the vehicle. I have to look at all aspects.
 

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Fair enough. In the other thread you said you do a lot of winter driving and need 4wd/AWD. What are some other criteria? There are many, many AWD vehicles out there that have overall average reliability better than any Suburban based vehicle. If you need a big SUV with the most reliability, the Toyota Land Cruiser is an amazing vehicle. If you don't NEED a big SUV, that opens up a whole world of other options.

As to your Hoe that nickel and dimed you to death, that can happen with any of these vehicles you've looked at. A CPO would alleviate most of your fears if you don't want to buy new.
 

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Fair enough. In the other thread you said you do a lot of winter driving and need 4wd/AWD. What are some other criteria? There are many, many AWD vehicles out there that have overall average reliability better than any Suburban based vehicle. If you need a big SUV with the most reliability, the Toyota Land Cruiser is an amazing vehicle. If you don't NEED a big SUV, that opens up a whole world of other options.
We need three rows. We have two rear-facing car seats and we don't want to keep the kids mesmerized with some stupid screen-based entertainment system in the car. Look out the damn window; that's what we did as kids and it was perfectly fine. Kids get too much screen time these days as it is.

So the plan is to have one car seat in the middle row, one in the back row, and the passenger in the back row. That way the passenger can see, and interact with, both kids. Right now we have a 4Runner that ostensibly fits everyone, but we don't like being in front while the kids are in back, unable to interact with us and too young to have meaningful interactions with each other. It's unwise in a vehicle with airbags to put a car seat in front, so that won't work either.

We're considering a minivan as well, but it seems that we ought to get both. With how much driving we do, having only one vehicle seems to be unintelligent. If something happens, and it will (deer collision if nothing else, been there), we don't want to be relying upon a rental vehicle that we'll mess up since we have a lot of equipment and two kids. And if one has to leave for some reason, we don't want to stick the other at home with no vehicle.

As to your Hoe that nickel and dimed you to death, that can happen with any of these vehicles you've looked at. A CPO would alleviate most of your fears if you don't want to buy new.
Except the fear of a huge car payment that restricts my freedom by mandating extra work from me, for many years. Since I cannot predict the future, I'd rather not mortgage it any more than is absolutely necessary.
 

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I had an 02 Suburban 1500 LS. Engine was running fine at 200,000 plus miles when I sold it but it was on its 4th transmission. I sold it because I needed a 2500 to pull a camper we bought. But a 99 K2500 with the 454 and loved it. Truck was solid except it leaked oil from everywhere. I got tired a replacing seals and sold it. Now I have an 06 Suburban 2500 with the 8.1 and 4:10 rear end. Found it on CarStory up in VA and I love it. Super solid engine and transmission.
 

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I had an 02 Suburban 1500 LS. Engine was running fine at 200,000 plus miles when I sold it but it was on its 4th transmission. I sold it because I needed a 2500 to pull a camper we bought. But a 99 K2500 with the 454 and loved it. Truck was solid except it leaked oil from everywhere. I got tired a replacing seals and sold it. Now I have an 06 Suburban 2500 with the 8.1 and 4:10 rear end. Found it on CarStory up in VA and I love it. Super solid engine and transmission.
What's the difference between the transmission on your 2002 1500 model and your 2006 2500 model? (I was under the impression that they used a 5-speed auto for that entire generation. Did its specs vary between the 1500 and 2500 models? Also, I'd love to hear the kind of gas mileage you get with that 8.1 engine under non-towing circumstances. I guess I forgot about that one when I listed engines for this thread.)
 

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I get 11.3 per gallon according to my HUD screen. My 1500 had the 4L60E which I thought was crap. But have heard from others who were very pleased with them. The 2500 Burb I have has the 4L85E which goes with the 8.1L. The 6.0L 2500 comes with the 4L80E. I don’t know what the difference is between the two. Maybe something with handling the higher torque put out by the 8.1L.
 

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I get 11.3 per gallon according to my HUD screen. My 1500 had the 4L60E which I thought was crap. But have heard from others who were very pleased with them. The 2500 Burb I have has the 4L85E which goes with the 8.1L. The 6.0L 2500 comes with the 4L80E. I don’t know what the difference is between the two. Maybe something with handling the higher torque put out by the 8.1L.
That exactly. My 8.1 had the trans replaced at 100k, but the original owner was a roofing contractor and may very well have pulled a heavy trailer and not cared for it the best. That's just a guess as there was another owner between him and me. I also bought the 2500 8.1 to pull a camper. It does that extremely well but sucks gas and rides rougher than a 1500 would. I would never recommend a 2500 for someone who doesn't need the extra capacity.
 

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That exactly. My 8.1 had the trans replaced at 100k, but the original owner was a roofing contractor and may very well have pulled a heavy trailer and not cared for it the best. That's just a guess as there was another owner between him and me. I also bought the 2500 8.1 to pull a camper. It does that extremely well but sucks gas and rides rougher than a 1500 would. I would never recommend a 2500 for someone who doesn't need the extra capacity.
I have a 2006 1500 extended cab,4x4.Bought it new,has 135000 miles on it.It's got a few "quirks"because of its age.But,knock on wood,it still keeps going,,,My point is,that you can drive yourself nuts trying to figure out which vehicle is best for you.We all would like to have something that goes anywhere an army tank will go,and gets the mileage of a vw beetle.But lets face reality.We all want something dependable,comfortable,and cheap to run.When ya get a good one,ya try to keep it forever.Sadly,we all look at the new fancy sparkling vehicles that shine like diamonds in a goats a--.But we wake up and realize that they ALL look great when somebody else is making the payments.But when ya get to the age where social security,and insurance mandates what you can,or cannot afford.I guess what I am saying is that I finally realize my dad was right years ago when he said"The grass is always greener on the other side,but it has to get mowed".
 

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I am currently in a 1500 05 Escalade ESV. It has the 6.0 and I think the 4L65E trans. I got it with 152K on it. I'm closing in on 160K now. The second row seats are very comfortable being heated and vented, I'm not sure about the 3rd row for an adult. If I drive it conservatively I average 18, long trips 20, towing a 4K lb trailer 14, and typical mixed driving 16. I lucked into this Escalade and was able to watch it perform for 6 months, then I had a month to test drive it before I decided it should live at my house. I know typically that isn't how it works, but it made the decision making so much easier. It has needed a lot of smaller cosmetic things to bring it back to it's luxury state, it showed signs of a neglectful owner. Overall, I like it much more than I figured I would. I had planned to use it for a year and sell it, but I like it enough now I have decided it's worth bring it back to it's former glory and driving it until I can't drive anymore. My biggest concern is the trans taking a dump, but I like the rest of it enough that if that happens, I'll spend the right amount of money and get a bulletproof trans built by a reputable source. Having a vehicle I can count on that's on the better end of the SUV economic scale will be well worth the price.
 
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