Chevrolet Suburban Luggage Test: How much fits behind the third row?

From the very beginning of doing these luggage tests, I specifically had no intention of doing one for the Chevy Suburban or any extended-length full-size SUVs. Quite simply, there was no question that my six suitcases were going to fit behind the third row. And not only that, I was pretty confident there'd be a ton of space left over, much as there is in mid- and full-size two-row SUVs.

And yet, you know what vehicle I've received more requests for cargo-related information about over the years? That's right, the Chevrolet Suburban. Sure, it's not exactly BTS fan mail volumes, but it's more than anything else. Apparently, people want to know how much fits in the back of a Suburban (or GMC Yukon XL ... or Cadillac Escalade ESV). So, when a Suburban popped up in the press fleet I decided to finally give the people what they want.

As a reminder, this is the amount of cargo space behind the THIRD row of a Suburban. Chevrolet says this is 41.5 cubic feet, and it sure looks like it.

For the record, the most stuff I've ever put into the back of a three-row vehicle is a Honda Odyssey, which has 32.8 cubic feet of space. I never did another minivan after that, for reasons effectively described above. And no one has asked for it.

Now, because I'm greedy, I lifted up the floor to see if there's any underfloor space. Wow, there is! Theoretically, it could lower the floor a bit and allow for even more stuff, but the floor's hinges don't allow it. Unlike those in a BMW that can be propped into an upright position, these'll just drop the floor back down again. That's OK, I won't use this then.

Let's get to the bags. As with every Luggage Test, I use two midsize roller suitcases that would need to be checked in at the airport (26 inches long, 16 wide, 11 deep), two black roll-aboard suitcases that just barely fit in the overhead (24L x 15W x 10D), and one smaller green roll-aboard that fits easily (23L x 15W x 10D). I also include my wife's fancy overnight bag just to spruce things up a bit (21L x 12W x 12D).

So yeah, it all fits. No surprise there. In fact, there's even more room leftover than I anticipated.

Let's go to the extra (and imaginary) items, then!

First up, the trusty 38-quart Coleman cooler. This added to my bags, plus maybe a duffle bag, is what big "compact" SUVs like the Kia Sportage and Toyota RAV4 can manage. It's also the extra stuff I managed to fit inside the Odyssey, so we already have a new three-row luggage test winner and it's not even close.

Furthermore, there's obviously still room left over.

Rather than stuffing a whole bunch of random crap from my garage inside that wouldn't be useful to anyone ("Hey, a Cozy Coupe fits!"), I decided to turn to the wonders of Photoshop to clone my three roll-aboards. There is no trickery here, though. A second set of my exact same bags would fit without issue. I lined them up with a spot on the bottom, closed the gate with them placed on each side, it worked.

As such, what fits inside the Suburban are ... two midsize roller suitcases that would need to be checked in at the airport (26 inches long, 16 wide, 11 deep), four black roll-aboard suitcases that just barely fit in the overhead (24L x 15W x 10D), two smaller green roll-aboards that fit easily (23L x 15W x 10D), my wife's fancy overnight bag (21L x 12W x 12D) and the 38-quart Coleman cooler.

In other words, that's eight suitcases for seven people plus an overnight bag and a cooler. Think that should probably handle it, eh?

Now, you might be wondering, how does this compare to a Chevy Tahoe?

GM says the Tahoe has 25.5 cubic-feet of space behind its third row. I say it can hold everything but the fancy bag. That's very good, although the Jeep Wagoneer bests it within the segment.

Given this, if you plan to routinely use the third row (and if not, why are you buying something as enormous as a full-size SUV???), the only reason I see to choose a Tahoe over the Suburban is because your garage or driveway is too small. If you're going jumbo, why not go all the way? It's also only a $3,000 premium, which by car options standards on something costing nearly $60,000 is chump change.

So that's how much a Suburban can hold. You're welcome.

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