6 American SUVs That Still Feature Body-on-Frame Construction
Six American heavy hitters in an overcrowded segmentby Kirby Garlitos, on
There once was a time when body-on-frame SUVs were common sights. But with the advent of unibody car-based bodies, we don’t see too many of the old body-on-frame SUVs anymore. There are still some SUVs in the market whose bodies and frames are two separate entities, so it’s not like you’re absent of any choices if this is the kind of SUV you want. The Cadillac Escalade, Jeep Wrangler, GMC Yukon, Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Chevrolet Suburban are still considered body-on-frame SUVs, making them extremely useful in the outdoors. So what exactly do these six SUVs have to offer? Read on and find out.
The Cadillac Escalade is one of the most recognizable SUVs in the market
The Cadillac Escalade is one of the most recognizable SUVs in the market. In some ways, it’s become the celebrity of the bunch, a byproduct of so many celebrities owning or having owned an Escalade at some point in the past. Beyond its stature, the Escalade is also a proven commodity. It has one of the most high-end cabins in its segment. It also has a good amount of cargo space — 15.2 cubic feet — behind the third-row seats. In total, the Escalade can open up as much as 94.2 cubic feet in space, a good number for its class, though not the best.
Power comes from a brawny 6.2-liter V-8 unit that produces 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. Having that engine helps the Escalade in a lot of ways. Speed doesn’t seem to be an issue, even for a model that has a curb weight approaching 6,000 pounds. In fact, the Escalade can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, though top speed is limited to 112 mph. The Escalade isn’t a slouch in towing capacity, either. As long as its properly equipped, it can tow as much as 8,300 pounds. Pricing for the Cadillac Escalade starts at $75,990.
Read our full review on the 2018 Cadillac Escalade.
The Jeep Wrangler seems out-of-place on this list by virtue of its size
The Jeep Wrangler seems out-of-place on this list by virtue of its size, but since it’s one of the few models that still have a body-on-frame construction, we’re going to include it, for as long you recognize that the Wrangler falls short in a lot of comparable features because it’s not as big as the other models on this list. If you can get past that, you might end up liking the Wrangler for what it is: a heavy-duty, go-anywhere off-roader.
The Wrangler gets its power from a 3.6-liter V-6 that delivers 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It’s not on par with what the rest of the SUVs on this list are capable of, but it’s good enough for its size. Cargo space is also limited to just 13 cubic-feet of space and 47 cubic-feet when the rear seats are folded. You can opt for the four-door Unlimited version because it has almost 32 cubic-feet in space and 72 cubic-feet when the rear seats are folded. That should be enough to store a bike or skis, as well as usual camping and beach items like a tent, cooler, and bench chairs. Towing capacity is abysmal at just 2,000 pounds for the two-door model and 3,500 pounds for the four-door. Still, you’re not buying the Wrangler because it’s a hauler. There are other SUVs that do better jobs at that. You’re buying the Wrangler because as an off-road vehicle, there are few models in any segment that can compete with it. Pricing is also favorable to the Wrangler, at least compared to other models on this list. The base model starts at $27,495, and depending on the trim level you choose, it can go up to as high as $40,000.
Read our full review on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler.
4. GMC Yukon
The GMC Yukon is one of the few full-sized SUVs that can compete with the Cadillac Escalade in interior refinement
The GMC Yukon is one of the few full-sized SUVs that can compete with the Cadillac Escalade in interior refinement. Ok, that’s not necessarily why the Yukon made it on this list, but it’s one of the things that stand out about it. The Yukon has earned a reputation for being a multitasking machine, and for good reason. It has enough space to seat up to eight people. It has a maximum towing capacity of 8,100 pounds. It even moves particularly well relative to its size. For that, the Yukon can thank a pair of V-8 engines, including a 5.2-liter small block that has 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. Opt for the bigger 6.2-liter unit — it’s the same one that the Escalade has — and you’re getting 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque out of it.
Just like the Escalade, the Yukon’s cargo space is very limited when all the seats are upright. There’s only 13 cubic-feet of space to work with, which is good enough for a handful of suitcases. But space opens up when the rear seats are folded as there’s as much as 94.7 cubic-feet of space available. Opt for the XL version of the SUV and you’re looking at 39.3 cubic-feet of space behind the rear seats and an impressive 121.7 cubic-feet when the seats are folded. One other downside to the Yukon is its high cargo floor. It may not be much of an issue for tall people, but for the rest of us, that high cargo floor makes it a little bit more difficult to load and load cargo. Depending on the trim you choose — SLE, SLT, or Denali — the Yukon’s price tag can range from $49,100 to $66,200.
Read our full review on the 2018 GMC Yukon.
The Ford Expedition has been rated the number one large SUV in the market for good reason
The name says it all, doesn’t it? The Ford Expedition has been rated the number one large SUV in the market for good reason. It has a powerful engine, lots of cargo space, and an upscale cabin with enough features to make your head dizzy. All of that comes at a price, sure, but if you’re paying for the best, the Expedition is usually one of the best choices.
Let’s start with power. The massive Ford SUV comes with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 375 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. It falls short on this end compared to the Escalade and the Yukon, but you can opt for the 400-horsepower Platinum model and mitigate a bit of that disadvantage. Fortunately for the Expedition, it beats its rivals in cargo space, and quite handily, too. There’s 20 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, enough room to accommodate as many as 12 to 14 pieces of carry-on luggage. Drop the rear seats entirely and you open up more than 100 cubic-feet space, which should be enough to store just about anything that can fit inside the cargo opening. If those numbers are still inadequate, you can opt for the long-wheelbase Expedition Max, which has 36 cubic-feet of cargo space and a maximum capacity of more than 120 cubic-feet.
Outside of having one of the highest cargo spaces in the segment, the Expedition also has the muscle to beat out its rivals in maximum towing capacity. When properly equipped, Ford’s large SUV can tow as much as 9,300 pounds, or roughly the equivalent of a trailer with a decent-sized boat on top of it. Needless to say, those interested in a Ford Expedition should know that its advantages come at a price, literally. The Expedition starts at $51,800 and that price could swell up to $80,000 if you decide to load up on all of the features available to the SUV.
Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Expedition.
2. Chevy Tahoe
It scores well in terms of engine power, interior space, and a slightly lower cost compared to its main rivals, the Ford Expedition and the Cadillac Escalade
The Chevrolet Tahoe checks a lot of boxes as far as a full-sized SUV is concerned. Unfortunately, like almost all SUVs of its size, it has a few drawbacks, too. It scores well in terms of engine power, interior space, and a slightly lower cost compared to its main rivals, the Ford Expedition and the Cadillac Escalade. The Tahoe’s engine is proof that it isn’t messing around. It comes with the same 6.2-liter V-8 that the Escalade and GMC Yukon have, sizeable enough to produce 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque.
In terms of interior space, the Tahoe comes with standard eight-person seating, though if you can configure it properly, you can add an extra person without compromising on comfort. That’s a by-product of having spacious front and second-row seats. The third row isn’t as spacious, but that’s usually the case with most SUVs of its kind. The Tahoe doesn’t have as much cargo space as the Expedition, but the 15.3 cubic-foot of space is still a tad better than some rivals. You can also configure how much space you need by dropping the second-row seats and getting 51.7 cubic-feet of space. That, or you can go all-out and drop all three rows to get 94.7 cubic-feet of cargo space. If there is a drawback to the Tahoe, it’s that the high cargo floor can be a chore for some people, especially when it comes to loading and unloading equipment. Still, it could be worse. The SUV also scores well in terms of towing capacity. When its properly equipped, the Tahoe can tow as much as 8,600 pounds, which is more than most SUVs of its size outside the Expedition. If all of these features interest you, I’m happy to say that the Tahoe also comes with a cheaper entry price. The base unit starts at $47,450 and can go up to as high as $62,130.
Read our full review on the 2018 Chevy Tahoe.
Did you know that the Chevrolet Suburban has been around since 1935?
Did you know that the Chevrolet Suburban has been around since 1935? It’s taken different forms, but for the most part, Chevy’s resident people hauler has been a staple of the American SUV scene even before the term “SUV” became popular. That’s a testament to the Suburban’s staying power and it’s a big reason why, to this day, it’s still regarded as one of the best full-sized SUVs on the market.
Some of the Suburban’s biggest strong suits include having a strong V-8 engine, a polished ride, and the biggest cargo space of any SUV in its class, including the Expedition. On that end, the Suburban has an incredible 39 cubic-feet of cargo space, and that’s when all seats are in the upright position. Fold all the seats down and you’re looking at 120 cubic-feet of cargo space. Checkmark, please! Outside of having loads and loads of space, the Suburban also features a 5.3-liter V-8 engine that puts down 355 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque. You can argue that the Tahoe is a better choice because of its 6.2-liter V-8, and that’s a fair argument. It’s just that the Suburban and its V-8 are made for each other. There’s a smoothness to its ride that you don’t often see on SUVs of this size. That kind of rideability plays well when the Suburban is out on the road. Speaking of which, the SUV also has a good amount of towing capacity to its name. When equipped with all relevant equipment, the Suburban can haul up to 8,300 pounds. It’s not class-leading by any means, but it gets the job done, especially if you’re hauling something like ATVs, jet skis, and lightweight boats. For all of that, the Suburban’s base price amounts to $50,150. Depending on how you want to spec it, the price can also go up to as high as $64,830.
Read our full review on the 2018 Chevy Suburban.