A full-size SUV should be capable of towing heavy stuff – most likely a trailer, maneuvering rough terrain with relative ease, and accommodating more human passengers and non-human cargo without breaking a sweat. They usually have a three-row or more seating configuration, unless you include the Kia Carnival that likes to think it’s an SUV with a four-row seating to accommodate – wait for it – 11 people. Anyway, both the ‘imposter’ Carnival and true-to-form large SUVs have an eye-turning number of brands and models vying for your attention online and at your local dealership.
You might come across drool-worthy luxury models with an attractive retail price slapped on their windshields, but that might just be a telltale of bad news because premium SUVs today are typically more complex and feature-laden, often requiring costly repairs and maintenance. “There’s going to be a direct proportion between the cost of the car and the cost to repair the car,” explained Jill Trotta, vice president of industry and sales at RepairPal.
In other words, that low sticker price is already factoring how much theused car will cost you in the long run. The onus is on the shopper to sift through the pile for what meets their long-term driving needs vis-à-vis reliability and long-term cost of ownership. We know this isn’t as simple as it sounds, but data analytics and consumer intelligence resources like Consumer Reports and JD Power can go a long way in helping consumers make informed decisions. Below are 10 American full-size SUVs that can drive you mad with repairs and maintenance in the long run.
10 2015 Chevrolet Suburban – Transmission Issues
From CarEdge, a company that walks the talk as an “advocate for car shoppers,” you can expect to spend over $9,000 within ten years of bringing home your Suburban. In other words, a brand-new Chevrolet Suburban purchased today will set you back $9,306 over ten years for repairs and maintenance. They found this to be more than the industry average for popular SUVs by $173.
CarEdge’s analysis also found there’s a 26.05% chance that a Suburban will require a major repair during that time, which is 4.55% worse than similar vehicles in its class. Let’s say you take the used car route, which is totally fine unless you’re buying the 2015 Chevy Suburban. It has an overall reliability score of 1.0 out of 5.0, according to Consumer Reports.
The transmission system is the 2015 Suburban’s most common trouble spot, although owners also reported problems with the suspension system, comprising the shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (including rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.
9 2016 Chevrolet Suburban – Transmission/Climate System
As with the 2015 model year, the 2016 Chevrolet Suburban suffers from major transmission and climate system issues. It has a Consumer Reports overall reliability rating of 1.0 out of 5.0, which is poor. You might wonder what exactly is wrong with the Suburban’s transmission.
The Tennessee-based Firestone Complete Auto Care explained that the Chevrolet Suburban transmission issues can present themselves as shifting delays, grinding when accelerating, the car shaking on the road, or a burning smell or whistling sounds coming from under the hood.
8 2017 Chevrolet Suburban – Engine/Transmission Issues
That’s three years in a row that the Chevrolet Suburban shares the bottom rung with the least reliable American full-size SUVs. For the 2017 model year, the engine joins the transmission as the Suburban’s most common trouble spot.
Owners also complained about the problematic suspension, with one owner saying, “The shocks and struts have been replaced twice in the last year. The magnetic drive system doesn’t work 50% of the time currently and has been unresolvable.” They also complained about a “constant vibration” of the steering wheel at 75 mph. You should know that the 2017 Chevrolet Suburban got recalled four times by the NHTSA.
7 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe – Climate System
Chevrolet introduced a fully redesigned Tahoe for the 2021 model year, featuring a satisfying list of updated infotainment and driver-aid features. Even so, CarEdge’s analysis found that a brand-new Chevrolet Tahoe will set you back $9,302 – spent on maintenance and repairs – in a period of ten years, minus the upfront cost of purchase. That means the Tahoe’s true cost of ownership (TCO) is $169 higher than the industry average for similarly classed SUVs.
It also has a 26.05% chance of requiring a major repair during that time, which is 4.55% worse than similarly classed vehicles. Although Consumer Reports cited the transmission, not the climate system, as the 2015 Chevy Tahoe’s most serious reliability trouble spots, the latter is what owners complained about the most as affecting the blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.
6 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe – Engine/Transmission/Drive System
For the 2016 model year, the drive system, with issues spanning the driveshaft, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, drive line vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), and electrical failure, joins the engine and transmission issues plaguing the Tahoe. The major engine issues impact the cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, and timing chain and may require engine rebuild or replacement.
5 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe – Transmission/Fuel Economy
The Tahoe suffered just one recall for the 2019 model, as opposed to the 2016 model, which suffered a total of nine recalls, and the 2015 model with a heartbreaking 16 recalls. It’s also the most reliable of the aforementioned model years, but that doesn’t stop it from burning through your pocket through maintenance and repairs, no thanks to a terrible fuel economy that should set you back an average of $3,025 annually, according to Consumer Reports.
It also suffers from minor transmission issues, including the gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, and slipping transmission.
4 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee – Engine Cooling/Transmission
According to CarEdge, a Jeep Grand Cherokee will cost about $10,484 for maintenance and repairs during its first 10 years of service. That figure is $1,351 higher than the industry average for similarly classed SUVs.
The CarEdge data also shows that the Grand Cherokee has a 31.13% chance of needing a major repair during that time, a probability that’s a scarily 9.63% worse than similar vehicles in this segment. Using the 2014 Grand Cherokee model as a case study, those major repairs, according to Consumer Reports, involve minor transmission and engine cooling issues, including the radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, and overheating problems.
3 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee – Engine/Engine Cooling
For the 2015 model year, the engine joins the engine cooling system as the most common reliability trouble spots affecting the Jeep Grand Cherokee. They include both serious and minor engine-related problems, including the cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt, accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, and oil leaks.
The Grand Cherokee suffered a whopping nine recalls for this model year, as owners also complained about wide-ranging electrical system issues, including the body control module. One owner wrote, “Module which controls the starting process stopped communicating with the BCM resulting in a condition where the car would not start at all.”
2 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee – Engine/Transmission Issues
The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee had the worst reliability rating compared to the last two model years, although the transmission improved considerably. Its most common reliability trouble spots include both major and minor engine issues, engine cooling issues, and drive system issues.
It also suffered from minor transmission issues, including the gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, and slipping transmission. For this model year, the Jeep Grand Cherokee suffered eight recalls.
1 2018 Ford Expedition – Engine/Transmission/Drive System
A CarEdge probability chart shows the Ford Expedition’s reliability is over 50% worse than similarly classed full-size SUVs since it has a 26.60% chance of requiring major repairs in a period of ten years, with an estimated annual cost of $1,949. The data also shows that a brand-new Expedition will set the owner back some $9,443 for maintenance and repairs during that time, which is $310 higher than the industry average for popular SUVs.
According to Consumer Reports, the Expedition’s reliability trouble spots are many, including major and minor engine issues, engine cooling, drive system, and major and minor transmission issues. Concerning the 4WDand AWD drive system, one owner wrote, “Valve to engage 4-wheel drive failed, covered under warranty.”
Source: Consumer Reports, Car Edge