Suburban vs Excursion for Family of 8

BayMonty

Member
I’ve read about the legendary 7.3. I’ve also read about the common issues in the X, like the electrical systems, brakes, and suspension. I’ve read about the 8.1, and it’s common GM issues.

This rig will be the daily family hauler, but will also serve as the adventure/overland vehicle. Will pull an off road basecamp trailer like the Taxa Woolly Bear, the Opus camper models, or something similar...nothing too heavy.

The current family hauler is a 2013 Suburban LT 4x4 without a 4lo. Want to get a true 4x4 for the overland build.

Prior to the Suburban, I owned Sequoia’s both the first generation and second (current) generation, GX470, Gen2, Gen2.5, and Gen3 Montero’s...pretty much Japanese SUV’s. Loved the reliability, quality, capabilities, etc. But once we had our 5th child, we knew we couldn’t stick with a standard full-size SUV. This left us with domestic SUV choices, which I’ve grown to really appreciate.

Hoping to get the advice and opinions of others who have large families and have experience with one, the other, or both platforms overlanding. Out of all the SUV’s I’ve owned, this might sound crazy, but my favorite was the first Gen Sequoia. Stayed on top of maintenance and it never gave any problems at all. Bought it with high mileage (around 121K), kept putting high mileage as a daily vehicle, and sold it at 340K. No issues whatsoever other than expected maintenance. The 4wd system was really underrated.


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bigdogyj

Member
I might be biased but definitely suburban. Plenty of parts and very reliable. Good solid platforms.
8.1 is a beast but really only need if hauling heavy. They are known to use oil but that’s not a problem per se. the early ones had issues with the crank position sensor but that’s easy to change. It’s fuel mileage is pretty dismal. The 6.0 is a decent motor with plenty of aftermarket support. Fuel mileage isn’t great but will likely be better than the 8.1. 2000-2006 is a solid platform and will provide many miles of service. Find the cleanest one you can with the most maintenance records. Mileage is overrated. I recently bought another rig for my wife to daily drive. I looked at 18 different rigs 2003-2006 Tahoe/Yukon and many with 100-150k miles were trashed and not well maintained. Found a 2004 with 190k miles and it’s near perfect and had a giant stack of maintenance records for it. It’s all in how it’s taken care of. Good luck.


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OBS460

Well-known member
The Excursions are very solid with good aftermarket support, I would just avoid the 6.0 if at all possible unless it's 'bullet proofed'.

The current price disparity between gas and diesel can easily be $10k+, so you have to decide if you really need the extra pulling power. For me, I'd rather get a V10 rig with 4.30 ratios and pocket the $10k upfront. Less cold weather issues, and cheaper maintenance as well.

The 6.8 V10 is a pretty reliable power plant, the only pitfalls are leaking exhaust manifolds and spark plugs occasionally being ejected (from improper torque following replacement, make sure you follow the TSB). The 4r100 trans is pretty stout as well.
 

BayMonty

Member
Thank you both for your responses. Aftermarket support is very important, as well as how readily available service and repair parts are. If that’s the case the Suburban wins.

Has anyone had experience with the Suburban 6.5 diesel?


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glock7018

Member
6.5's are turds. I wouldn't even consider one. I own a 7.3 Excursion. Probably the best camping/road trip vehicle ever made IMO. Solid front axle, diesel engine, 44 gal fuel tank, plenty of room, not too big on the trail. List can go on. Also I much prefer fords interior layout and quality compared to GM of that era. about 90 percent of the parts on a Excursion interchange with the superduty's of the time. So whatever off road parts fit a 99 to 04 superduty will fit on the excursion. Also I think excursions a little bit longer so you will have a little more cargo room behind the third row. Let me know if you have any other questions about the platform.
 

BayMonty

Member
glock7018, what has your maintenance costs looked like? Out here in CA the 7.3’s are pretty expensive even with high mileage. There’s an 01 with 80k miles for $45k. The dealer specializes in trucks and has an 05 v10 with 130k miles for half the cost, and an 02 Suburban 2500 8.1 with 120k miles for $19k.

With another $20k, I can do a lot of things to the other two.


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WRONG_WAY_DAVE

Active member
I would also consider a Gen4 Ford Expedition FX4 in standard or MAX model (Suburban class sized).

With the FX4 option checked they come with skid plates, 3.73 gears, 32 inch tall 18s, low gear set, neutral "dolly" towing capability, terrain control, locking rear axle, and the ability to tow over 9K lbs as config'ed.
Max payload is 1700-1800 pounds depending on options, and they have a TON of power (375/470tq w/91 octane) and economy (27-28 mpg at 50-55 mph with A/C on) and you can run them all day on 87 octane w/o problems.

There are two legitimate lifts out there to raise the vehicle 1.5-2.25 inches all around (not spacers, but adjustable shocks and cost $500-$4500, respectively ) and you can run 33/34's with no/minimal zip ties/cutting.
There are hitch mounted tire swings, roof racks, and some bumpers but they are not many.

If you keep to the XLT model with an FX4 with tow package can be had for $53K new with a bit of haggling and discounts. Stick to this model or new/used prices can quickly rise VERY HIGH.

I can't attest to the new gen of 3.5 TT Ecoboost engines longevity past 100-150K miles (but reports are good if you maintain it well) vs Toyota's 5.7 (which is probably no comparison for longevity), but there are bumper-to-bumper extended warranties that can take you to 8 years-150K...
 
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twodollars

Active member
I have had 3 2500 subs, all 6.5s. With a little tuning they easily get to 250hp and 500lbft. The last year for them was 1999. 4l80 trans is a nice match to the engine. With 3.73s high teens are common on the highway if your not cruising at 80
 

ogre

Member
When you say aftermarket support, what does that look like?

I have no experience with the suburban, however I own 2 excursions with the v10.

Both my v10 excursions get around 10mpg city and 13-16 highway.

Aftermarket support is great for suspension, bumpers, body panels. With the exception of rear quarter panels.
As was stated earlier drive train and suspension wise if it fits a 99-04 superduty it will bolt on to the excursion, including bumpers.

Just remember that a 2” lift for a f-250 will net 4” on an excursion.
The excursion platform can fit 33” tires stock. 35” tires with minimum trimming stock or just a level for the front. 37” tires on 3-4” lift.


All excursions came with a Dana 50 solid front axle. Arb, auburn gear, and Yukon all make lockers for this axle. 02-04 Ford superduty trucks came with a Dana 60 front axle. This is a direct bolt in to the excursion. And gives a wider range of limited slip or locker brands. From the rights salvage yard you can get one for a couple hundred bucks.
Depending on how you want to go you could also swap the coil suspension and front Dana 60 from a 2005 - 2010 axle under the excursion. Just need the 2005 - 2007 rear axle also to match width.

The excursion Dana 50 shares all parts from the knuckle out with the Dana 60. The 50 is a stout axle.

The rear axle is a Ford 10.5 very strong axle. Shares carriers with the Ford 10.25 axle and if you feel you need Deeper gears than 4.88 you can run 10.25 ring and pinion gears with corresponding bearings. Also the 2011 Ford locker can be put in the older axle housing.

Don’t discredit the v10 as it is a good motor. Very reliable. And well maintained will go 300k +, Not as much aftermarket support but it has plenty of power stock. V10 is much cheaper than diesel. And maintenance wise it’s far cheaper. I bought both my excursions and did some repairs for less than I would have spent on one 7.3 excursion.

The only downside to the excursion is sort build time. 2000 - 2005 and not a whole lot of them were produced.
Ride quality is a subjective topic. However on the dirt the suburban will probably jive a plusher ride than the excursion.

However like I said I have no experience with the suburban.


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RedF

Adventurer
Fuel mileage with a 8.1 and 4.10s is very comparable to a 6.0 and 4.10s (pretty lousy but neither was built for economy). I would absolutely buy another 8.1.
 

BayMonty

Member
My mind is blown that rigs of that age are still 20+ k.
I’m in the same boat. And these rigs are really the only thing that will work for my family...unless I go the Van Life path. I’ve looked at a few Nissan NVP’s and I think they’re amazing but costs upwards of $60k+


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Grassland

Well-known member
*edit*
Re read how big the family is. No crew cab truck has enough seats

Ford Transit 4x4 conversion? Also mega dollars. I mean the aftermarket ones with real 4wd and low range, not the AWD available with the 2020s.
 

plainjaneFJC

Goofball
glock7018, what has your maintenance costs looked like? Out here in CA the 7.3’s are pretty expensive even with high mileage. There’s an 01 with 80k miles for $45k. The dealer specializes in trucks and has an 05 v10 with 130k miles for half the cost, and an 02 Suburban 2500 8.1 with 120k miles for $19k.

With another $20k, I can do a lot of things to the other two.


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45k for a 20 year old truck with 80k miles. This just seems crazy. Age affects the vehicle as much as miles. That 7.3 is going to need upkeep. Oil leaks, etc.
 

BayMonty

Member
*edit*
Re read how big the family is. No crew cab truck has enough seats

Ford Transit 4x4 conversion? Also mega dollars. I mean the aftermarket ones with real 4wd and low range, not the AWD available with the 2020s.


This is the Nissan NVP 4x4. One of the dealerships in Utah install the Titan Pro-4X 4x4 and suspension system on the NV’s


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