Power comes from the standard 5.3-liter V-8 engine that debuted in the 2014 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups launched this summer, mated to a carryover six-speed transmission. It will produce 353 hp and 383 pounds-feet of torque. The Denali will come with a standard 6.2-liter that returns 420 hp and 460 pounds-feet of torque.
The engines feature cylinder deactivation, which shuts off fuel to four of the eight cylinders under light loads, improving fuel economy. Sources have said that GM plans eventually to add an eight-speed transmission to some big SUV models and will likely offer a 10-speed gearbox by 2017.
The redesign marks the 12th generation for the Suburban, which was introduced in 1935 and is the "industry's oldest continuously available nameplate," GM says. Through August, GM sold 31,847 Suburbans, up 4 percent.
The Tahoe replaced the Chevy Blazer in 1995 and is the top seller in the large SUV segment, with sales up 22 percent through August, to 54,794 units.
The 2015 Cadillac Escalade, which shares the same platform as the Yukon, Tahoe and Suburban, will be introduced in October.
From the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, sales of big SUVs soared as gasoline prices remained low and the popularity of minivans and station wagons waned.
Sales peaked in 2001 at slightly more than 1 million units. Demand remained near that level until 2005, before plunging 64 percent through 2009 amid spiking gasoline prices and the financial crisis.
During the overall market's rebound, SUVs have lost ground to unibody crossovers, which typically offer better fuel economy.
IHS Automotive doesn't expect a jump in sales of the SUVs despite the redesign. It predicts flat sales of around 185,000 units next year for the four SUVs before rising 5 percent in 2015, to 194,500.
While it's not a growth segment, GM is taking advantage of its market-leading position and leveraging the cost of its bread-and-butter pickups through the incremental volume that the SUVs reap, says AutoPacific product analyst Dave Sullivan.
He says GM did a better job than in the past at differentiating the design of the SUVs, both from one another and from the pickups, while "adding in some nicely crafted details that we've never seen in the past in these products," such as the fold-flat third row of seats.
John Schwegman, executive director for U.S. product and pricing on GM trucks, says the company's dominant position makes the market too lucrative to abandon.
"Some people might be saying, 'Well, is the segment dead? Why would you continue on?" Schwegman told journalists during a briefing last month. "It still represents a very significant opportunity. And because of our market share performance, we're going to continue to invest in the segment."