With the GMC Yukon there’s two engine choices; a 355 hp, 5.3-liter V8 and a 420 hp, 6.6-liter V8, both powerful enough to lug the massive body around at a more than adequate pace. The latter option is likely the best choice for the Yukon XL though for obvious reasons. Specifications can also be optioned in 4x2 or 4x4 to give buyers the best choice for their needs. Transmissions include a 6-speed and an 8-speed automatic, both of which are silky smooth, as they should be when you look at the pricing. The Yukon starts off at $48,530, while the XL lists at $51,230, and options can see it near the $80,000 mark. At this level you’ll be in a very well optioned SUV with sedan-like luxury that can do great duty as a people carrier and daily driver.
In the SUV market, the GMC Yukon is quite a popular choice, probably more because of its looks and packages than it’s pricing because there are more affordable ones out there. The Yukon can seat 6 comfortably, or up to 8 if you take the extended XL version, and in either scenario that group of people will be able to sit quite comfortably in a variety of trims, including the Denali option that aims to make large vehicles more luxurious – and it does. Pricing starts at $48,530 and options are plenty, but why choose a Yukon over the rivals?
There’s a lot of space, and even more in the XL version, but what’s nice is that space has been afforded various trims (authentic aluminum unless otherwise optioned) and finishes to make it a very pleasant place to be. The dashboard layout is good and quite similar to that in the Chevrolet Suburban, which makes sense, as the same company is responsible for design and manufacture.
There’s storage all over, even behind the bright screen heading up the infotainment system. The seating can be configured in various ways, and they fold up great for when you need storage space to help a friend move. The power-adjustable driver’s seat means a good driving position can be achieved that affords good all-round visibility, a good thing in a large SUV. Triple insulated doors also means the interior is nice and quiet, drowning out the hustle and hustle of life outside.
When you have a great driving position, it’s time to drive, and the GMC Yukon offers up a pretty good one. The available engines have heaps of power and can move the Yukon swiftly enough, but the optional 22-inch wheels make it a little harsh. If you raise that up to the Denali trim, the Yukon also gets magnetic ride control dampers that do help smooth things out. The Yukon does feel nice and planted, likely due to its weight, but even on sweeping bends it doesn’t feel like the bulk wants to fall over.
The only real challenge when driving a GMC Yukon is parking it, the dimensions really are large, but luckily there’s an array of sensors and driver aids along with a rear camera to make sure you don’t squash the kid’s bike in the driveway. A great feature to option is the haptic alert system as found in other GM products. This vibrates the seat when you get close to an obstruction and if it doesn’t scare you, it will save you from damage.
With the bulk of the GMC Yukon being rather large, especially in the XL guise, you need a good dose of power, which is why GM gave it some great engine choices. The smaller, lighter lump is the aluminum-blocked V8 that measures in at your average size of 5.3-liters is dubbed the EcoTec3 and it delivers 355 hp with 383 lb-ft of torque. This one gets a smooth 6-speed automatic transmission.
When you jump up a trim level or two, you can option the bigger aluminum-blocked V8, the 6.2-liter EcoTec3. This one is stronger as expected, with power up to a very good 420 hp with 460 lb-ft of torque. This one gets mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with electronically controlled overdrive. You do pay for this though, just about $9,000. Models can be had in 4x2 or 4x4, and certain trims force you to choose one you may not want. The 4x4 switches between 4x2 and 4x4 as situations dictate.
When it comes to kitting out the interior of the Yukon, there’s a host of standard features along with some great options, but you need to watch how many boxes you tick as you can quickly exhaust your budget. Standard safety features include the usuals for GM products; hill start assist, low speed forward automatic braking, StabiliTrak, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision alert, lane keep assist and an array of airbags. For equipment there’s a lot to be had spread over a few packages, the top of which is the Denali trim for all out luxury with a Bose 10-speaker audio system, headed front and second row leather seats, customizable display and more. With 4G and Wi-Fi hotspot the SUV can be a mobile office, make it a black Yukon and you could almost be an FBI agent.
The GMC Yukon and Yukon XL are really good at being a large SUV, which is the point of them. They’re practical enough for daily use thanks to space for six or eight adults, and when the need arises the seats can be arranged to take a pretty decently sized cargo on board too. The tech on board is good, much the same as the rest of the GM range, with that in mind it is still a dressed up Suburban.
The Yukon is expensive as a result, and the extra space in the XL version is even more costly. If you option the Denali trim you can see a price tag rising up to the $80,000 mark, but they you’ve probably ordered the carbon fiber exhaust tips too. Can you go wrong with a GMC Yukon? Probably not. Can you get something equally as good for less money? Probably.