GMC Yukon

2016 GMC Yukon

The GMC Yukon is a big seven-seat SUV with V8 power, essentially the GMC version of the Chevy Tahoe though with some significant differences in equipment.

The GMC Yukon XL is the Suburban-size version, with a wheelbase of 130 inches, giving more legroom in the third row and cargo space behind it.

Built on truck chassis, these vehicles are among the few full-sized SUVs built body-on-frame, as opposed to being a unibody crossover with a car chassis. So the Yukon, like the land it was named for, is all about ruggedness, towing capability and hauling ability.

The standard Yukon engine is the 5.3-liter V8 making 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque, with a 6-speed automatic; but GMC also offers a 6.2-liter V8 making 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque.

So if you want the most towing capability, Yukon is the way to go. Its rated at 8500 pounds, although thats still not as much as the Ford Expeditions 9200 pounds, on the back of is twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. Its also less than the Nissan Armadas 8200-9000 pounds, but more than the Toyota Sequoia or Dodge Durango.

Both Yukon engines are direct injected, which improves response and efficiency with precise fuel metering; and both use cylinder deactivation, which cuts the engine down to a V4 when the throttle is reduced. Its indicated on the instrument panel, but the driver never feels the transition. Fuel mileage with the 5.3-liter is EPA-rated at 16 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined.

The ladder-type boxed frame uses mostly high-strength steel, for safety and rigidity. The rear suspension is old school, with a live axle and leaf springs, delivering a very good ride. But Magnetic Ride Control is available, the high-tech active suspension that basically absorbs bumps that the solid axle just deflects. A locking rear differential is standard.

Because the Yukon was redesigned for 2015, theres nothing new for the 2016 model year, except a capless fuel filler. However, there are enhancements to packages, such as the addition of Apple Car Play to the infotainment system.

Safety equipment standard on all models are a rearview camera and proximity sensors in front and rear, and with models having a bench seat in front, theres an additional airbag that separates the two passengers. Optional safety equipment includes adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic warning, and forward collision alert.

Rear-wheel drive is standard, four-wheel drive available. Yukon 4WD models use a single-speed Autotrac system for automatic operation on the highway. If you want 4WD with a low-range for rock crawling or slimy boat ramps, you have to get the HD tow package two-speed transfer case. Denali 4WD comes with it.

2015 GMC Yukon

The GMC Yukon is all-new for 2015. What hasnt been obviously restyled or re-thought has been re-programmed, re-calibrated or re-engineered. The biggest news for the 2015 Yukon is more power and better fuel efficiency, third-row seats that fold to a flat floor, electronics that provide Siri eyes-free, text alerts, a Wi-Fi hotspot and a tailored new cabin thats very quiet.

New safety systems feature prominently in the 2015 Yukon overhaul as well. A rearview camera and proximity sensors front and rear are standard on the 2015 Yukon, as is a center front-row airbag that works as a divider cushion in side-impact collisions. A head-up display, forward-collision warning with automatic braking, lane departure, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warnings are available on 2015 Yukon models.

The GMC Yukon is a full-size sport utility with room for five adults and up to nine passengers total. Yukon is built like a truck to handle rough use. It offers enough towing capacity to handle a four-ton trailer and has the versatility for cargo hauling.

Yukons interior layout looks more luxury sedan than any other GMC product. Although it offers a front bench seat, most models have a pair of front bucket seats flanking a center console that arcs up to the dash in well integrated fashion. Middle-row seats are individual bucket or three-across bench. The third row is a 60/40-split arrangement good for children.

Yukon runs a 355-hp 5.3-liter V8 and 6-speed automatic transmission with EPA ratings of 16/23 mpg City/Highway. Automatic four-wheel drive is available, as is a similar system with low-range gearing for off-highway work that can be towed behind your motorhome.

Denali is the top luxury model, powered by a 420-hp 6.2-liter V8 and 8-speed automatic, with EPA numbers of 15/21 mpg. The Denali 4WD system includes low-range. Yukon Denali has a unique instrument display and trim inside and out and adds features such as wireless phone charging, hands-free tailgate and a more sophisticated suspension.

Towing capacity is 8100-8500 pounds depending on model. Every towing aid available on the Sierra pickup, except trailering mirrors, is offered on Yukon. Most Yukon models will carry 1500-1650 pounds of personnel and baggage.

Yukon rolls down the road with nary a care, we found it stable, quiet and confidence-inspiring in challenging conditions. It can cart kids to practice, co-workers to lunch or boat to the lake with equal ease. If you require the ultimate in luxury, expect the price to almost double for a loaded Denali.

GMC Yukon competition includes the less-advanced but roomier Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia, Nissan Armada, Dodge Durango, as well as the related Chevrolet Tahoe. Yukon Denali competes with the Lincoln Navigator, Range Rover Sport, Infiniti QX80, Mercedes-Benz GL and Lexus GX.

If you do not need low-range 4WD or rugged truck construction, and have only a small lightweight trailer, a big crossover, such as the GMC Acadia, BMW X5 or Audi Q7 might be a better fit. If cargo volume and people space are paramount and ultimate luxury isnt, a minivan will provide far greater third-row room, more cargo volume than the long XL version of Yukon, similar payload and better fuel economy in a smaller outside package.

On the other hand, if bigger is better, the Yukon XL bumps rear seat and aft cargo space considerably, is nearly as maneuverable, much easier entry/egress at the rear doors, at a premium of one EPA mile-per-gallon and $3,000. Skip a moonroof and rear-seat entertainment and youre there.

2013 GMC Yukon

The GMC Yukon is a full-size SUV with power, space, and towing capacity. It can haul loads of gear, it can survive repeated pounding over rugged terrain, it can pull trailers, all while transporting four or five adults in comfort.

And it's that towing capacity and 4WD that makes it a sensible choice. Yukon's maximum tow rating ranges from 8100-8500 pounds, or to about 6000 pounds on Hybrid models. Most Yukons can carry 1400-1700 pounds of passengers and cargo, which must be subtracted from allowable trailer weight. The standard-size Yukon can carry more weight than the equivalent-trim, longer Yukon XL due to the XL's greater weight, but the XL offers a heavy-duty (2500) version the Yukon does not.

Inside, the Yukon features a simple, elegant dash that hints at aspirations for entry-luxury status. The Yukon has three-row seating standard and can be configured for two to nine occupants. Seating in the first and second rows has plenty of room, but the third row is best left for kids and has to be removed for maximum cargo space.

Engine choices are all V8s. The 320-hp 5.3-liter V8 and Denali's 403-hp 6.2-liter V8 both have a system that shuts down half the cylinders under light loads to improve fuel economy. For better economy in daily driving, look to the Hybrid models which pair a 6-liter gasoline V8 that switches off completely when not needed, and battery pack with dual electric motors inside the transmission to increase rated urban fuel economy by about 33 percent.

Ride and handling characteristics are typical of large SUVs. The Yukon leans in turns and is not agile. The ride quality, on the other hand, is commendable, even with the Denali's available 20-inch polished wheels that add a touch of fashion trendiness.

Two four-wheel-drive systems are available. All-wheel-drive models use Autotrac, a system that can be engaged on dry pavement but does not repeal the laws of physics as some owners believe. Four-wheel drive with low-range gearing is available for rugged terrain, boat ramps, severe traction conditions.

The Yukon is a good choice for those who need four-wheel drive, cargo space and towing capacity. Those who don't tow might be better served by a larger crossover, such as the GMC Acadia, which has more third-row room and gets 1 mpg better but has no low-range 4WD and tows 3000 pounds less.

The current-generation GMC Yukon dates from the 2007 model year, but the model line has been refined and expanded significantly since then. The 2013 Yukons add two paint hues and grade braking without engaging tow/haul mode.

Yukon shares the same basic full-size truck platform used for the Yukon XL, Chevy Tahoe and Suburban and Cadillac Escalade. Yukon is in the same class as the Ford Expedition, Infiniti QX56, Lexus LX570, Lincoln Navigator, Nissan Armada, and Toyota Sequoia.


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