A moderately more upscale version of the Chevrolet Tahoe, the GMC Yukon is a full-size SUV with traditional body-on-frame construction that makes it an excellent towing vehicle. Like its bowtie sibling, the Yukon was redesigned for latest model year, resulting in a better-trimmed cabin and more technology features. The Denali variant approaches Cadillac levels of luxury.
The Yukon, along with its extended-length Yukon XL sibling, is all-new for the latest model year. That hasn't stopped GMC from updating the Yukon Denali with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, a hands-free liftgate, a wireless charging surface integrated into the center console and OnStar with 4G LTE and a built-in wi-fi hotspot.
It's most definitely an old-school, pickup-based utility vehicle that doesn't falter at the prospect of traversing a torturous trail or towing a heavy boat, but the Yukon is also up to the task of serving as a cushy people and cargo hauler.
As with previous Yukons, interior acreage for passengers in the first two rows of seats is ample, and there's 51.3 cubic feet of stowage space behind the second row. A full 94.7 cubic feet are available with the second row folded down. Unfortunately, things still get less rosy when the third row - which now folds flat into the floor - is pulled up into place, with cargo capacity falling to 15.3 cubes. Furthermore, due to the Yukon's rugged but bulky solid rear axle, the seats provide only enough space to comfortably seat children.
However, unlike its predecessors, the latest Yukon's cabin features an attractive, swept-back dashboard and upscale materials like metallic-appearance trim and available perforated leather upholstery. Futhermore, all Yukons are equipped with GMC's IntelliLink infotainment system, which integrates entertainment and navigation functions (when equipped), and also offers access to smartphone-based apps like Pandora radio and Stitcher radio.
The system can be controlled through dashboard knobs, steering wheel buttons or an eight-inch touchscreen (which motors up to reveal a hidden storage compartment), and there's also a voice recognition system for hands-free calls, destination entering, song selection and more. Its "natural language" functioning can recognize a staggering number of phrases - effectively eliminating the need for the clunky and cumbersome memorized commands.
The Yukon also offers numerous luxury extras, including heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a Bose surround sound stereo and a rear-seat Blue-ray entertainment system. The Yukon Denali ups the ante even further, although its feature content has not yet been announced.
Powertrains, Towing and Fuel Economy
The Yukon comes standard with a pushrod 5.3-liter V8 that produces 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. The Yukon Denali utilizes a 6.2-liter V8 with 420 ponies and 450 lb-ft of twist.
Both mills are equipped with direct-injection, variable valve timing and a cylinder deactivation system. The 5.3-liter sends its output to the wheels by way of a six-speed automatic transmission, while the 6.2-liter benefits from an eight-speed automatic unit.
Rear-wheel-drive is standard, while four-wheel-drive is an extra-cost option. RWD models equipped with an available Maximum Trailering Package can tow up to 8,500 lbs.
Although not a dedicated mud-slinger, the Yukon is more than capable of handling light off-roading situations.
RWD Yukons with the 5.3-liter V8 are rated at 16/23 city/highway mpg, while 4WD variants check in at 16/22 mpg. The Yukon Denali returns 15/21 mpg regardless of which configuration is chosen.
The Yukon Denali is equipped with a Magnetic Ride Control real-time damping system, which can adjust the dampers in the blink of an eye to mitigate body roll during hard cornering or keep the ride comfortable while cruising.
Trim Level Breakdown
GMC offers the Yukon in SLE, SLT and Denali trims.
The Yukon SLE comes standard with cloth upholstery, an IntelliLink infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen, an 4.2-inch instrument cluster info screen, an AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM/HD radio Bose stereo system with AUX and USB inputs, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, front and rear parking assist, power-adjustable front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, remote keyless entry, remote start, power windows and locks, cruise control, automatic tri-zone climate control, a 110-volt power outlet, five auxiliary 12-volt power outlets, heated exterior mirrors, a tilt steering wheel, fog lights, auto on/off windshield wipers, a locking rear differential and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The SLE can be optioned up with the Driver Alert Package, which includes forward collision alert and a lane departure warning system. It also offers the Convenience Package with power-adjustable pedals, a universal garage door opener, a power tailgate and an auto-dimming interior rearview mirror.
To the SLE's features, the Yukon SLT adds the Driver Alert and Convenience packages, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats with memory functionality, heated and power-adjustable second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, power-folding third-row seats, a proximity key, push-button start, a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, side blind zone alert with lane change alert, rear cross traffic alert and power-folding exterior mirrors.
Both trim levels are available with the Heavy Duty Trailering Package. It includes a 3.42 rear axle ratio, a trailer brake controller, a "premium smooth ride suspension" with air leveler, and on 4WD models, a two-speed active transfer case.
The SLT can be spec'd with the Sun, Entertainment and Destinations Package, a bundle that adds a navigation system, a rear Blue-ray entertainment system with nine-inch screen, and a power sunroof.
Stand-alone options include navigation, a sunroof and an interior motion-sensing anti-theft system.
The Denali comes standard with unique chrome exterior trim, a navigation system, an upgraded 10-speaker Bose Centerpoint audio system, magnetic ride control and 20-inch bright machined aluminum wheels.
The Denali is offered with the Touring Package, which includes a head-up display, 20-inch chrome wheels, an interior motion-sensing anti-theft system, a rear Blue-ray entertainment system with nine-inch screen, and a power sunroof.
All Yukon models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a front center airbag and traction and stability control systems.
Available safety features include a forward collision alert system, which warns the driver when it sense an impending crash; a lane departure warning system that alerts the driver if the Yukon begins to wander into an adjacent lane; a rear cross traffic alert system that warns the driver of approaching traffic in backup situations; and a side blind spot alert system with lane change alert.
Alternatives to the Yukon include the Ford Expedition, the Nissan Armada and the Toyota Sequoia.