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August 27, 2008 > Auto Review: GMC Yukon

Auto Review: GMC Yukon

This week's test vehicle was a 4-wheel drive GMC Yukon XL 1500. In 2007, GMC brought out a completely redesigned Yukon model range of full-sized SUVs. This means the 2008's do not have too many changes. They come in two sizes. The Yukon is 202 inches long and caries a 1/2 ton payload. The Yukon XL (rated at 3/4 ton) is 222 inches long and has a third row seat in the back. The extra seat is an option on the Yukon. Chevy markets this vehicle as its Tahoe.

The Yukon line comes with a variety of drive train choices. 2-wheel and 4-wheel drive systems are available. V-8s of 4.8-liter (295 HP), 5.5-liter (320 HP), and 6-liter (366 HP) are ready to slip into the Yukon of your choice. Then you get to pick from a 4-speed or 6-speed automatic transmission. EPA numbers range from 12 to 14 for the city test and 17 to 20 for the highway test using regular unleaded gas.

These babies have great trailer towing capacity ranging from 7500 pounds on the 2-wheel drive Yukon to up to 9000 pounds for the Yukon XL 2500.

The Yukon is the perfect vehicle for long trips. It rode very smoothly and all seats were very comfortable. It's easy to drive, and all controls were a breeze to figure out and use. Outward visibility was great. The only downside is that it is a big vehicle and takes up a lot of space on the road. If you usually drive small cars, Yukon's size can make you feel a little claustrophobic in heavy traffic.

This is the first vehicle where I have used all the various rear seat systems. We took a long trip and my wife (and co-tester) drove for a long while. I sat in the back and wrote road tests. First, the AC system in the back worked very well. It was very convenient to set different temps for the front and rear, sunny side and shady side. Next the rear entertainment system was great. It used wireless headphones in the rear, so my wife and I could listen to two different radio stations; we just couldn't listen to two different XM stations at the same time.

The test Yukon's sticker started at $41,715 and ended at $53,220. Big ticket options included a package with the rear entertainment system, navigation unit, and sunroof for $4,790. The 20-inch polished aluminum wheels were another $1,795 and a few more items were added. If you want to go upscale, then the Yukon Denali is for you. It is definitely in the luxury SUV category with many additions. The MSRP of our test Yukon in Denali trim would have been about $10,000 more.

You can even get a hybrid drive system in your Yukon. For the 2-wheel drive hybrid models, the results of the city EPA test was a 50% improvement in miles per gallon compared to their non-hybrid siblings. This improved economy is made possible by GM's Electrically Variable Transmission, the nickel-metal hydride batteries and 2 electric motors of its Energy Storage System. Also, the V-8 runs in a more economical V-4 mode when full power is not required. The 2-wheel drive hybrid starts at about $51K and the 4-wheel one is an additional $3K.

All Yukons come with 4-wheel disc ABS brakes, stability control, multiple air bags, and a tire pressure monitoring system. You can add an ultrasonic rear parking assist system and rear view camera. They all get GM's famous OnStar system, a 36K mile/3-year bumper to bumper warranty, 100,000 miles/5-year powertrain warranty and a 100,000 miles/5-year roadside assistance program.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists

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