2015 GMC Yukon XL

Starting MSRP: $50,440 - $70,220

Estimated MPG: 16 city / 23 hwy

2015 GMC Yukon XL Review

The redesigned 2015 GMC Yukon XL is still the gold standard when it comes to full-size SUVs. From the standard Yukon XL all the way to the luxurious Denali model, each version offers a large amount of versatility, luxury and spaciousness.

By William Maley
Last Updated 05/03/2016

When you think of a full-size SUV, what comes to mind is either the Chevrolet Suburban or the GMC Yukon XL. These two models seamlessly blend luxury features and rugged construction into one model. The GMC Yukon XL is fully redesigned for 2015, and this new generation sees GMC moving the model more upmarket to provide some space between it and Chevrolet's full-size SUVs.

Exterior

Exterior
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General Motors tends to stick with a simple design for its full-size SUVs and the latest-generation of the Yukon XL is no different. A boxy shape is fitted with an upright grille, large projector-beam headlights, a massive area of glass and wheel sizes ranging from 18 to 22 inches. Overall, the simple design gives the Yukon XL a trait of handsomeness.

Opt for the Denali trim and the Yukon XL boasts a chrome mesh grille, HID headlights, LED daytime running lights, chrome accents and optional power-retractable doorsteps. Just one glance at the 2015 Yukon Denali XL and you'll realize its luxury intents very quickly.

Interior

Interior
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A key reason why people buy the Yukon XL is for its added interior space. Compared with the standard GMC Yukon, the Yukon XL is about 20.4 inches longer, which allows for a larger cargo space. With both rear rows up, you have 38.9 cubic feet of cargo space available. Fold the third row down and space increases to 76.7 cubic feet. Fold both rows of rear seats and space increases to 121.7 cubic feet.

While the Ford Expedition EL and Lincoln Navigator L have a little more cargo space, the Yukon XL does give other models in the class a run for their money.

Along with large area of space, the 2015 Yukon XL is quite the passenger hauler. Most versions offer seating for seven or eight passengers. If you want seating for nine, you'll need to go with the base SLE model. No matter which seating arrangement you choose, you'll find supportive seats either in cloth or leather trim. Front seat passengers will find a number of adjustments to help them find the right position. Those sitting in the rear rows will be quite comfortable, with a large amount of head- and legroom. The only downside to sitting in the back is the narrow space to get into the third row, which is provided by moving the second-row seat. It's a tight squeeze for an adult to get in and out.

GMC addressed one of the big issues on the last-generation Yukon XL, poor interior materials. The 2015 Yukon XL's redesigned interior has to be considered as one of the best, with a new dashboard design paired with an abundance of soft-touch plastics and faux aluminum trim. On our test Yukon XL Denali, we had brown leather with stitching to add a nice touch of class.

Standard equipment on the Yukon XL is quite generous. The base SLE model gets tri-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats, automatic windshield wipers, keyless entry, Bluetooth, five USB ports and backup camera. Higher trims get keyless entry and push-button start, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, memory settings for the driver's seat and power-folding seats in the second and third rows.

Performance

Performance
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Most Yukon XLs will come equipped a 5.3-liter V8 with 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. This engine comes with a six-speed automatic as standard. Our Yukon Denali XL tester boasted the larger 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic comes standard with this engine. Both engines feature cylinder deactivation to save fuel. Rear-wheel drive is standard and four-wheel drive is optional. Models with the smaller V8 can tow up to 8,300 pounds when equipped with a heavy-duty trailering package. Without the package, the maximum tow rating drops to 6,500 pounds. Choose the larger V8 and you can tow up to 8,100 pounds.

The 6.2-liter V8 sounds like an engine you would find in muscle car, with a distinctive burble at idle. That exhaust note continues as you press the accelerator and the engine growls and unleashes its fury. The Yukon Denali XL tips the scales at 6,009 pounds, but the V8 shrugged that weight off like it was nothing. Getting up to speed or making a pass proved to be no issue, and the eight-speed automatic provided smooth shifts and kept the engine in its power zone.

The EPA rates the Yukon XL with the 6.2-liter V8 at 14/20 mpg city/highway, or 20 mpg combined when equipped with four-wheel drive. Our week of driving returned an average of 16.1 mpg.

The 2015 Yukon XL Denali delivers a smooth and relaxed ride, thanks in part to the Magnetic Ride Control system that comes standard on Denali models. The system also makes a difference in the corners, as the Yukon Denali XL doesn't show much body roll. Steering has a nice weight and decent feel.

Technology

Technology
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All Yukon XL's come with an 8-inch color touch screen with GMC's IntelliLink infotainment system. The system features a simple interface with large touch points and voice commands can control various aspects of the system. However, the system didn't always recognize the commands that were said.

IntelliLink was also slow to respond at times, particularly with simple tasks such as changing the radio station. On the upside, our Denali model came with a 10-speaker Bose audio system that delivered fantastic sound quality.

The 2015 Yukon XL gets GM's OnStar 4G LTE system with a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot. This new version of GM's telematics system allows you and your passengers to connect a smartphone, tablet or laptop to the internet using OnStar's data connection. In my testing, I found download speeds to be very comparable with my 4G LTE smartphone. All Yukon XLs get a three-month trial to OnStar 4G LTE.

Safety

Safety
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2015 GMC Yukon XL four out of five stars for its overall performance in crash tests. The Yukon XL received five stars in front- and side-impact tests, and three stars in rollover tests.

The Yukon XL comes standard with a suite of air bags, anti-lock brakes, hill start assist, trailer sway control, traction control, stability control and a rearview camera. An available suite of crash prevention technologies includes forward collision alert, lane departure warning and rear cross traffic alert.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The 2015 GMC Yukon XL starts at $50,440 for the base, rear-wheel drive SLE model and climbs to $70,220 for the four-wheel drive Denali trim. These prices are in line with those of many competitors, though the Yukon XL also offers a lot of standard equipment for the price.

Our test Yukon XL Denali had a sticker price of $78,725. While that may seem pricey, luxury competitors such as the 2015 Infiniti QX80, Lexus LX 570 and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class easily cost $10,000 to $15,000 more to match the Denali model's level of equipment.

Overall

Overall
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There is a reason as to why the GMC Yukon XL is one of the best-selling full-size SUVs: It gets the basics right. From an impressive range of powertrains to an improved interior, the redesigned Yukon XL should be at the top of anyone's list of full-size SUVs.