The GMC Yukon is fully redesigned for 2015. It was introduced in 1993 and is related to both the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban. GMC takes a slightly more upscale approach to the market than Chevrolet, which is especially evident in the top-end Yukon Denali. The Yukon is a traditional sport utility vehicle, sold in standard two-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive editions with seating for up to nine.
There are still a few traditional truck-based sport utility vehicles left and you can count the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL among them. This full-size SUV is available in standard and extended wheelbase models with two-wheel and four-wheel drive variations available. Its top-of-the-line Denali line matches the creature comforts and amenities found in some luxury models.
General Motors bases its full-size SUVs on its large pickup truck platform. The GMC Yukon offers the typical boxy frame with an upright grille, powerful shoulders, a slab profile and an oversized rear quarter with a power liftgate.
The 2015 Yukon is fully redesigned, providing changes that are more evolutionary than they are revolutionary. Projector-beam headlamps are standard across the model line except Denali editions, which are outfitted with high-intensity discharged headlamps. Yukon Denali models also come with a unique grille and additional chrome cladding.
With the latest edition, GMC also made several design changes to reduce wind noise and improve aerodynamics. These include: inlaid doors that fit into the body side openings, a laminated windshield and front door glass, aluminum hood and liftgate panels and a standard rear spoiler.
Yukon interiors are cavernous, offering excellent head, shoulder, thigh and legroom for the first- and second-row occupants. The Yukon’s third row provides good standard space, or excellent room in Yukon XL editions.
The redesigned Yukon is outfitted with soft-touch materials across the console, on door the panels and around the instrument panel, where French stitching is liberally used. Ambient lighting, firm but plush seats, a Bose audio system and tri-zone automatic climate control are among the Yukon’s stand out features.
The driver’s seat is very comfortable, supportive and provides a commanding view of the road with very good sight lines. Oversized side mirrors and a rearview camera help reduce the impact of blind spots, and additional driver assistance options include lane keeping assist.
The GMC Yukon offers several seating options. To enjoy the most room, front bucket seats and second row captain’s chairs are available, making room for seven. Replace the captain’s chairs with a bench seat and an additional seating space is gained. You can also order a Yukon with a front bench seat, which raises seating capacity to nine. That gain results in a loss of the center console with cup holders and a deep storage compartment.
People prize the GMC Yukon for its bigness. That also translates into an abundance of storage compartments, storage space and the ability to haul significant amounts of cargo with both the second and third row seats folded down. The Yukon offers numerous cup holders, in-door bottle holders and a cargo shade, the latter installed by the dealer.
GMC provides two V8 engine choices with the 2015 Yukon. Standard is the third generation of its small-block 5.3-liter engine, which makes 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. Also available is a 6.2-liter V8 engine that makes 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. Both 16-valve engines make use of direct fuel injection and active fuel management, the latter shutting down four cylinders when operating at constant speeds to save fuel. GMC pairs these engines with a new eight-speed automatic transmission.
Both engines take regular grade gasoline. The 2015 GMC Yukon is rated as high as 16/23 mpg city/highway for the standard model and 15/21 mpg for the Yukon XL.
As tested, the smaller V8 provides very good power with ample acceleration and good passing capabilities. Choose the larger engine if you expect to regularly tow a boat or have a full contingent of riders with you. In any event, this SUV can pull up to 8,500 pounds when properly equipped.
Steering is good and handling matches well with other SUVs in its class. Its turning radius is good and power-assisted rack and pinion steering moves the wheels with ease. All models come with front and rear stabilizer bars. Choose the Denali edition and magnetic ride control brings in a more refined ride and controls the SUV’s damping system for a more responsive feel. GMC says that it is especially beneficial when trailering.
GMC equips the Yukon with generous amounts of standard technologies. Satellite radio is included and comes with a three-month trial subscription. OnStar, GM’s connectivity and navigation plan, is also included and comes with a six-month subscription.
OnStar provides a variety of services, including turn-by-turn navigation, automatic crash response whereby 911 is contacted automatically, stolen vehicle assistance and roadside assistance.
New for 2015 is 4G LTE Internet connectivity that turns the Yukon into a rolling Wi-Fi hot spot. This system enables passengers to surf the Internet with their handheld devices, laptops and tablets. GMC also provides a 110-volt power outlet to connect laptops on the go. Denali editions also provide an available wireless phone recharging option.
GMC IntelliLink is the name of the Yukon’s infotainment system. The system provides hands-free calling, Pandora connectivity, navigation and smartphone connectivity as well as other features. Touch screen access is easy with large icons present. However, the voice control commands, particularly with navigation, are sometimes not understood.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not conducted crash testing for the GMC Yukon. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has awarded the 2015 GMC Yukon with a 4-star rating (on a scale of 1 to 5 stars) for both rear- and four-wheel drive versions. NHTSA gave the Yukon five stars for frontal crash tests, five stars for side crash tests and three stars for rollover tests.
The Yukon XL also achieved a 4-star rating. It received four stars for frontal crash tests, five stars for side crash tests and three stars for rollover tests.
Across the entire Yukon line every model comes equipped with numerous safety features. Besides the usual front, front-side and side curtain airbags, models with front bucket seats come with the segment’s first front center air bag, which offers added protection for the driver and front passenger in side-impact crashes. A rearview camera is standard along with stability control, traction control, trailer sway control, hill start assist and anti-lock brakes. Also available is side blind zone alert, lane change alert, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, crash imminent braking and adaptive cruise control.
GMC prices the Yukon in four general categories representing various size and trim levels.
The 2015 Yukon SLE is priced from $48,185 and $56,670 for the SLT. Add $3,000 to the base price for four-wheel drive.
The Yukon Denali is priced from $63,770. With four-wheel drive, larger wheels, and package options that include a sunroof, a rear-seat entertainment system, power retractable assist steps, adaptive cruise control and a head up display, this model tops $75,000.
A two-wheel drive Yukon XL is priced from $50,885 for the SLE and $59,370 for the SLT. Again, add $3,000 to the base price for four-wheel drive. Choose the Yukon XL Denali and this model is priced from $66,470. Fully optioned, the XL Denali retails for about $80,000.
The 2015 GMC Yukon successfully meets the needs of large families, sports-minded people and anyone else who needs a traditional, full-size sport utility vehicle.