2015 GMC Yukon Reviews

2015 Yukon New Car Test Drive

Introduction

The GMC Yukon is all-new for 2015. What hasn't 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 that's 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. 

Yukon's 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 isn't, 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 you're there. The GMC Yukon XL is for the active group who wants full-size utility: adult-passenger room in three rows of seats, generous cargo capacity, towing ability. Four-wheel drive is available for rugged terrain and wintry conditions. Denali models are luxuriously equipped. 

Yukon XL is a longer version of the GMC Yukon, a relationship it shares with the Chevrolet Suburban, Cadillac ESV, Ford Expedition EL, and Lincoln Navigator L. Yukon XL doesn't tow any more than a regular Yukon but third-row room and cargo space improve notably and the longer wheelbase doesn't hurt in terms of towing stability. 

For 2015, Yukon XL is all-new. Some bits look familiar but everything has been redesigned, re-engineered or re-imagined. Both 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter engines are new, more powerful and more efficient, the latter paired to a new 8-speed automatic transmission. All Yukon XL models are available with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. 

Interiors have moved further upscale, and the new Yukon XL is very quiet, with less emphasis on four-wheel-drive utility than the original Yukons. New features include a head-up display, lane departure and forward-collision warnings, a vibrating seat alert, seven airbags in the front row, and wi-fi hotspot. Denali versions have a unique suspension and a hands-free power liftgate. 

Yukon XL has seats for 7-9 people and cargo space behind them equal to three sedan trunks. It can carry 1400-1650 pounds of people, gear and trailer-ball weight, and tow a three-ton trailer behind all that. Denali tow ratings are slightly lower but they have more power. 

The 5.3-liter V8 makes 355 horsepower smoothly, more than sufficient to move truck and moderate trailer down the road with ease. EPA ratings for a 4WD model are 15/22 mpg City/Highway, but who drives a Yukon XL empty? Denali's 6.2-liter V8 delivers 420 horsepower, 460 lb-ft of torque and rates 14/20 with four-wheel drive. Two-wheel-drive versions get one mile per gallon better. 

Denali bridges the gap between Yukon and Cadillac Escalade but shop carefully. Escalade ESV's greater feature content can push it near $100,000, while a Denali XL is nicely equipped at $80,000. And some options that appear identical cost more on the Denali XL than they did on the Yukon XL. 

Yukon XL's primary competitors are the roomier Ford Expedition EL, the Suburban, and the Toyota Sequoia. Yukon Denali XL better matches up against Lincoln Navigator L, Cadillac Escalade ESV, Lexus LX 570, Infiniti QX80, and Mercedes GL-Class. 

If you have no trailer to pull or don't need four-wheel drive and rugged chassis, then you might be better served by a luxury van or, if cargo room isn't paramount, a crossover such as the GMC Acadia. 

However, we think if you need any one or all of those attributes beyond rocky trails, we recommend the Yukon XL over the regular Yukon. Yes, it's 19 inches longer but still well less than a 20-foot garage, it requires only four feet more roadway to make a U-turn and offers adult third-row room, more than twice the luggage capacity behind it and more cruising range. For one mile per gallon and $3,000 we'd consider that a worthwhile tradeoff. 

Lineup

The 2015 Yukon comes with a 355-hp 5.3-liter V8, 6-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. Autotrac all-wheel drive adds $3000; four-wheel drive with low-range is part of a $650 HD trailering package. 

Yukon SLE ($46,990) comes with cloth upholstery, three-zone climate control, front bucket seats, 60/40 folding second/third row bench seats, leather wrapped tilt steering wheel, locking differential, Class IV tow hitch and 7-pin plug, 18-inch alloy wheels (full-size 17-inch spare), side steps, fog lamps, heated power mirrors, remote entry and start, rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, front/rear park sensors, Bose AM/FM/XM/CD/HD Radio with Pandora, Bluetooth, IntelliLink, and OnStar with 4G LTE, five USB ports, aux inputs, 4.2-inch color driver display, 110VAC outlet (150 watts) and 2-year/24,000-mile scheduled maintenance plan. SLE options include a driver alert package ($445); HD trailering package with integrated trailer brake controller, 2-speed transfer case, rear air suspension leveling and 3.42:1 axle ratio, $650), six types of 20 or 22-inch wheels; Convenience Package ($730) with power-adjust pedals and liftgate, universal remote, auto-dim inside mirror; cargo cover; 40/20/40 bench front seat ($250 delete); block heater and recovery hooks. 

Yukon SLT ($55,475) upgrades with leather upholstery, heated and cooled front bucket seats, heated 60/40 second-row seats with power release, power-folding third-row seats, pushbutton start and entry, driver alert pack, convenience pack, power-folding mirrors, heated power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, driver memory, wireless charging for compatible device, and blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning. Optional on SLT are an enhanced security package ($395) that deletes overhead sunglasses holder and conversation mirror; moonroof ($995); 20- or 22-inch wheels; adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation braking ($995); navigation ($495); heated second-row bucket seats ($590); rear Blu-ray entertainment ($1595); Open Road package ($3255) with navigation, rear Blu-ray entertainment, moonroof, and an additional nine months' SiriursXM radio and NavTraffic. 

Yukon Denali ($63,770) and Denali 4WD ($66,770) use a 420-hp 6.2-liter V8, 8-speed automatic, and the 4WD is Autotrac with low-range. Denali adds or improves on SLT with unique exterior and interior trim, active noise cancellation, magnetic ride control, rear air leveling suspension, 8-inch customizable instrument display, trailer brake controller, hands-free power liftgate, HID headlamps and 10-speaker Bose Centerpoint sound system. Available on Denali are a head-up display, recovery hooks, block heater, 22-inch wheels, power-retracting side steps, enhanced security package, moonroof, and adaptive cruise control with auto-braking. 

Safety features that come standard on all models include dual-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags for the front row, a between-seat center front airbag on bucket-seat models, three-row side-curtain airbags, electronic stability control system, OnStar, LATCH child safety seat anchors, tire pressure monitors, rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers and front/rear park sensors. Blind-spot, lane deaprture and cross-traffic warnings are available where not standard, and SLT and Denali offer adaptive cruise control with automatic braking. The 2015 Yukon XL comes with a 355-hp 5.3-liter V8, 6-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. Autotrac all-wheel drive adds $3000; four-wheel drive with low-range is part of a $650 HD trailering package. (The 2500-series version is no longer available.)

Yukon XL SLE ($49,630) comes with cloth upholstery, three-zone climate control, front bucket seats, 60/40 folding second/third row bench seats, leather wrapped tilt steering wheel, locking differential, Class IV tow hitch and 7-pin plug, 18-inch alloy wheels (full-size 17-inch spare), side steps, fog lamps, heated power mirrors, remote entry and start, rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, front/rear park sensors, AM/FM/CD/HD/SiriusXM/Pandora Bose audio system, Bluetooth, IntelliLink and OnStar with 4G LTE, 5xUSB and aux inputs, 4.2-inch color driver display, 110VAC outlet (150-w) and 2-year/24,000-mile scheduled maintenance plan. SLE upgrades include a driver alert package ($445); HD trailering pack with integrated trailer brake controller, 2-speed transfer case, rear air suspension leveling and 3.42:1 axle ratio, $450 on 2WD, $650 on 4WD), six types of 20 or 22-inch wheels; convenience package (power-adjust pedals and liftgate, universal remote, auto-dim inside mirror, $730); cargo cover; 40/20/40 bench front seat (-250); roof rails ($210); block heater and recovery hooks. 

Yukon XL SLT models ($58,175) add to SLE with leather upholstery, heated and cooled front bucket seats, heated 60/40 second-row seats with power release, power-folding third-row seats, pushbutton start and entry, driver alert pack, convenience pack, power-folding mirrors, heated power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, driver memory, wireless charging for compatible device, and blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning. Optional on SLT are an enhanced security package ($395), which deletes overhead sunglasses holder and conversation mirror; moonroof ($995); 20- or 22-inch wheels; adaptive cruise with collision mitigation braking ($995); navigation ($495); heated second-row bucket seats ($590); rear Blu-ray entertainment ($1,645); and an Open Road package ($3,035) with navigation, rear Blu-ray entertainment, moonroof, and an additional nine months' SiriusXM radio and NavTraffic. 

Yukon Denali ($66,470) uses a 420-hp 6.2-liter V8, 8-speed automatic. Denali adds or improves on SLT with unique exterior and interior trim, active noise cancellation, magnetic ride control, rear air leveling suspension, 8-inch customizable instrument display, trailer brake controller, hands-free power liftgate, HID headlamps and 10-speaker Bose Centerpoint sound system. Denali 4WD ($69,470) comes with Autotrac with low-range. Denali options include a head-up display, recovery hooks, block heater, 22-inch wheels, power-retracting side steps, enhanced security package, Open Road package, moonroof, and adaptive cruise control with auto-braking. 

Safety features on all models include dual-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags for the front row, a between-seat center front airbag on bucket-seat models, three-row side-curtain airbags, electronic stability control system, OnStar, LATCH child safety seat anchors, tire pressure monitors, rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers and front/rear park sensors. Blind-spot, lane departure and cross-traffic warnings are optional as is adaptive cruise control with automatic braking. 

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