2003 GMC Yukon XL 1500 Reviews

2003 Yukon XL 1500 New Car Test Drive


Completely redesigned just two years ago, GMC Yukon XL comes loaded with major changes for 2003 that add convenience, refinement, and reliability. 

Interiors have been redesigned with new seats, a new instrument panel, a new steering wheel with new controls, and new audio and climate control systems that are both more sophisticated and easier to use. The heating and air conditioning systems themselves have been improved for faster warm-ups and cool-downs. Brakes have been upgraded for improved performance and pedal feel. StabiliTrak and Quadrasteer, two great systems, are available on more models. 

Hate the way the doors lock every time you shift out of Park? Annoyed that the horn blows when you lock the doors? Don't want the daytime running lamps on? Turn those features off, turn them on, or deploy them partially. Everything is programmable. New Bose stereos, XM Satellite Radio, Panasonic DVD video, wireless headphones, independent controls, and auxiliary inputs galore should ensure everyone is happy for crying out loud. OnStar redirects you when you get lost or can help locate a good Italian restaurant. 

Other changes for 2003 are invisible, but important. New air bag systems offer improved safety. An all-new electrical architecture eliminates thick bundles of wires and hundreds of connections for improved reliability and easier repair. Engine improvements result in quicker throttle response, better reliability and lower emissions levels. 

Yukon XL remains an excellent choice for families who need three rows of seats on a regular basis. It can haul six to nine people and/or a boatload of cargo. Towing? You can pull a 12,000-pound trailer with a Yukon XL 2500, and you can tow that trailer quickly by opting for the Vortec 8100. That's right, 8.1-liters. 

Based on GM's excellent full-size truck platform, GMC Yukon XL and Chevrolet Suburban have much in common, but there are some key differences that go well beyond styling. As GM's upscale truck division, the GMC is available with more luxury features, more power, and better handling in adverse conditions than what's available from Chevrolet. At the top of the GMC model line is the Yukon XL Denali, an upscale version of the Yukon XL that comes with a powerful 6.0-liter V8 and all-wheel drive. 


Yukon XL is available with two-wheel drive ($37,405) or four-wheel drive ($40,105). It comes in two load ratings: Most popular is the standard 1500 model is rated to tow trailers up to 8400 pounds (8100 pounds with 4WD). The heavy-duty 2500 2WD ($38,905) and 2500 4WD ($41,605) are rated to pull trailers up to 12,000 pounds. Unless you're pulling heavy trailers, we recommend the 1500 model for its smoother ride quality. 

The base Yukon XL 1500 SLE is well-equipped and comes with the new automatic tri-zone climate control system. It also comes standard with power windows, three rows of seats, an eight-speaker stereo with CD player, cast-aluminum wheels and most other features associated with a premium vehicle. Upholstery is cloth. Front seats are a split bench with six-way power adjustments for the driver. 

Several trim packages are available, along with many stand-alone options. SLT ($3090) adds bucket seats with leather inserts, Bose speakers, assist steps (running boards), and rear-seat audio controls. SLT Plus ($5566) adds ultrasoft leather seating surfaces; full-function leather heated bucket seats with 10-way power, two-position memory, power lumbar support; heated, auto-dimming outside mirrors with turn indicators, ground illumination (puddle lamps); Driver Information Center; power-adjustable pedals; Security Package, which includes OnStar's Safe and Sound package, a universal transmitter, dual front side-impact airbags, steering wheel controls for audio and DIC; Cargo Package with cargo shade, cargo net, cargo mat, luggage rack center rails. 

Yukon XL Denali ($50,405) comes loaded with luxury features along with a more sophisticated full-time all-wheel-drive system and a bigger engine. A locking rear differential is standard on the Denali. 

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