2008 Yukon New Car Test Drive
Faced with rising gas prices and eco-protests, the market for full-size SUVs has seen better times. General Motors answers the call for better fuel economy with the 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid. Equipped with the new two-mode hybrid system, the Yukon Hybrid gets an EPA-rated 21 mpg City, matching ratings with a four-cylinder Camry.
The entire GMC Yukon lineup was completely redesigned and re-engineered last year and carries into 2008 with few changes other than the addition of the Hybrid model. The Yukon rides on the same superb platform as the Chevy Suburban and Silverado.
Yukon offers power, space, and towing capacity. It can haul large loads of gear, it can survive repeated pounding over rugged terrain, it can pull heavy trailers, all while transporting four in luxurious comfort.
Inside, the Yukon features a simple, elegant dash that hints at aspirations for entry-luxury status. The Yukon is available with seating configurations for five to nine passengers. Seating in the first and second rows has plenty of room, but the third row is best left for kids and has to be removed for maximum cargo space.
Engine choices include four V8s. The popular 5.3-liter V8 engine provides plenty of power and has a system that shuts down half the cylinders under light loads to improve fuel economy. The Denali model's 6.2-liter V8 generates 380 horsepower and comes with a six-speed automatic, making it almost as fuel efficient as the 5.3-liter and one of the more powerful offerings in the class. The new Hybrid powertrain features a 6.0-liter V8 boosted by two electric motors. The Hybrid delivers 332 horsepower and fuel economy that rivals some sedans. The Yukon is rated to tow up to 8200 pounds when properly equipped, enough to tow cars, boats and horses; the Hybrid has less towing capacity.
Ride and handling characteristics are typical of large SUVs. The Yukon leans in turns and is not agile. The ride quality, on the other hand, is impressive, even with the Denali's available 20-inch polished wheels that add a touch of high fashion trendiness.
We found the new two-mode hybrid system worked seamlessly. The system uses two electric motors in GM's new Electrically Variable Transmission (EVT) that has four fixed gears. The EVT is mated to a 6.0-liter version of the 6.2-liter V8 that also has Active Fuel Management. Total output is 332 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. One of the motors aids power at low speeds and the other lends a hand at highway speeds. With just a little throttle, the electric motor can propel the Yukon up to 30 mph. Get on it a little harder, and the gasoline engine kicks in just as smoothly as in any Toyota hybrid. Like other systems, the gasoline engine turns off at stoplights and restarts as soon as it's needed.
The better news is Hybrid fuel economy. With 2WD, the Yukon Hybrid is rated at 21 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway. With 4WD, those numbers are 20 city/20 highway. The 2WD city number matches that of the four-cylinder Toyota Camry, though the highway number is substantially less than the Camry's 31 mpg. While the Hybrid has considerably less towing capacity at 6000 pounds with 4WD and 6200 pounds with 2WD, that's still enough for the Hybrid to be used for many towing needs.
The 2008 GMC Yukon lineup offers a choice of four different V8 engines. Four models are offered: SLE, SLT, Denali, and the new Hybrid. All are offered with 2WD or 4WD, except the Denali, which comes standard with all-wheel drive. The available four-wheel drive (4WD) is a full-time system that can be driven on dry pavement and has low-range gearing. The Denali's all-wheel-drive system lacks low-range gearing.
The GMC Yukon SLE 2WD ($34,790) comes with a 295-hp 4.8-liter V8 and a four-speed automatic transmission. The SLE 4WD ($38,590) comes with a 320-hp 5.3-liter V8 with Active Fuel Management and the four-speed automatic. Also available is the 5.3-liter V8 with AFM and E85 Flex-Fuel capability.
SLE models come standard with cloth upholstery; dual-zone manual climate control front and rear; six-way power driver's seat; leather-wrapped, tilt steering wheel with audio controls; AM/FM/CD/MP3, eight-speaker stereo with XM satellite radio; OnStar assistance with one year subscription; driver information center; power windows, cruise control, heated and foldable power mirrors; auto-dimming rearview mirror; 40/20/40 split front bench seat with manual recliners; 60/40 split folding second-row bench seat; automatic headlights; roof rails; side steps; locking rear differential; three power outlets; P265/70R17 all-season tires on bright aluminum wheels. A 3SB package for SLE ($1,965) and SLE 4WD ($975) adds the Flex-Fuel 5.3 V8 (2WD), front bucket seats, a power front passenger seat, a front center console, rear radio and climate controls, and fog lights. A Convenience Package ($765) has rear-obstacle detection, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable pedals and remote engine starting.
SLT 2WD ($38,990) and 4WD ($41,800) come standard with the 5.3-liter V8, but the 4WD model gets the Flex-Fuel version. SLT adds leather upholstery, front bucket seats, front center console, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear controls, six-disc CD changer, rear seat audio controls and outputs, universal garage door opener, fog lights, remote engine starting, front tow hooks. A 4SB option package for SLT ($4,100) adds heated, 12-way adjustable front seats with lumbar adjustment; power adjustable pedals; memory for the driver's seat and mirrors; a third-row two-passenger split folding bench seat; power-folding exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals, driver's side auto-dimming, and reverse tilting; and a roof rack.
Options include navigation ($2,250), rear-seat DVD entertainment ($1,295), sunroof ($995), rearview camera ($250) when the navigation system is ordered. The Sun, Entertainment and Destination package ($3790) includes a navigation system, rearview camera, rear DVD entertainment, and a sunroof. A Z71 Off-Road Suspension package for the 4WD SLT ($230) includes a heavy-duty air cleaner, skid plates, off-road suspension, 265/70R17 on/off-road tires and unique alloy wheels. The third-row seat comes in two forms: two-passenger ($360 SLE, $760 SLT) and three-passenger ($460 SLE, $860 SLT).
Also available: power liftgate ($400), roof rack cross bars ($45), power release for the second row seat ($425), heated second-row seats ($200), P275/55R20 tires on polished alloy wheels ($1,795), universal garage door opener ($105), nine-speaker Bose sound system ($495), six-disc CD changer ($300), power retractable running boards ($1,095) and remote starter ($175). Finally, by way of cold weather, towing and off-road options, but again only on some models, buyers can order one of two lower rear axle ratios ($100), an engine block heater ($75), a heavy duty transmission oil cooler ($95), a windshield washer fluid heater ($85), off-road skid plates ($150), and Autoride suspension with variable shocks and air-assisted rear load leveling ($1,120).
Denali ($48,250) has a 380-hp 6.2-liter V8 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift feature. It comes fully loaded, with a wood and leather-.