2014 Yukon XL 1500 New Car Test Drive
The GMC Yukon XL is a great choice for towing cars, boats, horses, and travel trailers when enclosed space is needed for passengers or cargo. Yukon XL is offered in 1500 and 2500 versions.
Maximum towing capacity ranges from 7800-8100 pounds for a Yukon XL 1500 model, and about 9500 pounds on a Yukon XL 2500. (Subtract 1500-2500 pounds if the Yukon is fully loaded with people and cargo.) With its long wheelbase and full-size truck construction, the Yukon XL is a stable platform for towing while offering the interior cargo advantages and three-row seating of a full-size SUV.
Yukon XL is GMC's version of the Chevrolet Suburban. As the XL suggests, the Yukon XL is extra-long, 20 inches longer than the standard-length Yukon. Like the Suburban, the Yukon XL seats seven to nine people, depending on configuration. While many vehicles will seat seven, few have so much room left over for cargo (three sedan trunks of space).
Yukon XL Denali is a luxurious model that compares well to the Cadillac Escalade ESV. Denali comes equipped with a larger engine and automatic rear load-leveling (both shared with the Escalade).
Inside is a comfortable cabin. We found the optional leather seats comfortable. The driver sits way up high for a commanding view of the road, and the pedals power-adjust to fit short and tall drivers. The instruments and gauges are among best in class, elegantly clean yet very functional. Interior small items storage is intelligently designed and all over, including a huge center console.
Second-row passengers will find a lot of leg room in the Yukon XL. Heated bucket seats with a center console between them are available for the second row, turning them into first-class accommodations; and there is a power folding option, making it easier for third-row passengers to climb by. There's even decent legroom and headroom in the third row.
Yukon offers a choice of V8 engines, all with flex-fuel capability, variable cam timing and active fuel management to shut off cylinders when not needed. GM's 5.3-liter Vortec V8 is the standard choice and makes 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. We enjoyed its smooth power. The 5.3-liter gets an EPA-estimated 15/21 miles per gallon City/Highway, with 2WD or 4WD. Flex-fuel versions of the 5.3-liter V8 are available that can run on E85 ethanol, though use of less-efficient ethanol drops fuel economy significantly.
Yukon XL Denali boasts a 403-hp 6.2-liter V8. Denali is offered with two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, the latter an excellent aid for inclement weather but not designed for serious off-road use. Denali comes standard with the AutoRide active electronic suspension, which is optional on the regular Yukon XL. Denali models get an EPA-rated 14/18 mpg with 2WD and 13/18 with AWD. Note that EPA ratings vary considerably, see www.fueleconomy.gov for comparison shopping.
Yukon XL 2500 models come with a 6.0-liter iron-block V8 rated at 352 hp, 382 lb-ft of torque, EPA 10/16 and 10/15 mpg, with 2WD and 4WD, respectively. Yukon XL 2500 is designed for heavy use, as are all of its mechanical components.
Yukon XL and Denali models use a 6-speed automatic transmission. They all have a Tow/Haul mode that reduces upshifting and downshifting, and also shifts quicker, so the transmission doesn't work so hard when pulling a big load. Transmission oil temperature is part of the instrumentation on most models.
Convenience features include a power rear liftgate, a new 10-speaker Bose surround-sound system, a navigation system, and a DVD rear-seat entertainment system. Rearview cameras are standard with navigation and available for others with display in inside mirror.
The current-generation GMC Yukon XL dates from 2007, but it has been improved and refined since then. A Champagne paint and automatic grade braking are new for 2013.
Yukon XL competes with Ford Expedition EL, Suburban, and, if cargo space isn't as critical, Toyota Sequoia and Infiniti QX56. Yukon XL Denali alternatives include the Lincoln Navigator L, Cadillac Escalade ESV, and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class.
The 2013 GMC Yukon XL 1500 comes in SLE, SLT and Denali trim levels. It's also available in 2500-series SLE and SLT versions.
The Yukon XL SLE 2WD ($45,230) and 4WD ($48,020) and the better-equipped SLT 2WD ($49,465) and 4WD ($52,200) come standard with a 5.3-liter V8.
The Yukon XL 2500 SLE 2WD ($46,720), 2500 SLE 4WD ($49,560), 2500 SLT 2WD ($51,095), and 2500 SLT 4WD ($53,940) come with a 352-hp 6.0-liter V8 with 382 pound-feet of torque and 6-speed automatic.
Yukon XL SLE standard equipment includes three-zone automatic climate control, rear audio controls with headphone jacks (you supply headphones), power front bucket seats and center console, AM/FM/CD/MP3/XM sound system; Bluetooth; cruise control; OnStar Directions & Connections with a six-month subscription; driver information center; power windows/locks/heated mirrors with manual folding; leather-wrapped, tilt steering wheel with audio controls; 40/20/40 split front bench seat; six-way power driver's seat; 60/40 split folding second-row bench seat; 50/50 third-row split folding seat; automatic headlights; roof rails (with crossrails on 1500); side steps; locking rear differential; three power outlets; P265/70R17 all-season tires on bright aluminum wheels; tow hooks; tow package (receiver hitch, seven-pin wiring harness); intermittent rear wipe/wash; and floor mats. 4WD models also get an aluminum-block engine, 3.42:1 axle ratio, and front tow hooks. Options include a Convenience package ($1060) with adjustable pedals, remote start, rear park assist, rearview camera; integrated trailer brake controller ($200); Z71 off-road package ($560); two-speed transfer case ($100); 20-inch wheel packages; rear-seat entertainment ($1295); and towing package ($330).
Yukon XL SLT models add leather upholstery with heat for the front row, auto-dimming inside mirror, rear park assist, remote start, adjustable pedals, and universal remote. SLT options include Autoride suspension with rear self-leveling ($1120), second-row bucket seats ($590), Sun, Entertainment and Destination package with navigation, rear-seat entertainment, and moonroof; power side steps ($1095); heated/cooled front seats ($650); Blind Zone Alert ($500); and power release second-row bench.
Yukon XL Denali ($59,350) and Denali AWD ($62,435) come with a 403-hp 6.2-liter V8 and Autoride active electronic suspension with rear load-leveling. Denali models come fully loaded, with a wood and leather-wrapped, heated, power-tilt steering wheel; heated first- and second-row seats; 12-way power front seats with lumbar adjustment; memory for the driver's seat and mirrors; power-folding second-row seats; removable three-passenger split-folding third-row seat; power-folding exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals, driver's side auto-dimming and reverse tilting; rain-sensing wipers with heated washers; power liftgate; Bluetooth; HDD navigation integrated into a Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound audio system and including voice activation, XM satellite radio, and a rearview camera; added noise insulation and cooling capacity; Side Blind Zone Alert; and 20-inch wheels and tires (18-inch wheels are available for poor roads, tire chains). Options are limited. The Denali's own Sun, Entertainment and Destination Package ($2535) bundles a power sunroof with rear-seat entertainment and other equipment. Rear entertainment is also available separately ($1,295), as are power side steps ($1095). A range of wheels are available, up to 22-inch chrome ($2995).
Safety equipment on all models includes dual frontal airbags; seat-mounted side-impact airbags for the front row; head-protecting curtain side airbags; four-wheel-disc anti-lock brakes; StabiliTrak, GM's electronic stability control with anti-rollover mitigation and traction control; LATCH child safety seat anchors; and a tire pressure monitor. Side blind zone alert is standard on Denali but not offered on other models. Options include rear park assist and two rearview camera choices.