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If it's large, American luxury that you want, you would be wise to look at this year's Yukon XL 1500 from GMC. With an overall length of 222.4 inches and a wheelbase that stretches a mighty 130 inches, it's the largest SUV available from the storied General Motors brand. Even at first glance, it's easy to see that the Yukon shares underpinnings and most of its looks with the Chevrolet Suburban. But, while a base Suburban can feel sort of utilitarian, the Yukon feels decidedly more, well, plush.
The 2013 Yukon sports an updated chrome grill and sharper headlight design. Inside, it sets aside some of the Suburban's faux-woodgrain dash trim for brighter polished aluminum. There's seating for as many as nine people, and available video screens for all rows. A premium nine-speaker Bose sound system comes as standard, as well as tri-zone automatic climate control.
A 320-horsepower 5.3-liter Vortec engine powers the Yukon XL 1500. With ratings of 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway, it's a thirsty SUV -- but still beats the Ford Expedition by one mile per gallon. Opt for the 6-liter V8 in the 2500, or the Denali and its 6.2-liter V8, however, and fuel economy ratings dip under the Expedition's.
All Yukon engines offer GM's VVT system, which enables them to run on only four cylinders when full power isn't needed. Also available is an engine-brake feature for towing to avoid excessive brake degradation on downhill grades.
The 1500 and 2500 can both be had with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive; the Denali even has an available all-wheel drive system, which is handy if you live in an area prone to foul weather.
Starting at $58,775, the Denali is the most expensive Yukon trim level available. Its 6.2-liter Vortec V8 produces 403 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque -- a big step up from other trims. The multilink rear-suspension is also a major upgrade from the leaf springs in lesser Yukons.
The Denali also has an available full-time all-wheel drive system for those who may live in areas that are prone to poor weather. Four-wheel disc antilock brakes come as standard, as do some great interior features like heated leather seating and steering wheel, and a fantastic 9-speaker Bose sound system. The Denali is loaded with luxury and plenty of entertainment for everyone.
Starting at $44,655, the SLE is the most affordable trim level available. While it may be missing some premium features -- standard leather seating, for instance -- the SLE is still a capable and comfortable SUV. Standard equipment includes a Bose sound system and power front seats; a Bluetooth phone system; and a 5.3-liter Vortec V8 that produces 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. The SLE is more than able to pull anything from the family boat to the bike trailer.
If you're looking for more interior features and a lot more chrome, the SLT may be the right trim for you. Standard equipment includes: heated leather seats and steering wheel; a satellite navigation system; remote start; and power-adjustable pedals. Options include a power-assist rear liftgate and rear captain's seats.
The standard engine offers you more power at a lower price
The King Ranch edition gives you Denali-like features for a lower price, but not nearly as powerful
Best in-class standard towing capability at 7,400 pounds
Interior feels a bit cheap, but the exterior is sharp-looking