CarsDirect Review

Our Take: 2019 GMC Yukon

, Contributing Editor -

In an era of crossover utility vehicles, traditional SUVs almost seem like an outlier. Yet, models such as the 2019 GMC Yukon and the extended wheelbase Yukon XL provide the room and utility that customers prize. A pair of big V8 engines move the Yukon, supplying top power and utility.

Best Value

The 2019 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL are full-size SUVs. The difference between the two has everything to do with the wheelbase, which adds 14 inches on the XL. That extension benefits third-row leg room and cargo space.

GMC offers four trim: SLE, SLT Standard, SLT, and Denali. Most models have a 5.3-liter V8 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Denali models come with a 6.2-liter V8 engine and a new 10-speed automatic transmission.

Standard features include fog lights, 18-inch wheels, power-controlled and heated side mirrors, a luggage rack, a tilt steering wheel, cloth seats, three-zone climate control, a nine-speaker audio system, OnStar, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Our chosen SLT Standard Edition adds such features as a power liftgate, a manual tilt and telescopic steering column, leather-appointed heated front seats, and additional driver-assist safety features. Here’s how we’d build our best value Yukon:

  • Model: 2019 GMC Yukon SLT Standard Edition
  • Engine: 5.3-liter V8 engine
  • Output: 355 hp / 383 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Six-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
  • MPG:15 City / 22 Hwy
  • Options: Heavy-Duty Trailering Package ($580, suspension package, integrated brake controller, 3.42 rear axle ratio), Open Road Package ($3,430, audio system with navigation, rear seat entertainment system with Blu-Ray playback, a power sunroof, satellite radio, NavTraffic service)
  • Base Price:$55,995 (including a $1,295 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$60,005

Performance

GMC Yukon

All Yukon models except for the Denali and a special SLT package come with a 5.3-liter V8 engine with 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. We found the engine satisfactory, although the 6.2-liter V8 with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque is better suited for this SUV. Moreover, GM pairs this engine with a new 10-speed automatic transmission, which unfortunately isn’t teamed with the standard V8 engine. Regardless, both transmissions shift smoothly and work well under heavy loads.

The standard engine delivers ample step-off acceleration and generous passing power. This SUV stays planted for the most part, with body roll on twisty roads kept to a minimum. Its steering is light to the touch, although the Yukon’s girth is always evident.

Style

Traditional SUVs have a body-on-frame design. Similarly, they’re boxy with a big grille, massive hood, strong shoulders, and a long body. The GMC Yukon ticks off these requirements and offers its own take on style, including its swept-back headlights.

Inside, the cabin is big, but the third-row area is tight, especially in the Yukon. If you’re looking to house seven or eight adults in comfort, the Yukon XL is the right choice here. In any case, we like this GMC’s curvy, symmetrical dash, which is punctuated by an eight-inch color display. If you want luxurious embellishments such as chrome and imitation wood trim, the Denali does it. Otherwise, we think most people will be satisfied with either one of the middle two trims, as these offer a satisfying blend of amenities and value.

The Best and Worst Things

GMC offers powerful engines, which ensures that these big SUVs have no lack of power even under strenuous conditions. That said, the engines consume a lot of fuel, despite cylinder deactivation that shuts down half the cylinders under certain conditions.

Right For? Wrong For?

GMC YukonLarge families and outdoors enthusiasts are naturally attracted to the GMC Yukon and the Yukon XL. Seating for up to eight makes this ideal for some families, while a towing capacity of up to 8,500 pounds appeals to the outdoors set.

On the other hand, the GMC duo may be too big and expensive for some customers. Fortunately, a GMC Acadia or a Buick Enclave should satisfy the vast majority of utility vehicle shoppers who still want generous passenger room and storage space.

The Bottom Line

The 2019 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL deliver what certain customers want and do so faithfully. Prices, however, can climb quickly, putting this SUV outside the reach of some consumers. That said, the Denali trim certainly is gorgeous, delivering premium features few mainstream models can match.