Monster trucks. While the Japanese have the smaller end of the SUV segment sewn up, the full-size end of the market is unashamedly American. GMC’s Yukon is the kind of vehicle that wouldn’t work on any other continent; XL versions are almost 19 feet long, making it difficult to park in certain environments even here. It’s easier to drive than you’d expect, but clambering behind the wheel may intimidate smaller drivers, and underground car parks aren’t for the faint of heart.

The payoff is a genuinely impressive amount of interior space. You can fit up to nine people inside, though our preferred cabin configuration involves a pair of second-row captain’s chairs ahead of a third bench. Middle occupants in an XL enjoy an indulgent 42 inches of legroom, while the choice of captain’s chairs provides easier access to the back alongside wide rear doors. Standard models can accommodate 26 cubic feet of cargo behind the third row, increasing to a maximum of 123 with only the front seats in use. In XL guise, these figures rise to 41 and 145 respectively, thanks to an additional 15 inches of length.

A very comfortable place to be. Not only is the Yukon ballroom-big inside, but it’s also very comfortable. The front seats deserve particular praise for cushioning you during long drives – even the cloth variants fitted to base SLE models. On the move, the independent suspension takes the sting out of any road surface. All-wheel drive is a $3,000 option on all but the AT4 trim, where it’s standard. An electronically limited slip diff is a good option in northerly states, and we’d also recommend specifying AWD if there’s any risk of snow. With that caveat, this is a fine-handling rig, with 22-inch wheels offered on flagship Denali models for extra grip.

Interior quality improves as you move up the range, with the Denali’s dash standing apart from the simpler finish on lesser trims. These are fitted with a 10.2-inch touchscreen that governs the in-car infotainment. We’d skip base SLE trim in favor of SLT – it costs $7,000 more but includes ventilated front seats, wireless smartphone charging, and a Bose audio system. AT4 is another $7,000 more, while an extra couple of grand secures you a Denali, complete with adaptive suspension and a sunroof. The truly deep-pocketed might wish to consider the Denali Ultimate, a new trim for the 2023 model year which offers largely hands-free highway driving and further electrical niceties.

2023 GMC Yukon Interior

Plenty of power… Let’s start by stating the obvious – there are no hybrid or EV options here. Even the smallest Yukon engine is a 5.3-liter V8 producing 355 hp, capable of pulling 8,400 lb in certain configurations. If that’s not enough, the 6.2-liter V8 generates a mighty 420 hp, adding a mellifluous soundtrack into the bargain. No such aural pleasures from the three-liter turbodiesel, though it’s by far the most efficient powerplant here if you can forgive its sluggish acceleration from standstill before the turbo spools up. The combined fuel economy of 16 mpg is returned by AWD 5.3-liter models and all V8s, whereas the diesel can achieve 23 mpg in RWD or 22 with all four wheels driven.

…but safety is a concern. We’ve said it before, but bigger doesn’t necessarily mean safer. It’s alarming that the Yukon only received a four-star NHTSA safety rating – a rare thing these days – while the IIHS has yet to test it. The NHTSA findings are identical to the Chevrolet Suburban, which shares most of the Yukon’s oily bits and much of its standard safety kit. That means there’s plenty of tech to help you out, with a variety of cameras allied to blind-spot monitoring (which you’ll need to park it) and automatic emergency braking.

Final thoughts. You’ve probably already made up your mind about the Yukon. Some people will survey the 19-foot XL with its 16 mpg fuel economy and shudder at this brash relic of the internal combustion age. Others will be seduced by the supersized nature of everything – the engines, the rear side doors, the number of speakers fitted to Denali Ultimate models – if not the price tag. Denali models can cost over $75,000, though that’s still cheaper than a top-end Suburban.

If you want to go down the full-sized SUV route, the Yukon represents a fine choice. It’s surprisingly good to drive and very comfortable to be driven in, with acres of room (especially in the center row) and plenty of toys once you move past the cheapest SLE trim. Although all-wheel drive is a recommended option, we’d avoid the AT4 trim, which is trying to turn the Yukon into a Land Rover-esque off-roader when it feels more at home in the outside lane of a freeway. Specify a massaging driver’s seat and Super Cruise, and the Yukon will pilot itself while soothing your knotted muscles, making it the perfect companion on a long drive.

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