The GMC Yukon is a big, comfortable family hauler that doubles as a workhorse towing machine. It’s got a chiseled exterior and a soft, upscale interior. Check the Denali box and you’ll get a loaded road warrior that allows the whole family to spread out through three spacious rows. Choose the extra-long Yukon XL version and you’ll get even more room to haul people and their stuff.
The 2019 GMC Yukon has a pair of V8 engines – a 5.3-liter and a 6.2-liter – that can save fuel by running on four cylinders at highway speeds. The 5.3-liter V8 develops 355 horsepower and sends 383 lb.-ft. of torque to the rear wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 6.2-liter V8 cranks out 420 Horsepower and sends 460 lb.-ft. of torque to the wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is an available option on the regular Yukon as well as the XL.
My test Yukon XL Denali had the 6.2-lter engine, which makes even the stretch Yukon get up and go. And thanks to cylinder deactivation, active aerodynamic shutters and other fuel-saving technologies, this big SUV gets better mileage than you’d expect. The sticker on my test Yukon XL 4WD promised it would take me 20 miles down the highway or 14 miles on city streets using a single gallon of gasoline. The rear-drive model is rated at 23 highway mpg.
And the Yukon has a maximum towing rating of more than 8,400 pounds, which is easily enough to tow most boats and other toys. The Yukon, especially the XL, isn’t going to go very far off-road because of its size, but it’ll do a great job of getting you and your boat to the launch.
On the road, the Yukon handles surprisingly well. The ride is comfortable and body roll in cornering is not significant. If you’re headed to the beach or mountains on vacation, the Yukon is a great way to do that.
Inside the cabin there’s plenty of room to spread out in three rows. The kids are best suited for the Row 3 powered seats that fold flat into the floor via buttons near the liftgate, which by the way is hands-free and programmable. An active noise cancellation system makes the cabin quieter, so you can better enjoy the 10-speaker Bose surround sound audio system.
Infotainment features an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, and the system supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The vehicle is also a 4G LTE wi-Fi hotspot with internet connections for up to seven devices. Wireless phone charging is standard up front, and the Yukon has USB ports and accessory power outlets, including a 110-volt plugin.
The driver’s information center – also eight inches – is customizable and has a terrific heads-up display to help keep the driver’s eyes on the road. The Denali Ultimate package adds a power sunroof, rear-seat entertainment, a longer SiriusXM Radio free period, a security package, power retractable running boards, adaptive cruise control with automatic collision preparation, 22-inch wheels and premium paint accents.
Other standard Yukon features include tri-zone air, keyless entry with pushbutton start, a tilt and telescoping heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear captain’s chairs.
If you plan to regularly carry the softball team or take lots of trips to panhandle beaches, the XL Denali would be your best bet. With 225 inches of overall length, (more than 20 inches longer than the regular Yukon), the XL has three rows of seating plus enough room for several big suitcases behind the third row.
My test Yukon XL Denali had nearly 40 cubic feet of space behind Row 3. Fold the third row down and you’ve got 76.7 cubic feet. Fold both the second and third rows down and there’s a cavernous 121 cubic feet of space.
When it comes to safety, the Yukon gets four overall stars in the government’s crash tests but has not been tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Yukon has a full complement of airbags as well as advanced safety technologies like forward collision alert, lane change alert with blind spot assist, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, low speed automatic braking and a rearview camera with rear cross traffic alert.
2019 GMC Yukon XL Denali 4WD
Engine: 6.2-liter V8
Horsepower/Torque: 420/460 lb.-ft.
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Price: ($81,940 includes options & freight)
EPA mileage estimates: 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway/16 mpg combined
Estimated Highway Range: 620 miles
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