The biggest challenge for the 2015 GMC Yukon is not cornering the full-size body-on-frame SUV market. Between it and its kin the Chevrolet Tahoe and supersized Yukon XL and Suburban, GM has essentially owned that segment for years. Instead, it must contend with up-and-coming unibody SUVs, which are often quieter, more comfortable and more fuel-efficient. The revamped Yukon proves that you don't have to give up capability, comfort or fuel economy when opting for a body-on-frame sport/ute.
A Fine Precision Tool
The new Yukon feels more precise in every way than the previous generation. It's almost as if the design philosophy, which gives the new SUV sharper, more precise angular lines and an edgier attitude, translated to the vehicle's mechanicals.
Visually, there is no question this is a GM SUV, yet the design has evolved. That is the same case inside, where the leather-lined cabin looks much more elegant and luxurious than in the past, while its appearance and the amenities are wonderfully modern. Our tester, a fully loaded SLT (only topped by the Denali in the GMC food chain) cost a stunning $65,515. One of the features it came with was IntelliLink, GMC's infotainment system, which is fairly easy to use. There are also plenty of USB ports, and connecting via Bluetooth is a snap. The seats are comfortable, and the interior is surprisingly quiet.
Acceleration is quick (for a 6000-pound vehicle), thanks to the 355 horsepower that comes from the 5.3-liter V8, and the Yukon happily cruises along on long stretches of highway. Its ride is comfortable without being mushy, but does let in some small bumps and road imperfections. Transmission shifts are smooth and well-timed, again feeling crisper than in previous Yukons. There are plenty of handy tools onboard to help with parking, but we would love to see a vehicle this size come with something like Nissan's Around View Monitor.
SUV or Crossover?
When it comes to choosing between a Yukon and something like GMC's Acadia, which does cost significantly less, the decision would probably come down to the vehicle's use. If you want to tow over 5,500 pounds and/or have a genuine 4-wheel drive system, the Yukon is the clear choice. The Yukon also offers more legroom in the first two rows but doesn't have the Acadia's Smart Slide second row to make it easier to get into and out of the third row. With its comfortable ride, speedy V8 power -- and only a 1 highway mpg penalty with 4WD compared to the Acadia's V6 and all-wheel drive (16/22 versus 16/23) -- and all the improvements GMC has made to the Yukon for the 2015 model year, the choice between SUV and crossover is now tougher than ever.
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