2012 GMC Yukon XL 1500 Review
By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating:
What's New for 2012
GMC's full-size 2012 Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs represent the biggest, boldest SUVs around. Sharing their platform and interior layout with the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, the Yukon twins add a bit more upscale feeling to the design, with the Denali trim treading close to Cadillac Escalade territory. Beyond the styling differences, what really sets the 2012 GMC Yukon XL apart from the Ford Expedition EL and Toyota Sequoia is its available 2500 3/4-ton model that provides more towing and hauling capacity than anything in its class (outside of GM, that is). The 2012 GMC Yukon (twin to the Chevy Tahoe) is slightly shorter and doesn't offer the 2500 model, but it can be had with a hybrid powertrain that's EPA-rated at 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're not one who feels comfortable being pushed into a smaller crossover SUV just for the sake of fuel efficiency, the 2012 GMC Yukon Hybrid might be your savior. Those who need 9-passenger seating and the ability to tow up to 9,600 pounds will find a friend in the 2012 GMC Yukon XL 2500.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're seeking better fuel economy plus a smaller, more easily-maneuverable 8-passenger SUV-and towing capability isn't a high priority-then the 2012 GMC Acadia SUV is probably a better choice.
The 2012 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL receive some minor upgrades and equipment. A heated steering wheel is now available on SLT trims (except for 2500 models), and heated front seats are made standard on all SLTs. A third-row screen is added to Yukon XL models with the rear-seat DVD entertainment package, and trailer sway control and hill start assist are added to the StabiliTrak stability control system. The Denali trims gain side blind zone alert as standard equipment.
Driving the Yukon XL 1500
Unlike the truck based full-size GM SUVs of the past, the 2012 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL deliver a rather confident and civilized ride, with handling aided by numerous sophisticated...
electronic and mechanical suspension components, such as the StabiliTrak stability control system. The driving experience is made all the more confident thanks to a range of powerful V8 engines (5.3-liter on Yukon, 6.0-liter on Yukon XL and 6.2-liter on Denali) teamed with a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic. Passing power is decent for such a large and substantial vehicle, and the comfortable, compliant ride is sure to surprise many test drivers.
Active Fuel Management Technology
To date, engineers have yet to figure out how to make a massive SUV operate as efficiently as a compact sedan. However, by deactivating four of eight cylinders when less power is needed, the Active Fuel Management system helps drivers save gas whenever possible.
Optional on the Yukon XL SLT and standard on the Denali, this auto-leveling rear suspension system delivers a level of ride comfort that just may cause occupants to forget they're traveling in what is essentially a truck.
2012 GMC Yukon XL 1500 Details
Although the basic dash design, seat layout and colors are the same for the base 2012 GMC Yukon as they are for the top-of-the-line 2012 GMC Yukon XL Denali, there are variations on features and trim. All Yukons feature 3-row seating that can accommodate up to nine people. The 2012 GMC Yukon XL SUV's additional length means it provides a far larger cargo bay behind the third-row seat than does the standard Yukon. Front- and second-row passengers will find comfortable seats and decent legroom, although we think the Yukon's molded headliner is a bit low for really tall passengers to be comfortable. The 2012 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL's third-row seat is outdated, requiring it to be removed and stored to obtain a level load floor (the Ford Expedition's third-row seat folds flush into the floor). The third-row seat's design is also bulky, resulting in limited leg and foot room even with the sliding second-row seats moved forward. When the time comes to exit the rear-most seat, however, the second-row seats can fold and tumble forward, clearing a wide path.
If you think the 2012 GMC Yukon SUV looks big, park it next to a 2012 GMC Yukon XL and watch how quickly it disappears. At 222.4 inches in length, the Yukon XL rivals the lengths of the great 1970s land barges like the Cadillac Fleetwood and Lincoln Continental sedan. But, unlike their old Detroit-iron relatives, the 2012 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL are far more efficiently packaged and feature far more sophisticated (and safe) suspension setups. The build quality is quite good, with tight tolerances between body panels and body lines that align perfectly with the corresponding sheetmetal. Denali models take the styling treatment one step further, offering a chrome honeycomb grille, clear-lens headlamps, unique tail lamps and 20-inch polished alloy wheels. Hybrid models have a different front fascia with larger air inlets (to help cool the hybrid system) and squared-off D-pillar edges for improved aerodynamics. The 2012 GMC Yukon Hybrid also features a single-piece tailgate with fixed glass, as opposed to the standard Yukon's 2-piece hatch.
All 2012 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL models address safety with ABS, StabiliTrak and front-side and side-curtain airbags. Additionally, the base SLE version boasts triple-zone climate control, a Bose audio system with a USB port, a power driver's seat and a 5.3-liter V8 mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The mid-level Yukon XL SLT dresses things up a bit more with a rearview camera, power-adjustable pedals, leather upholstery, heated front seats and remote start. Finally, the decked-out Denali stands apart with its navigation system featuring XM's real-time NavTraffic service, heated and cooled front seats, a power liftgate, a 6.2-liter V8 and much more. The 2012 GMC Yukon Hybrid includes much of the SLT's equipment plus a 6.0-liter V8 teamed to a 2-mode electric motor/generator transmission.
Many of the top-of-the-line 2012 GMC Yukon XL Denali's standard features can be added to the SLE and SLT as optional equipment. These include the navigation system, heated and cooled front seats, power tilt-and-tumble second-row seats, the power liftgate and exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals. Depending upon the model selected, buyers can also opt to have the 2012 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL fitted with a rear DVD entertainment package, a blind-spot warning system, a power moonroof and power-retractable running boards.
Under the Hood
GMC offers its light-duty 2012 Yukon and Yukon XL SLE and SLT models with a 5.3-liter V8 capable of operating on regular gasoline or E85, a mixture of 85-percent ethanol and 15-percent gasoline. Output measures 320 horsepower and 335 lb-ft of torque with gasoline, or 326 horsepower and 348 lb-ft of torque with E85. The Denali's 6.2-liter V8 is also a flex-fuel engine, though there's no variation in its ratings of 403 horsepower and 417 lb-ft of torque. Heavy-duty Yukon XL 2500 models are fitted with a 6.0-liter V8 that delivers 352 horsepower and 382 lb-ft of torque. The Yukon Hybrid is fitted with a 6.0-liter V8 paired to a 2-mode system that employs two 60-kilowatt electric motors, three planetary gears sets and four hydraulic wet clutches providing continually-variable operation with four fixed gear ratios.
5.3-liter V8 FlexFuel
320 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm
326 horsepower @ 5,300 rpm (E85)
335 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
348 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm (E85)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 (gasoline), 11/16 (E85)
6.0-liter V8 FlexFuel
352 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm
382 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 10/16 (2WD), 10/15 (4WD)
6.2-liter V8 FlexFuel
403 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
417 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/18 (2WD, gasoline), 10/15 (2WD, E85), 13/18 (4WD, gasoline), 10/14 (4WD, E85)
6.0-liter V8 hybrid
332 horsepower @ 5,100 rpm
367 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/23
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