By KBB.com Editors
Essentially mechanically identical to Chevrolet's Suburban, the 2009 GMC Yukon XL rides on General Motors' full-size SUV platform. Half-ton 1500 and heavy-duty 2500-series models are available, with rear- or four-wheel drive. The standard engine size is a 5.3-liter V8, available in either gasoline or flex-fuel versions (the latter can operate on E85), with 6.0-liter V8s optional. Or, buyers may step all the way up to an extravagant Yukon Denali with its class-leading 403-horsepower 6.2-liter V8, all-wheel drive and upgraded level of features and luxury appointments.You'll Like This Car If...
If you frequently need to carry plenty of cargo along with a sizable group of passengers, the full-size 2009 GMC Yukon XL is one of the few available choices. Yukon XLs are loaded with equipment, but the sticker price rises rapidly if you select a few options – or move all the way up to the plush, top-of-the-line Denali.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you like to breeze past gas stations without worrying about what it's costing you to get down the road, a Yukon XL won't bring smiles – despite the new multi-displacement system that improves fuel economy.What's New for 2009
Content levels increase across the board with a new six-speed transmission standard on all trims. New options include Bluetooth hands-free communication, a rear back-up camera with rearview-mirror view screen and a third-row DVD system. Exclusive to the Denali are optional heated and cooled seats and the Side Blind Zone Alert system.Driving It Driving Impressions
The Yukon XL – especially in Denali form – is a refined, if flamboyantly oversized, family and cargo hauler. The six-speed automatic transmission, now standard on all XLs, responds with less harshness than the old four-speed and with less-noticeable delays. We also noticed a richer exhaust note from the 6.2-liter V8 than the 5.3-liter engine. Despite energetic start-off acceleration, it's not quite as vibrant when passing. Ride quality in the Denali is hardly truck-like at all, and it feels secure in curves. Expressways are the Denali's strong point, where an appealing ride blends with excellent stability and easy control.Favorite Features
Active Fuel Management Technology
Don't expect gas-mileage miracles from the new cylinder-deactivation system, but, when dealing with heavy vehicles, even a modest fuel-economy improvement is worth the effort.
Available real-time damping lets a Yukon XL cross the line from acceptable ride comfort into a tempting – perhaps even delightful – road experience. You won't forget you're in a truck, but an Autoride-equipped Yukon XL promises more pleasant hours on long hauls.
With space for up to nine occupants, depending upon the seating configurations for the individual rows, the 2009 GMC Yukon XL delivers great passenger comfort in a spacious interior. A lower-positioned instrument panel helps add leg space, front seats have fore-and-aft and recline travel and second-row seats recline, as well. There is ample second-row leg and knee room, third-row headroom and second- and third-row shoulder room. The third-row seats fold, but not flush into the floor as on the Ford Expedition. The spilt third-row-seat sections are removable, but can prove awkward and heavy. The Yukon's glove boxes are huge, and available power fold-and-tumble second-row seats ease third-row access.Exterior
The Yukon XL boasts wraparound front and rear fascias and integrated running boards. GMC claims this is the most aerodynamic Yukon to date, helped by a sleek 57-degree windshield angle. The XL's 130.0-inch wheelbase and 222.4-inch overall length compare to 116.0 and 202.0 inches, respectively, for regular-size Yukons. Wide tracks enhance stability. Doors extend over the rocker panels and larger headlamps deliver improved lighting spread. The XL Denali gets chrome accents, a distinctive honeycomb grille, unique headlamps with etched GMC logos, clear-lens taillamps and 18-inch polished wheels.Notable Standard Equipment
The SLE includes Stabilitrak, head-curtain airbags, 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear air conditioning, XM Satellite Radio, heated power mirrors, roof rails, side steps, 5.3-liter V8, a six-speed automatic transmission and rear privacy glass. SLT versions have leather appointments and front bucket seats, remote engine start and a cargo cover. The XL Denali includes Autoride suspension, the 6.2-liter V8, a power liftgate, power release second-row fold-and-tumble bucket seats, power-adjustable pedals, heated windshield washers, an auto-dimming inside mirror, RainSense wipers, remote start, Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist, a six-CD changer, Bose 10-speaker Centerpoint Surround Sound audio, "Nuance" leather-covered seats, heated first- and second-row captain's chairs and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with genuine wood accents. All Yukon XL models have GM's OnStar 8.0 which is now Bluetooth-compatible.Notable Optional Equipment
Some tempting extras are available for the Yukon XL, including a power liftgate, sunroof, remote starting system, navigation system, DVD entertainment and heated steering wheel. Heated seats are offered for the first and second rows. Other options include power-retractable articulating assist steps (running boards), 20-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers, Ultrasonic Rear Parking Assist, a rearview camera system and Autoride, GM's real-time damping suspension. Exclusive to the Denali trim are heated and cooled front seats, Side Blind Zone Alert system and a power-tilt steering wheel.Under the Hood
The Yukon XL 1500 has a standard iron-block 5.3-liter V8 that produces 310 horsepower, and a 6.0-liter V8 is optional. Yukon XL Denali models have a 6.2-liter V8 that generates 403 horsepower. In the heavy-duty 2500 series, an iron-block 6.0-liter V8 with variable valve timing makes 352 horsepower. With the exception of the 2500's iron-block 6.0-liter engine, all XL V8s operate with Active Fuel Management technology, and the 5.3-liter V8 is available with E85 compatibility.
310 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
335 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD)
5.3-liter V8 Flex Fuel
310 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
335 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 10/15 (2WD, E85), 11/14 (4WD, E85), 14/20 (2WD, gasoline), 14/19 (4WD, gasoline)
366 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
376 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD); 12/17 (4WD)
352 horsepower @ 5400 rpm
382 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19 (2WD), 12/17 (4WD)
403 horsepower @ 5700 rpm
417 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19
In base SLE trim with two-wheel drive the Yukon XL 1500 starts around $42,000, while the midrange SLT with two-wheel drive stickers for around $46,000. A fully-loaded Denali with all-wheel drive has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) over $55,000. Four-wheel drive adds about $2,800 to the SLE and SLT prices. The heavy-duty Yukon XL 2500 models have stickers ranging from the low- to high-$40,000 range. The Fair Purchase Price, which represents what consumers are actually paying, will be somewhat lower. Be sure to click on Fair Purchase Prices to check what the Yukon XL is currently selling for in your area. In terms of resale value, the Yukon XL 1500 with two-wheel drive is expected to retain only average values over time; four-wheel-drive models do slightly better. Resale figures fall below Toyota's Sequoia and are on par with Nissan's Armada and Ford's Expedition. GMC's Yukon XL Denali has a higher expected retail value than the standard XL.