By KBB.com Editors
Despite the ever-rising cost of gasoline, many car shoppers either can't or don't want to jump on the small-and-efficient bandwagon. Whether accommodating a large and active family or delivering pickup truck-like capability, the full-size SUV continues to serve very real needs. One of the better current options is the 2011 GMC Yukon XL, available in light-duty 1500 and heavy-duty 2500 guises; two-, four- and all-wheel-drive configurations; and trim levels covering the expanse from well-equipped to stuffed-to-the-gills. Three V8 engines are included in the lineup, all working with a standard six-speed automatic transmission.
Despite rising fuel costs and a general shift toward smaller vehicles, there remains a need for large SUVs capable of carrying three rows of passengers and a generous amount of cargo, either in the trunk or a towed trailer. One of the few options is the impressive GMC Yukon XL.
If you like fuel efficiency, firm handling, commendable maneuverability, and pricing on par with a minivan, the 2011 GMC Yukon XL (and its competitors) is guaranteed to disappoint.
The latest edition of the GMC Yukon XL arrives with an updated version of OnStar, including six months of complimentary enrollment in the Directions and Connections plan.
Driving Impressions Unlike previous iterations, the current-generation Yukon XL 1500 is marked by a polished, refined driving character. The overall experience is enhanced by a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission mated to one...of two capable V8s, though the Denali's larger engine provides noticeably better off-the-line acceleration as well as a throatier exhaust note. 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.
Housed within the 2011 GMC Yukon XL's sleek (for a full-size SUV) exterior are three rows of seats that accommodate up to nine passengers. Front- and second-row occupants are granted plenty of overall room and comfort, with wide-opening doors adding the bonus of easy entry and exit. The third-row bench is a dated design, meaning the cumbersome sections don't fold into the floor and must be removed to maximize cargo space. This approach also results in limited leg and foot room, though the second-row seats do slide forward and can be equipped with a handy power fold-and-tumble feature.Exterior
Compared to nearly every other new car, truck or SUV, the GMC Yukon XL is a behemoth. With 222.4 inches of bumper-to-bumper length stretched over a 130-inch wheelbase, it's easy to understand how this luxed-up work vehicle qualifies as full-size. But, as is the case with some people, the Yukon XL carries its weight well. Behind the rather nondescript headlights is a body with clean and smooth styling, a look that owes some credit to tight panel gaps. The Yukon XL Denali is distinguished by a chrome honeycomb grille, unique headlights and taillights, and 20-inch polished alloy wheels.
All 2011 GMC 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 six-speed automatic transmission. The mid-level Yukon XL SLT dresses things up a bit more with a rearview camera, power-adjustable pedals, leather upholstery, 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 lift gate, a 6.2-liter V8, and much more.
Many of the top-of-the-line 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 buckets, power tilt-and-tumble second-row seats, the power lift gate, and exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals. Depending on the model selected, buyers can also opt to have their 2011 Yukon XL fitted with a rear DVD entertainment package, a blind-spot warning system, a power moonroof, or power-retractable running boards.
GMC offers its light-duty 2011 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 gas. Output measures 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque with gasoline, or 326 horsepower and 348 pound-feet 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 pound-feet of torque. Heavy-duty Yukon XL 2500 models are fitted with a 6.0-liter V8 that delivers 352 horsepower and 382 pound-feet of torque.
5.3-liter V8 FlexFuel
320 horsepower @ 5400 rpm
326 horsepower @ 5300 rpm (E85)
335 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
348 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm (E85)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 (gasoline), 11/16 (E85)
6.0-liter V8 FlexFuel
352 horsepower @ 5400 rpm
382 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 10/16 (2WD), 10/15 (4WD)
6.2-liter V8 FlexFuel
403 horsepower @ 5700 rpm
417 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/18 (2WD, gasoline), 10/15 (2WD, E85), 13/18 (4WD, gasoline), 9/13 (4WD, E85)
By MySilverBullet on Friday, July 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Easy to drive, 8 passenger, and very comfortable."
Cons: "Some paint coming off the front bumper."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought my 2011 Yukon XLT in April of 2012. The first thing I did was check the mpg. I had traded in a 2006 Dodge Dakota V6. My Dodge got 19.8 MPG on my 1 hour trip to work. This Yukon V8 gets 18.9 MPG on the same trip. I was worried it was going to suck down the gas. But it doesn't. It probably has to do with the engine switching from V8 to V4 when cruising on the highway. 80 percent of my commute is highway. Just went to Florida with 4 people and a weeks worth (and probably more) worth of stuff. Went through the WV mountains and the Yukon still got 17.6 MPG on the trip. It's VERY comfortable especially on a trip. It is a huge vehicle... but even my wife finds it easy to drive and even easy to park. We bought it because our 5 passenger vehicles weren't large enough to carry myself, my wife, and our two children with a friend each. Now we can carry 8 passengers and everyone is comfortable. In the last 75,000 miles, I've only had to do oil changes and a set of tires. I got a great deal on it at only $34K at one year old with 23,000 miles. Very happy with the car and would buy another one if I could get a similar deal."
3 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By jima on Wednesday, July 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great vehicle. comfort level excellent"
Cons: "large and needs some getting used to. wife loves i"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"10th yukon/suburban. If limited to only 1 vehicle, this would be it due to room, versatility and quality."
13 people out of 26 found this review helpful
By Jack on Wednesday, June 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great vehicle. Gets 23 MPG on the highway. Great i"
Cons: "No Cons"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Purchased this vehicle while on vacation. This was an emergency purchase. My old vehicle conked out in Maine, on the way home to NJ."
23 people out of 38 found this review helpful
By Luke on Wednesday, June 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive"
Cons: "Poor fuel mileage with the Acitve Fuel Management"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I own a 2008 Serria Denali without Active Fuel Management and it gets a little better fuel mileage with the same engine."
5 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Josh on Saturday, June 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 117,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Very happy with this vehicle that we purchased used two years ago. While not great on MPG, very comfortable ride with many great features my wife and family enjoy."
5 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Howard on Friday, June 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 71,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great value and a pleasure to drive!"
Cons: "I would design a better center console for me!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I travel for a living, some days I will drive over 500 miles, most of those are on the Interstate. I could not ask for a more solid and dependable vehicle. It's a smooth ride, very stable, no drifting and holds the road well. When I have been in inclement weather, snow and ice, handles like a dream in all wheel and when needed the 4-wheel option gets the job done. This is my third GMC and I would not buy anything but this vehicle...keep it serviced and it will never fail you. I have never known them to burn a drop of oil,(I burn Synthetic by choice) I rotate my tires with each oil change and run Michelin by proven performance, I change my tires every 50,000 miles and they could easily go 20,000 more miles. Like I said, take care of it and it will take care of you for a long time. My fuel economy is tracked on the computer where the average MPG is 17.5...I have 4 Captains Seats and a duel rear bench seat. I take care of my car and it shows...many comment that it looks like new!"
8 people out of 15 found this review helpful