By KBB.com Editors
With seating for up to nine people, substantial towing capacity and aspirational appeal, GM's biggest family haulers have in the past accounted for more than 60 percent of full-size SUV sales. GMC's version, the 2009 Yukon, bridges the gap between its Chevrolet Tahoe and Cadillac Escalade siblings with a lineup that includes a base model priced similarly to the Tahoe, as well as a distinctive Denali model that can approach Escalade prices when fully loaded. While the faithful Yukon continues to serve millions of families well, the impressive 2009 Yukon all but antiquates the previous generation, which seems light years apart in styling, quality and interior materials.You'll Like This Car If...
Even if you don't need its maximum seating or towing capacities, the 2009 GMC Yukon shines on enough levels to satisfy the needs and tastes of almost any full-size SUV buyer. That it also has some of the category's best fuel mileage is a definite plus, as is the optional hybrid model.You May Not Like This Car If...
nlike the Ford Expedition, Dodge Durango and Nissan Armada, none of GM's full-size SUVs feature a fold-flat third-row seat. The rear-most seat is removable in two 50-pound sections, but for anyone that's grown accustomed to the convenience of a fold-flat third row, this could be the Yukon's deal-breaker.What's New for 2009
Content levels increase across the board with a new six-speed transmission standard on 5.3-liter models. The third-row seat option is now standard on all Yukons, as is OnStar 8.0. New options include Bluetooth hands-free communication, a rear back-up camera with rearview-mirror view screen and a third-row DVD entertainment system. Exclusive to the Denali are optional heated and cooled seats and the Side Blind Zone Alert system.Driving It Driving Impressions
With a stiff, fully-boxed frame, revised suspension and greatly improved steering and braking characteristics, the 2009 GMC Yukon is by far the best handling full-size SUV ever to wear a GMC badge. It responds with confidence to both the driver and the road while also providing more accurate feedback. Crisp and alert around town (for a tall SUV weighing well over 2.5 tons, of course), comfortable and stable on the highway, the latest Yukon provides the driver a level of confidence unapproached by its predecessors – an experience good enough to qualify GMC's newest full-size SUV as one of the category's best.Favorite Features
Power Fold-and-Flip Second Row
Accessing the third row is made easier with power fold-and-flip second-row seats that can also be activated by the driver or front passenger via roof-mounted switches.
Vehicles this big benefit the most from rearview cameras that let the driver see what's lurking behind the back bumper.
The 2009 GMC Yukon's interior can be configured with any number of seating positions from six to nine, with each row available in two- or three-passenger layouts. Other seating options include leather, first-row heated seats and power fold-and-flip second-row seats (all standard on the Denali). Getting past the seats, the Yukon's passenger cabin is so attractive, comfortable and refined as to make the previous-generation's cabin feel downright old-fashioned. Where lower-cost materials still exist, they aren't as conspicuous as in the past. Again, the vehicle's weakest link in some people's eyes will be the lack of a fold-flat rear seat.Exterior
The 2009 GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Tahoe are most differentiated up front, with each sporting its own grille, hood, fascia and headlights. The variation continues down the sides and to the back with unique trim, wheels and taillamps. Yukon Denali models are further distinguished by a signature perforated grille, modified headlights and taillamps, revised front and rear fascias, distinctive 18-inch wheels (with unique 20-inchers available), chrome-accented side moldings and unique side steps.Notable Standard Equipment
A base Yukon features a four-speed automatic transmission, two-wheel drive and a 4.8-liter V8 engine. Other standard features include manual dual-zone air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, power heated mirrors, eight-speaker AM/FM/CD-MP3 sound system with auxiliary audio input, OnStar, cruise control, Driver Information Center, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and outside temperature display, height-adjustable leather steering wheel and a cloth interior featuring a 40/20/40-split bench up front (with power driver's portion), a 60/40-split bench in the middle row and a third-row seat. Outside, a base Yukon is equipped with 17-inch aluminum wheels and a tow package. Standard safety equipment includes driver and front-passenger airbags, three-row head-curtain airbags, electronic stability control with rollover mitigation, tire-pressure-monitoring system and Antilock Braking System (ABS).Notable Optional Equipment
Yukon powertrain options include a traditional 5.3-liter V8, a Flex-Fuel 5.3-liter V8 capable of running on gasoline and/or E85 ethanol, plus a four-wheel-drive system. The Yukon Denali's exclusive powertrain consists of a 6.2-liter V8, six-speed automatic transmission and full-time all-wheel-drive system. Optional equipment that's standard on Denali includes a power liftgate, power fold-and-flip second-row seats, ultrasonic rear parking assist (standard on SLT), power-adjustable pedals, upgraded audio system, automatic climate control, active damping system and power-folding exterior mirrors. Optional even on Denali are a rearview camera, power-retractable side steps, navigation system, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, 20-inch wheels, heated and cooled front seats, power-adjustable steering column and a power sunroof.Under the Hood
The Yukon powertrain lineup consists of four V8 engines, four- and six-speed automatic transmissions (the latter with tap-up/tap-down gear selection), plus two-, four- and all-wheel drive. A Flex-Fuel version of the 5.3-liter V8 performs almost identically to the gasoline-only 5.3-liter engine but will also run on E85 ethanol – a "biofuel" produced in part using renewable materials like corn. Both 5.3-liter engines feature cylinder-deactivation technology that imperceptibly "turns off" four cylinders under light loads and helps the Yukon achieve what GM claims to be the best fuel economy in the category. Maximum towing capacity on four-wheel-drive models is 8,200 pounds.
295 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
305 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19
310 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
335 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD), 14/20 (4WD)
5.3-liter V8 Flex-Fuel
310 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
335 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD, gasoline), 10/15 (2WD E85), 14/20
(4WD, gasoline), 10/15 (4WD E85)
403 horsepower @ 5700 rpm
417 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19 (gasoline, 2WD), 10/14 (E85, 2WD), 12/19(gasoline, 4WD), 9/14 (E85, 4WD)
The 2009 GMC Yukon's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts above $37,000 and can run as high as $53,000 for a fully-loaded Yukon SLT. The well-equipped Yukon Denali starts just under $50,000 and will creep close to $56,000 when outfitted with all the options. Our Fair Purchase Prices, which have real-world transaction prices for the entire lineup, are at or very near MSRP. Base Fair Purchase Prices for competitors like the 2009 Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia and Nissan Armada range from about $32,000 to $36,000, while the V8-powered Dodge Durango Adventurer is selling for about $33,000. Be sure to check the Fair Purchase Prices to see what Yukons are currently selling for in your area. As for resale value, we expect the 2009 GMC Yukon to hold its value as well or better than anything else in the category, although resale figures for the entire segment are down significantly compared to 2008.