By Keith Buglewicz
If you're buying a GMC Yukon or Yukon XL (the long and longer versions of the big SUV), GMC says there's a 60-percent chance you're getting one of the upscale Denali models. We understand. With its more powerful V8 engine and upscale interior trim, the Denali has offered high levels of content for a more reasonable price than luxury-branded competitors. However, with the 2015 GMC Yukon, we think the Yukon Denali version may actually expand its reach. Why? Because the standard 2015 GMC Yukon – with its new interior, new styling, and newfound refinement – is nicer than the old Denali ever was. That means the new 2015 GMC Yukon Denali moves even higher up the food chain.
If you need no-compromises hauling and towing ability, along with a no-compromises, first-rate interior, the 2015 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL are just the ticket. That goes double for the high-end Denali models.
If your hauling, towing, or family-hauling needs are more modest than the GMC Yukon demands, then the combined penalties of size, poor fuel economy and – in the case of the Denali – price, probably aren't worth it.
The 2015 GMC Yukon is all new, with new exterior styling, and a fresh and comfortably luxurious interior. But the changes are more than cosmetic: Under the sheet metal is a new chassis and suspension, and the two V8 engines are significantly improved for more power and better fuel economy.
Driving Impressions The 2015 GMC Yukon comes in two distinct flavors: standard and Denali. The standard-issue GMC Yukon is mechanically identical to its 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban...... counterparts. The same can't be said for the upscale Denali models, which have no Chevrolet counterpart. The more-powerful 6.2-liter V8 engine moves the Denali with authority, be it the standard or extended XL body. The upscale interior includes real poplar wood trim, aluminum accents with a burnished tint, an 8-inch TFT (less glare, visually sharper) display between the gauges, and our test model even had a head-up display. It also comes with Magnetic Ride Control, which helps give this heavy SUV a comfortable ride while simultaneously controlling body motions. Put it all together, and you have a luxurious, comfortable and well-controlled full-size SUV that's as at home on the highway as it is on a twisting mountain road.
FOLD-FLAT THIRD ROW
It has been a long time coming, but the GMC Yukon finally has a third row that folds flat. GMC had to add a little extra height to the load floor to make it work, but it's not wasted space – lift up a panel and there's hidden storage space.
MAGNETIC RIDE CONTROL
This technology allows this big SUV to handle like a much smaller vehicle. The secret is in the shock absorbers, which read the road and adjust their stiffness instantaneously, allowing this the Yukon to absorb bumps, but not wallow in corners. Too bad it's only available on the expensive Denali models.
This is where the GMC Yukon is head and shoulders above its predecessor, and where it sets itself apart from Ford, Nissan and Toyota competitors. The materials are first rate, the switchgear is logically arranged and feels high-class, and the driver's seat is exceptionally comfortable. The same is true for the second row, which can come with either a bench or a pair of captain's chairs. The third row is best for kids in a standard Yukon, but the XL manages grownups thanks to extra legroom. The new fold-flat third row makes it easier to maximize cargo room.Exterior
GMC's designers describe their inspiration for the 2015 Yukon as a "fist in the wind." Hokey, maybe, but it certainly is a good descriptor for the blunt, nearly brutish design of the front end. The Denali models share the same sheet metal as non-Denalis, but with a chrome mesh grille instead of the 3-element one on regular Yukons. Similar to the mesh design currently used, its new design adds depth. Still, it's a lot of chrome, and some think it's simply too much.
The 2015 GMC Yukon offers more features on the SLE base model than the Chevy Tahoe does on its LS, but it also costs more. Standard on all Yukon models are niceties like automatic windshield wipers, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, and fog lights. Step up to the SLT and you'll get leather seats, a power-folding second and third row, and safety tech like forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning. The Yukon Denali piles on the options, adding the 6.2-liter V8, upgraded interior and exterior trim, and Magnetic Ride Control to the SLT package.
The GMC Yukon is one of the few vehicles left with an available front bench seat, for a total of nine seating positions. Other notable options include a $3,255 entertainment package that includes rear-seat entertainment, navigation and a sunroof, and a $395 security package that adds interior motion detectors. On the Denali side of things, the Touring package costs $4,110 ($4,160 on XL models) and adds a sunroof, DVD for the second and third row, the theft-deterrent system, 20-inch wheels, and a head-up display. Retractable running boards ($1,795) and active cruise ($1,695) are also available.
2015 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL models come standard with a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission. This isn't a carryover engine though, as it boasts fuel saving technologies like Active Cylinder Management, which seamlessly shuts off half the cylinders under steady cruise. It also has direct injection, an advanced fuel-injection technology that improves fuel economy while simultaneously increasing horsepower and torque. Step up to the Denali and you step up in power with a 6.2-liter V8 that puts out 420-horsepower. It also features direct injection and Active Cylinder Management. All Yukons and Denalis are available with 4-wheel drive (4WD) with an off-road-ready low range.
355 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
383 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg (2WD); 15/22 mpg (4WD)
420 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
460 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 mpg (2WD); 14/21 mpg (4WD); 14/20 mpg (4WD XL)
The 2015 GMC Yukon costs a couple thousand dollars more than its predecessor, although you're getting more for your money. Base SLE trims with rear-wheel drive start a little above $47,000, while the more lavishly equipped SLT starts a little under $56,000. Yukon XL models start at about $50,000 for the SLE and $58,500 for SLT. As for the Denali models, the Yukon Denali starts at about $63,000, while the Yukon XL Denali starts at $66,000. If you want 4-wheel drive on any Yukon model, add about $3,000. Over the long haul, the GMC Yukon's resale value is about the same as its competitors from Ford and Nissan, and a bit below the Toyota Sequoia. Before you buy, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price for the 2015 GMC Yukon to find out what other buyers in your area are paying.
By an Educated Consumer on Wednesday, March 25, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Luxurious, Comfortable, Powerfull, New Design"
Cons: "Marginal fuel economy, Expensive."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"First and formost, may I assure prospective buyers of 2015 full-size GM SUVs- NOT to have any worries, nor should they take certain embellished reviews to heart! The majority of people writing reviews are those with a "negative" experience. Ceratinly those who are completely satisfied, like myself, represent the majority of owners, of the many thousands of such vehicles currently on the road in America. If someone comments that a problem affects "every" Yukon, please dismiss it immediately, because I can honestly attest that my 2015 Yukon has had absolutely NO issues, nor recalls! I took delivery of my Yukon Denali last summer(2014). I have equal highway as well as urban driving milage logged. My current mileage is near 10,000 miles. I have been incredibly impressed with the larger 6.2 liter V-8 engine, rated at 420HP. My 4WD system has demonstrated excellent performance during several heavy snow events. The Active Fuel Management System with cylinder de-activation is never noticeable, with the exception of improved fuel economy. Every feature and accessory that comes with this Lux-Ute like Digital Displays, Intellilink Navigation, Heated/Cooled seats, Audio and Video Entertainment systems, Vehicle Safety & Security with motion detection- have ALL functioned without any issues in my Yukon Denali. I am so impressed with the NEW design. The fit & finish of this truck is amazing compared to previous generations. I also looked at competing Brands, there is NO competition in the "under 85K price-range". Even then, my truck is so "MUCH-MORE" than the Infinity Q-80 in mass, power and structural integrity. Indeed, I am one of the few, wanting others to know that the silent majority of 2015 GM SUV owners are very pleased with the intelligent purchase they made. I encourage you to go take a Yukon/Tahoe for a ride and become your own Judge & Jury."
14 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By READ THIS BEFORE BUYING THE 2015 SLT on Monday, March 23, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,200overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "it's big and fits everything."
Cons: "the heated seats don't work."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Bought the car in dec '14 and it was in the shop w/1000K mi on it because the front seats heat up sporadically, if at all. the car's been in the shop 3X for a total of 7 days over the last 3 months. now the seats don't work at all and i can't get anything but sickly sweet platitudes from GM Detroit and the dealership. The 2015 seats are now heated by blowers that don't work and by mistake we turned on the A/C seat feature and the blowers are excessively loud. guess they won't work either when it's 100 deg outside. I googled recalls and there are 5 already. the other reviewer is correct when he says you'll get no response from GM unless it's deemed a safety hazard. it's been a nightmare. wish we still had our '05 yukon. buy a ford."
2 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By Honest review on Monday, March 16, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great ride, performance, handling"
Cons: "Navigation and vibration are show stoppers"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"If you are considering the purchase of a 2015 Yukon XL Denali, read this before you write a check to the dealer. GM has a customer service department that will document your vehicle issues but don’t expect them to do anything more than look for service bulletins and then tell you that the vehicle is working as designed. Of course, this statement will almost always be true! Don’t expect GM to address any design issues or to enlighten you about fixes that are in progress. In August of 2014, I purchased a 2015 Yukon XL Denali. My wife and I drove the new Denali across the US to Seattle and back for a total of 8600 miles. This trip gave me an opportunity to assess the 2015 Yukon Denali under real world travel conditions. I am sharing this review with you so that if you do buy this vehicle, you will do so with your eyes wide open. My wife and I like the ride and handling of the 2015 Denali (this is our 6th Denali/Yukon XL) but I would not purchase this vehicle again now that I have “tried” to use Intellilink and been subjected to constant vibration which GM says is “normal”. GM did release a software update (after refusing to admit that there were any problems) for Intellilink at the beginning of March. The update fixes 31 software bugs that affect your ability to use the radio and navigation systems. The update (#PI1375B) applies to almost every 2015 GM vehicle. Here is what you will like about the new Denali: Ride, handling, performance and fuel economy are excellent, I got 20+mpg on my trip across the US. Blind spot indicators work and will save you from crossing into another lane that has a vehicle in it. Heads-up display is great but don’t wear polarized sunglasses or it will disappear. In-cabin air filter keeps out some of the dust but get the dealer to change it because it is hidden behind the glove box. The cooled front seats will increase your comfort on a hot day but be prepared to listen to the noisy fans. Rear windshield wiper has been moved to the top of the rear window which is an improvement. The rear camera has guide lines that move when you turn the steering wheel which is pretty cool and they are accurate. Heated steering wheel feels good on cold days. Now for the issues list: The truck vibrates from 1200-1600 rpm when the engine is in 4cyl mode. The vibration is bad and GM refuses to admit that it is a defect. All of the 2015 Denali’s have this problem, not just mine. Intellilink is probably one of the worst pieces of software that has ever been written. There are too many issues to list. Some of them may be fixed by the recent software update but I haven’t had a chance to test the fixes. Bottom line is that you can forget about using the navigation system unless the update is applied. Don’t think that GM will notify you when they fix anything that isn’t labeled a “safety problem”. Non-safety fixes don’t even show up in the recall DB. Your only option is to call the dealer every week and ask them if GM has fixed anything related to your vehicle. The headlights produce great light but the projector lenses cut the light off with a sharp horizontal line that is not far enough down the road for you to see any distance. The problem is compounded if you drive on any roads that are not perfectly level. The dealer adjusted my lights and now I can see a comfortable distance but oncoming cars flash their lights at me. I guess they are a little too high. The carpet in the cargo is too Velcro friendly. If you let a Velcro strap from you clothing or baggage touch the carpet, you will pull some of the carpet off because it sticks so well. Don’t look for the automatic lift gate option referred to in the manual or the WiFi hotspot capability because it is not available. Plan on paying more for OnStar if you want to use the Remote Link application on your mobile phone to interface with you vehicle and even more if you want to download maps to the onboard navigation system. The 120v AC outlet is a nice feature but it doesn’t provide enough wattage (150 watts) for much of anything other than charging your cell phone. Don’t let your passenger carry the second key FOB. When both key FOBs are near the vehicle, it gets confused. Memory settings are unpredictable and the alarm sounds if one of you stays in the vehicle. The sun roof has a net that pops up when you open the roof. The purpose of the net is to reduce wind turbulence when driving at highway speeds which it does. Unfortunately, it makes so much noise that you will be forced to close the roof. It also catches bugs. The USB ports work but they don’t provide enough amperage to charge a Samsung S4 if you are actively using the phone. If I haven’t convinced you to wait until these vehicles are worthy of the $75,000 price tag, make sure that you check the paint carefully. Mine has a sliver dollar size defect in the paint on the driver’s side that sticks out like a sore thumb every time I get into the vehicle. I noticed that these vehicles are not being delivered to dealers at this time (March 9, 2015), probably because they don’t work. If you still have to have this vehicle, take one for a test drive at night and have your passenger give the navigation a try. Or better yet, try to rent one for a trip. The phone number for GM Executive offices is 855-435-7284. Write it down because you will need it!"
6 people out of 24 found this review helpful