New 2018 GMC Yukon XL SUV New 2018
GMC Yukon XL SUV

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

Built in Texas and now in its fourth generation, the 2018 GMC Yukon and its longer sibling, the Yukon XL, are great choices for large active families and those who need to tow a boat or RV. The new Yukon is a full-size SUV with seating for as many as eight passengers and offers a plethora of tech-based active safety systems. The SLE and SLT trim levels are powered by a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8, while the more luxurious Denali models are equipped with a 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 and a 10-speed automatic transmission from Cadillac’s Escalade. That’s the most horsepower in the full-size segment where the Yukon competes with the Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada, Toyota Sequoia and its mechanical twins, the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban.

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You'll Like This SUV If...

If size does matter you’ll like the 2018 GMC Yukon. It’s big. And the Yukon XL is even bigger, providing interior volume and cargo space that make the Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia look like little hatchbacks. It’s also handsome, luxurious and its features list reads like a luxury car’s.

You May Not Like This SUV If...

If you just need a people-mover with seating for seven or eight passengers, there are more fuel-efficient and less gargantuan SUV options out there like the popular Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9 and GMC’s own Acadia. The Yukon also costs more than the very similar Chevy Tahoe and Suburban.

What's New for 2018

GMC has turned up the dial on the top-line 2018 Yukon Denali. There’s a sculpted new chrome grille with active aero shutters that close off airflow on the highway to increase fuel economy. Also, HID headlights with cool LED daytime running lights and a new 10-speed automatic transmission.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

On the road the new 2018 GMC Yukon wonderfully combines the attributes of a full-size luxury sedan, a muscle car and a Peterbilt. It’s smooth, comfortable and quiet on the highway, maneuverable, powerful and easy to drive in the city, and like a big rig it scares off pesky other drivers looking down at their phones. Like the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, the new 2018 Yukon SLE and SLT trims offer the same 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8. Visibility is excellent, the Yukon’s steering is light and it rides admirably, despite its antiquated solid-axle rear suspension.

Move up to the Denali, however, and you’ll get a 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower on tap and a slick 10-speed automatic transmission. Shifts are smooth, and because of the gearing, torque and power are better distributed. The result is an even ride with a generous amount of power when needed. Denali trims also employ Magnetic Ride Control, a system that features self-adjusting shock absorbers that continually adapt to changing road conditions for a uniform and luxurious ride over any surface.

Favorite Features

SAFETY SEAT ALERT
GM’s clever Safety Alert Seat, which is standard on the Yukon SLT and Denali, provides haptic vibration pulses in the driver’s seat-bottom instead of audible crash-avoidance alerts. The patented system works with the SUV’s other safety systems like Forward Collision Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

LOW RANGE 4WD
GMC’s Autotrac 2-speed active transfer case remains in 2-wheel drive (2WD) until the system detects wheel slippage, then it automatically engages 4-wheel drive (4WD) until traction is regained. It also allows you to manually engage 4WD at any speed, and it has a low range for off-roading fun and adventure.

Vehicle Details

Interior

Stepping inside the 2018 GMC Yukon, particularly the Denali, will quickly inform the owner that this purchase was money well spent. The artful and flowing shapes are enticing, materials are first-rate, the control layout is easily accommodating and detailing is impeccable. The seats are comfortable, and the second row offers space for full-size adults. In the Yukon the third row is best for the kids but, in the longer XL, there’s room for grown-ups. Those 3rd-row seats fold flat into an elevated floor that slightly diminishes vertical cargo space, something you won’t find with the Ford Expedition or Nissan Armada.

Exterior

GMC’s Yukon designers had a tough assignment. Style a truck that looks richer than a Chevy Tahoe, but it can’t be as blinged-out and upscale as a Cadillac Escalade. That’s right, the Yukon is the Jan Brady of GM’s full-size SUV family, but this middle child is a looker with a pleasing combination of soft curves and strong purposeful lines. All models share sheet metal, but Denalis get a new-for-2018 chromed-out grille, HID headlights and LED daytime running lights. The standard wheels are 18 inches in diameter, but there are many to choose from up to 22 inches.

Notable Standard Equipment

The base 2018 GMC Yukon SLE offers more standard features than the Chevy Tahoe LS, but it’s also more expensive. The standard-equipment list on all Yukons includes front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, and IntelliLink, with an 8-inch-diagonal touch screen, AM/FM/SiriusXM, Bluetooth streaming audio, onboard 4G LTE Wi-Fi and a host of other features. The SLT adds leather, heated and ventilated front seats, power-folding 2nd- and 3rd-row seats, the Enhanced Driver Alert Package, a hands-free liftgate and numerous convenience items. The Denali adds the 6.2-liter V8, upgraded interior, Magnetic Ride Control and no small amount of on-road respect.

Notable Optional Equipment

GMC’s 2018 Yukon is one of the few vehicles still available with a front bench seat, giving nine seating positions. Second-row captain’s chairs are also available. The SLE can be equipped with the Enhanced Driver Alert Package and a Convenience Package that brings a power liftgate, power adjustable pedals and remote garage-door opener. The Yukon SLT and Denali are available with the Open Road Package, which includes navigation, rear-seat entertainment with Blu-ray and a sunroof. The Denali also offers a wide selection of wheels, up to 22 inches. A Trailering Package increases the Yukon’s tow rating to 8,500 pounds.

Under the Hood

As standard equipment 2018 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL models have a 5.3-liter V8 making 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The highly appealing Denali has a take-no-prisoners 6.2-liter V8 of 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. It works with a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Both engines feature the efficiency benefits of direct gasoline injection and Active Cylinder Management, which seamlessly shuts off half the cylinders during steady cruising to save fuel. Even with these technologies, Yukons are too big to be gas-savers. Still, the engines are strong, capable and well-proven, and will get the jobs done. All Yukons and Denalis can be 2WD or 4WD, the latter with an off-road-appropriate low range.

5.3-liter V8
355 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
383 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg (2WD), 16/22 mpg (4WD) , 15/22 mpg (4WD XL)

6.2-liter V8
420 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
460 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/23 mpg (2WD), 14/22 mpg (4WD), 14/23 mpg (2WD XL) 14/21 mpg (4WD XL)

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Pricing Notes

The base SLE 2018 Yukon starts with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $50,000, the comprehensively equipped SLT is about $59,000 and the Denali just over $67,000. For XL models the SLE starts just closer to $52,500, the SLT is slightly over $61,000 and the Denali starts around $70,000. Four-wheel drive is $3,000. In all cases, options can push prices way up. These prices are above those for competitors from Nissan and Toyota but, the newly redesigned 2018 Ford Expedition starts around $52,500. In any case, before signing the deal, check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the 2018 GMC Yukon. In resale value the Yukon has historically been on par with the Ford Expedition and Nissan Armada and well below the Toyota Sequoia, but the 2018 Yukon is closing the gap.

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