New 2019 GMC Yukon XL SUV New 2019
GMC Yukon XL SUV

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

The GMC Yukon and its extended-length variant, the Yukon XL, are the mechanical twins of the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, respectively. The Yukon Denali, meanwhile, is so plush you might mistake it for these models’ luxury sibling, the Cadillac Escalade. All three of these full-size GM sport-utility vehicles are built in the same factory in Arlington, Texas. The GMC variant stands out with its own design aesthetics, and aims to have a slightly more upscale feel than its Chevy counterparts. As a traditional body-on-frame 3-row SUV, it excels at towing and hauling, but as with its kin and Ford Expedition rival, trades some efficiency and comfort for its rugged capabilities. For 2019, the optional and larger of its V8 engine choices can be had on a lower-grade trim.

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You'll Like This SUV If...

If you want a full-size, 3-row SUV with standard V8 power and seating for seven, eight, or even nine passengers, the GMC Yukon brings big size, big capability and big, handsome looks. Need all that, but even bigger? There’s the extended-length Yukon XL. The Yukon Denali, meanwhile, has near-Cadillac levels of refinement and premium features, including a 6.2-liter V8 engine.

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, easier-to-drive, less expensive and less gargantuan crossover-SUV options out there like the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander or GMC’s own Acadia. The Ford Expedition, meanwhile, boasts a higher tow rating and fresher features.

What's New for 2019

The 2019 GMC Yukon adds an aggressive-looking Graphite Edition for the mid-grade SLT trim that includes 22-inch wheels, blacked-out aesthetics and unique suspension. Building on that is the Graphite Performance Edition, which includes the more powerful 6.2-liter V8, 10-speed transmission and magnetic ride control that were formerly reserved for the top-line Denali edition.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

As with its Tahoe and Escalade brethren, the GMC Yukon shows how far GM’s full-size SUVs have come. Though still based on sturdy truck-like body-on-frame construction, the Yukon is quite comfortable considering it also has the capability to tow over 8,000 pounds and go off-roading. Its ride manners shine best on long and wide highways. Opting for magnetic ride control further smooths the driving experience by constantly monitoring and adapting the suspension to quell road imperfections. There’s no denying the size of the Yukon, even in standard form and especially in the longer Yukon XL. It can be a handful in parking lots and a squeeze to put in a garage, so make sure you measure yours first if you plan to park inside. The Yukon’s standard 5.3-liter V8 engine is a potent and gratifying workhorse. We’ve used it to pull trailers and RVs, climb grades and meander along Interstates. It’s always up for the task at hand and rarely feels out of breath. Standard on the 2019 Yukon Denali and now available on the mid-grade SLT trim if you opt for the Graphite Performance Edition is the larger and more powerful 6.2-liter V8. With 420 horsepower/460 lb-ft of torque on tap, it will happily squeal the tires if you lay into it. The base V8 engine remains paired to a mostly smooth 6-speed automatic transmission, while the 6.2-liter V8 uses a refined 10-speed automatic. Unlike a crossover SUV, the 4-wheel-drive system available on the Tahoe is the real deal, with legit low-range gearing thanks to a 2-speed transfer case.

Favorite Features

GRAPHITE PERFORMANCE EDITION
Opt for this package, and you can get the Yukon’s bigger and more powerful engine without quite having to spend Denali money. Whereas that top-line Yukon starts at nearly $68,000, you can get an SLT variant with the 6.2-liter V8, 10-speed transmission and other goodies for a few thousand less.

ENHANCED DRIVER ALERT
Safety is paramount when driving, especially so when you’re piloting a 5,000-plus-pound SUV. This package adds active-safety features like forward-collision warning with automatic braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist. It’s standard on SLT trims and a bargain at only $545 extra on base SLE models.

Vehicle Details

Interior

As with the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL are among the few new vehicles other than a van that can seat up to nine passengers. The caveat there is you’ll have to go with the base SLE trim and then opt for a bench seat in front. Far more buyers will choose the more comfortable bucket seats up front, making total passenger count eight. Captain’s seats can also be had in the second row, which makes seating capacity top out at seven. Regardless of setup, the Tahoe is quite roomy, as should be expected of a full-size SUV. Cargo space behind the third row, however, is surprisingly limited at just over 15 cubic feet. Folding the third row, however, expands that space to nearly 52 cubic feet. If you regularly need to use the third row and carry cargo, well, that’s what the Yukon XL is for. Ergonomics on the base Yukon SLE detracts due to a steering column that only tilts and doesn’t telescope. In addition to getting leather instead of cloth, another reason to opt for at least the mid-grade SLT trim is to get a telescoping steering wheel and power-adjustable pedals.

Exterior

The Yukon comes in two sizes: big and bigger. The standard model has an overall length of 203.9 inches -- nearly 17 feet. The Yukon XL comes in at 224.4 inches -- nearly 19 feet. Like its Tahoe/Suburban/Escalade relatives, the GMC Yukon is slab-sided, big and bold. GMC’s variant of this boxy SUV has its own touches, and further varies its own theme between the standard and Denali models. The Yukon Denali is even more upscale, featuring a prominent honeycomb grille and lots of glitzy chrome. With GMC’s big SUV come big wheels, ranging in size from the standard 18 inches up to optional 22s.

Notable Standard Equipment

The 2019 GMC Yukon is available in three trims: SLE, SLT and the range-topping Denali. The base SLE offers more standard features than the base Chevy Tahoe LS, but it’s also more expensive. Standard features include 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, keyless entry, front and rear parking sensors, rearview camera, tri-zone climate control, 9-speaker Bose audio system, and 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. If you can swing roughly $5,000 more, we recommend stepping up to the mid-trim SLT trim. It includes conveniences like leather upholstery, a steering wheel that telescopes and tilts, power-adjustable pedals, and power tailgate. It also includes the Enhanced Driver Alert Package with safety features like lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. All models also come with GM’s OnStar telecommunications service (subscription required after trial period) with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Notable Optional Equipment

At the top end, the new Yukon Denali ladles on features and amenities including the bigger V8 engine, magnetic-ride-control suspension, hands-free tailgate, navigation, upgraded Bose audio system with active-noise cancellation, head-up display, perforated leather seating with heated and ventilated front seats, and wireless phone-charging cradle. All Yukon models can be had with 4-wheel drive (4WD) in lieu of the standard (rear-) 2-wheel drive (2WD). In addition to the Graphite Edition packages, the SLT trim can also be had with the new Standard Edition Value Package that bundles sunroof, 2nd-row bucket seats and 20-inch wheels. Other options include blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and power-folding rear seats. A rear-seat entertainment system is also available.

Under the Hood

Two V8 engine choices are available for the 2019 Yukon and Yukon XL. Standard is a 5.3-liter V8 making 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Optional is a 6.2-liter V8 that makes a more robust 420 horsepower/460 lb-ft of torque and is linked to a 10-speed automatic. The 6.2-liter V8 was formerly reserved for Denali models, but is now available on mid-grade SLT trims if you opt for the Graphite Performance Edition. 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 aren’t exactly fuel misers. The GMC Yukon is 2WD, with 4WD optional on all trims. The tow rating maxes out at 8,500 pounds, which is slightly lower than the Tahoe’s 8,600-pound rating, and less than the Ford Expedition’s rating of up to 9,300 pounds.

5.3-liter V8
355 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
383 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 mpg (2WD), 15/21 mpg (4WD) , 14/21 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) 14/20 mpg (4WD XL)

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Pricing Notes

The 2019 GMC Yukon has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $50,795 when including the $1,295 destination charge. In reality, most buyers should plan to spend several thousand more. Stepping up to the Yukon SLT, for instance, puts you into the mid-$50,000 range, while a new Yukon Denali starts at nearly $68,000. Adding 4-wheel drive is another $3,000, and adding length in the form of the Yukon XL adds another $2,700 to the bottom line. All-in, you can crest the $80,000 mark, into Cadillac Escalade territory. At its base price, the Yukon is slightly more expensive than its Tahoe sibling, even more so if you consider the Tahoe Custom, a 2-row/5-passenger variant so-far exclusive to the Chevy. The GMC’s base price is also above that of the Toyota Sequoia and Nissan Armada. Before buying your new big, family SUV, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The GMC Yukon’s resale value, like that of its Chevy Tahoe twin, is expected to be among the tops in its segment.

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I'm interested in this car, and I'd like to trade in my current car while I'm at it.
Then again, maybe I should be thinking about a used car.

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