By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 8.9
In the world of full-size family SUVs, the 2017 GMC Yukon stands head and shoulders above the rest. The Yukon, with its longer sibling, the Yukon XL, is more modern in design than the aging Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia, yet its abilities are in full view, reminding all competitors that this slick big rig is still a workhorse at heart. While SLE and SLT trim get by with a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8, the Denali trims are equipped with a 420-horsepower 6.2-liter unit that knows no equal in this class. And while it’s true the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator can tow more weight, neither can match the Yukon’s cutting-edge styling, driver assists or optional technology features.
If you need the big hauling, towing and cargo abilities of a full-size SUV, GMC’s Yukon, Yukon XL and Denali SUVs for 2017 have all the bases covered. You’ll get style, supreme luxury and cutting-edge features, plus with the XL, added space that a Nissan Armada or Toyota Sequoia can’t match.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2017 GMC Yukon SUV gains standard Teen Driver, while the Denali and SLT trims get heated and ventilated front seats. Improvements are made to GM’s IntelliLink and rear-seat entertainment systems, and low-speed automatic braking is added to the Enhanced Driver Alert Package (standard on SLT and Denali).
One might think a vehicle weighing in excess of three tons might ride and drive like a big work truck. With the 2017 GMC Yukon SUV the feeling is eerily...
... reminiscent of the full-size American luxury cars of the past, only with better handling, braking and steering response. The mechanical twin of the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, the 2017 Yukon SLE and SLT trims offer the same 5.3-liter V8 and 355-horsepower rating. Move to the Denali, however, and you’ll get a 6.2-liter V8 unique to the GMC family, with 420 horsepower on tap. 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 ride over any surface. Inside, the Yukon’s luxurious interior makes it easy to relax on long trips, especially if you’re not doing the driving.
Beyond soft-touch points and copious leather trim, the 2017 GMC Yukon’s interior has an aesthetic that is superior to SUVs from Toyota, Ford or Dodge. Just about every creature comfort has been thoughtfully added, making the Yukon’s interior one of the nicest in this class.
Big SUVs full of people and gear require big power, which is why the Yukon’s 6.2-liter V8 pumps out a robust 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. You’ll pay a penalty at the pump, but in truth the fuel-economy difference from the 5.3-liter V8 is miniscule.
Stepping inside the 2017 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 invitingly 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.
For years GMC SUVs have been styled as if they were passenger-carrying versions of the brand’s Sierra pickups. No more. Thankfully, the Yukon gets its own face, and a bold one it is. The non-Denali and Denali models share the same sheetmetal, but Denali versions have an upscale chrome mesh grille. For all 2017 GMC Yukons, it’s an in-your-face look that will not be mistaken in the corporate officers’ parking lot, and a good dose of chrome adds the scent of money.
The base 2017 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 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.
GMC’s 2017 Yukon SUV is one of the few vehicles still available with a front bench seat, giving nine seating positions. 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 models are available with the Open Road Package, which includes navigation, rear-seat entertainment, a power sunroof and additional SiriusXM service; the sunroof by itself is $995. The Denali also offers a wide selection of wheels, up to 22 inches.
As standard equipment 2017 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL models have a 5.3-liter V8 of 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. Both engines feature the efficiency benefits of direct gasoline injection and Active Cylinder Management, which seamlessly shuts off half the cylinders during steady cruising. Even with these efficiency-enhancing technologies, all Yukons are big vehicles and, therefore, are decidedly not gas-savers. Still, the engines are strong, capable and well-proven, and will get the jobs done. All Yukons and Denalis can be 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive (2WD, 4WD), the latter with an off-road-appropriate 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: 15/22 mpg (2WD), 15/20 mpg (4WD), 14/20 mpg (4WD XL)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The base SLE 2017 Yukon starts with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $49,750, the comprehensively equipped SLT is over $58,500 and the Denali just over $67,000. For XL models the SLE starts just closer to $52,500, the SLT is slightly over $60,000 and the Denali approaches the $70,000 range. Four-wheel drive (4WD) is $3,000. In all cases, options can push prices way up there. These prices are above those for competitors from Ford, Nissan and Toyota but, the truth is, those alternatives are only marginal competition for the Yukon. 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 2017 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 2017 Yukon is closing the gap.