New for 2015
The GMC Yukon has been redesigned for 2015, with a bolder exterior, more refined interior, and more efficient V-8 engines.
The GMC Yukon/Yukon XL are mechanical twins to the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, and offer seating for as many as nine passengers, while laying claim to an 8,500-pound towing capacity. The Denali model brings luxury on par with the Lincoln Navigator. In GMC’s SUV lineup, the Yukon fits above the three-row Acadia.
The 2015 GMC Yukon is powered by a pair of V-8 engines; non-Denali models get a 5.3-liter V-8 that makes 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, which is paired with a six-speed automatic, which drives the rear wheels or all four. The EPA rates the 5.3-liter V-8 for 15-16/22-23 mpg (city/highway). Under the hood of Yukon Denali models is a 6.2-liter V-8 that produces 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque and is paired to an eight-speed automatic. EPA estimates place the Denali trims at 14-15/20-22 mpg, with the XL 4WD models on the lower end of that range. Maximum towing capacity is 8,500 pounds with the 5.3-liter V-8 powered Yukon models, and 8,400 pounds with the 6.2-liter V-8 powered Denali models.
The GMC Yukon is a versatile three-row SUV that can haul both people and cargo without breaking a sweat, so it includes features such as a hidden lit storage area behind the 8-inch infotainment screen, a center console big enough for hanging folders (or a laptop), power-folding second- and third-row seating, an available front bench seat (for 9-passengers), heating/cooling for the front row and heating for the second row. The Yukon has an adjustable power rear liftgate that can be programmed to open to a pre-set height. Inside technology makes an appearance in features such as the Bose premium audio system, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth with streaming audio capability, forward collision alert, adaptive cruise control, blind zone alert with rear cross traffic alert, lane change alert, and front/rear park assist (distance is indicated by audio tones).
The 2015 GMC Yukon received a four-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars), but has not been crash tested by the IIHS yet.
What We Think
The redesigned 2015 GMC Yukon has benefited from fierce competition in the full-size truck-based SUV segment, improving with more efficient engines and an available eight-speed automatic. There are still a number of people who value towing capacity as much as passenger comfort, making the new breed of three-row crossovers inadequate. Enter the Yukon and the Denali variants, which are now trimmed more like luxury vehicles, and their prices reflect as much. Denali models start in the mid-$65,000 range and move on up from there. In a Driven review of a 2015 GMC Yukon we noted, “GMC says the Denali versions of these trucks — both the Yukon and the Yukon XL — are more popular than the base SLE and mid-level SLT combined, accounting for 60 percent of total Yukon sales.”
The Yukon Denali can function as a near-luxury SUV when the mechanically related Cadillac Escalade is too ostentatious or expensive.
Buyers looking to frequently use the third row ought to consider a Yukon XL (available in Denali trim as well), because otherwise the rearmost seats are barely usable by small children. In a review, we said, “Blame the solid rear axle, which prevented engineers from carving out any legroom.” There isn’t a fuel economy penalty for XL models, and around $3,000 separates the two models. When held up to the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, with the twin-turbo V-6 in those SUVs, the Yukon exceeds it in fuel economy by one-mpg, but has less passenger room (third row especially) and cannot tow as much (9,000 pounds in the Ford and Lincoln). Worth noting, however, is the Ford/Lincoln twin-turbo V-6 tendency to deliver either Eco or Boost, but not usually both simultaneously.
- Bold styling
- Refined interior
- V-8 engines are more efficient than before
You Won’t Like
- Third row cramped in regular-wheelbase Yukon
- Can get pricey
- Unless you really need to tow, the fuel economy is poor
- Lincoln Navigator
- Ford Expedition
- Cadillac Escalade
- Toyota Sequoia
- Nissan Armada