In the General Motors corporate family, GMC serves as an upscale complement to the Chevrolet truck line, offering its own better-dressed versions of the hot-selling Bowtie-branded pickups and SUVs. In terms of full-size sport/utility vehicles, The Yukon is the middle ground between the Chevy Tahoe/Suburban and the Cadillac Escalade range, providing size, power, and generous amenities.
The Yukon and Yukon XL provide transport for families and businesses that have serious demands for comfort, cargo capacity, towing, and even off-roading. Five basic configurations serve diverse needs, starting with the relatively affordable base Yukon. Two setups are offered for the nearly 18-foot XL version, a 1/2-ton light-duty and 3/4-ton heavier-duty best suited for arduous use. Both 116-inch and 130-inch wheelbase Yukons are available in premium Denali trim, with unique exterior and interior treatments to create a more pampering truck experience.
The current-generation Yukon was introduced in the 2000 model year, and in the face of newer competitors, is showing signs of age in its refinement and detail execution. Although a completely new Yukon is due for the 2006 calendar year, the outgoing model range still offers a good combination of capability, features, performance, and versatility in a desirable package.
It may be huge, but you won't need to annex an airplane hangar to house a Yukon. With the vertical reach of the rear-drive Yukon measuring 76.7 inches including a luggage rack, the sport/ute will squeeze into a standard 78-inch-tall garage. Total length of the Yukon XL is 219.3 inches--the shorter-wheelbase Yukon is 20 inches shorter, making it more manageable.
The exterior styling was considered tasteful and restrained when the Yukon debuted in 2000, and it hasn't gotten any more exciting over the years. The sheetmetal rounded the edges on the then-familiar two-box Yukon shape, giving the once hard-lined truck a more suburban appearance. Tasteful in any form, the exterior is quite handsome in Denali guise, which employs a modern headlamp layout and a signature perforated chrome grille to move the appearance upmarket. The Denali's front clip also gets help from a cleaner-looking airdam with integrated round foglamps. From the side, the Denali version can be spotted by its unique body molding and a set of blinged-out 20-inch wheels. The standard Yukon wears less-flashy 17-inch wheels. Other changes for the model year include tweaks for improved aerodynamic efficiency: tow hook covers, sealed front air-deflector hole and lip extension, and smoothed running boards. Two new colors were added for 2005: Sand Beige Metallic and Blue-Green Crystal.
The standard-wheelbase GMC Yukon provides enough interior space for up to nine people, along with all their miscellaneous travel and adventure gear. Actual seating capacity varies based on which of the three trim levels is chosen. The base SLE trim has a 40/20/40-split front bench with cloth upholstery. The mid-level SLT package upgrades to supportive, leather-trimmed bucket seats up front and tri-zone climate control, among other features. The top-of-the-line Denali is loaded with almost everything--the only options are a moonroof, second-row bucket seats (dropping total seats to seven), and an upgraded entertainment system. A flip-down DVD player with A/V inputs and touch-screen navigation are included in the entertainment upgrade.
The vast interior of the Yukon boasts generous cargo space. With the third row removed and the second row folded away, more than 100 cubic feet of cargo volume is revealed in the standard-wheelbase Yukon. The larger XL increases that spec to 130 cubic feet. Even with the third-row installed, the XL supplies greater than 45 cubic feet of room. Unfortunately, all that space is lined with sub-par materials. Along with the switchgear, stereo and climate controls are the General's standard issues from the corporate parts bin. Aside from materials and fit, the operation of the controls is simple. The Denali trim level attempts to help by covering some of the Chevrolet-shared plastic with faux wood trim, but the improvement is marginal and looks tacked on, which it is. Shame is, the interior has all the right elements, with ample storage nooks, appreciated convenience items, and controls that are readily operated while wearing gloves, but the execution feels a generation behind that of the Nissan Armada and even the aging Toyota Sequoia.