2003 GMC Yukon XL with Quadrasteer

The first SUV with four-wheel-steering is a beast, but it sure can dance.

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If you care about fuel economy, this most definitely is not the vehicle for you. There is just no way around the fact that GMC's 2500-series Yukon XL, the first of the big-boy SUVs to get four-wheel steering, weighs a ton (three, actually) with all that extra steering hardware along for the ride. Having spent a weekend with it, I can attest to its truly traumatic fuel economy. Make that "lack thereof." Bonus: A new, 37.5-gallon fuel tank.

Our 3/4-ton, four-wheel-drive Yukon XL with Quadrasteer was a behemoth, a big lug, a water buffalo, a veritable tugboat. And to accommodate the extra hardware, it's five inches wider in the rear than a two-wheel-steered Yukon XL. But as Tim Jennings said to me, his wife, "You can bitch about the weight of adding four-wheel steering, you can bitch about its fuel economy, you can bitch about its price, but once you have it, you sure do like it and you're glad you have it. This Yukon XL may be a boat, but it's an awfully nimble boat."

He is so right. We are Chevy Suburban owners, and, as such, think twice before just whipping Big Bertha into any old straight-on spot in a parking garage. We search carefully for the right driveway in which to execute a ponderous, three-point, about-face. We studiously avoid the tight jam.

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Four-wheel steering makes everyone a hero driver. Grown men rush from stores to watch you spin on a dime and reverse out of your parking spot and into one two slots away in one smooth move. Quadrasteer is nothing short of a miracle.

Up to this point, the miracle of Quadrasteer been limited to GM pickups, but the wait is over. It took just long enough coming to the SUV market for the Yukon XL to benefit from a few other welcome refinements, including a much-improved seat (though it still won't fully recline). Our utterly loaded test vehicle came equipped with the $1295 rear-seat DVD entertainment system, the $1170 AutoRide adaptive suspension, and the $4684 Luxury Equipment Group, which meant the seats also were swathed in extra-soft leather. OnStar and steering wheel-mounted audio controls are also part of that pricey option, as are power adjustable pedals and a nine-speaker Bose sound system.

We were surprised to see that Quadrasteer wasn't part of that package.

When Quadrasteer was first launched, it came bundled with a bunch of extra equipment to help justify its hefty price. In the Yukon XL (I'll consider buying one when its unfortunate nomenclature changes), you'll see Quadrasteer listed on the options page by its lonesome, out flapping in the breeze for a cool $4495. This on top of the $41,930 base MSRP, bringing our total to a whopping $56,143. May I say, "Yikes!"

That's a price that will get your wallet stuck in your pocket. It's steep, but there's nothing out there to compare. You'll bitch, you'll bitch, you'll bitch. But you sure will like it.

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