The GMC Yukon XL is a great choice for anyone towing cars, boats, horses, and travel trailers who needs enclosed space for passenger or cargo.
Maximum towing capacity ranges from 7800-8500 pounds for a Yukon XL 1500 model, and about 9500 pounds on a Yukon XL 2500. (Subtract 1500-2500 pounds if the Yukon is fully loaded with people and cargo.) With its long wheelbase and full-size truck construction, the Yukon XL is a stable platform for towing while offering the interior cargo advantages of a full-size SUV.
The Yukon line was completely redesigned for 2007. For 2011, Yukon is not significantly changed, though it’s been updated with the latest OnStar version 9.0.
Yukon XL is GMC’s version of the Chevrolet Suburban. As the XL name suggests, the Yukon XL is extra-long, 20 inches longer than the standard-length Yukon. Like the Suburban, the Yukon XL seats seven to nine people, depending on configuration. While many vehicles will seat seven, few have so much room left over for cargo.
Yukon XL is offered in 1500 and 2500 versions.
Yukon XL is also available as a luxurious Denali model that compares well to Cadillac’s Escalade ESV. Denali comes equipped with automatic rear load-leveling.
Inside is a comfortable cabin. We found the optional leather seats comfortable. The driver sits way up high for a commanding view of the road, and the pedals power-adjust to fit short and tall drivers. The instruments and gauges are among best in class, elegantly clean yet very functional. Interior small items storage is intelligently designed and all over, including a huge center console.
Second-row passengers will find a lot of leg room in the Yukon XL. Heated bucket seats with a center console between them are available for the second row, turning them into first-class accommodations; and there is a power folding option, making it easier for third-row passengers to climb by. There’s even decent legroom and headroom in the third row.
Yukon offers a choice of V8 engines, all with flex-fuel capability, variable cam timing and active fuel management to shut off cylinders when not needed. GM’s 5.3-liter Vortec V8 is the standard choice and it’s a good one, making 320 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. We enjoyed its smooth power. The 2WD 5.3-liter gets an EPA-estimated 14/20 miles per gallon City/Highway while the 4WD 5.3-liter rates 14/19 mpg. Flex-fuel versions of the 5.3-liter V8 are available that can run on E85 ethanol, though use of less-efficient ethanol drops fuel economy by more than 25 percent.
Yukon XL Denali boasts a 403-hp 6.2-liter V8. Denali is offered with two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, the latter an excellent aid for inclement weather but not designed for serious off-road use. Denali comes standard with the AutoRide active electronic suspension, which is optional on the regular Yukon XL. Denali models get an EPA-rated 12/19 mpg. Note that EPA ratings vary considerably, see www.fueleconomy.gov for comparison shopping.
Yukon XL 2500 models come with a 6.0-liter iron-block V8 rated at 352 hp, 382 lb-ft of torque, EPA 12/17 mpg. Yukon XL 2500 and is designed for heavy use, as are all of its mechanical components.
Yukon XL and Denali models use a 6-speed automatic transmission. They all have a Tow/Haul mode that reduces upshifting and downshifting, and also shifts quicker, so the transmission doesn’t work so hard when pulling a big load. Transmission oil temperature is part of the instrumentation on most models.
Convenience features include a power rear liftgate, a 14-speaker Bose sound system, a navigation system, and a DVD rear-seat entertainment system. Rearview cameras are standard with navigation and available for others with display in inside mirror.
Yukon XL competes with Ford Expedition EL, Suburban, and, if cargo space isn’t as critical, Toyota Sequoia and Infiniti QX56. Yukon XL Denali alternatives include the Lincoln Navigator L, Cadillac Escalade ESV, and Mercedes-Benz GL450.