The GMC Yukon XL is a great choice for towing cars, boats, horses, and travel trailers when enclosed space is needed for passengers or cargo. Yukon XL is offered in 1500 and 2500 versions.
Maximum towing capacity ranges from 7800-8100 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.
Yukon XL is GMC’s version of the Chevrolet Suburban. As the XL 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 Denali is a luxurious model that compares well to the Cadillac 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 5.3-liter gets an EPA-estimated 15/21 miles per gallon City/Highway, with 2WD or 4WD. 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 14/18 mpg with 2WD and 13/18 with AWD. 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 10/16 and 10/15 mpg, with 2WD and 4WD, respectively. 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 new 10-speaker Bose surround-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.
The 2012 Yukon XL offers a new navigation option, a hard-drive system integrated into an AM/FM/XM/CD Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound stereo, and featuring a USB port, time-shift recording capability, NavTraffic and available SiriusXM Weather Service. And when you order DVD entertainment, third-row passengers now enjoy their own screen. The standard StabiliTrak stability control system now includes electronic trailer sway control and hill start assist. 2012 Yukon XL SLT models get heated front seats as standard equipment, and a heated steering wheel as an option. 2012 Yukon XL Denalis get side blind zone alert, standard. Fog lights and roof rack cross rails are now standard on base 1500 models, but still optional on heavy-duty 2500s. The current-generation GMC Yukon XL dates from 2007, but it has been improved and refined since then.
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.