When we think of big, irresponsible vehicles we think of the burly SUVs of yesteryear. Contemporary full-size SUVs are hard to find but if there were ever an example it would be the Yukon XL. The Yukon XL comes in two sizes, a half-ton vehicle called the 1500, and a ¾-ton vehicle dubbed the 2500.
Body Styles: full-size SUV
Engines: 5.3-liter V-8, 6.2-liter V-8, 6.0-liter V-8
Transmissions: six-speed automatic with OD and auto-manual
Models: SLE1 1500, SLE2 1500, SLT1, SLT2
The Yukon XL 1500 saw the introduction of a six-speed automatic transmission for the powerful V-8 engines under the hood, along with some other new features:
- An integrated brake controller and heavy-duty trailering options are now available
- Bluetooth connectivity as well as XM Real Time Traffic reporting is available for the first time this model year.
The Yukon XL 1500 is a monster of a vehicle, big and brawny, but at the same time the styling is elegant. The body looks like an extended truck, much like earlier SUVs, except for the four doors. The Yukon XL is fitted with a roof rack, trailer hitch and trailer wiring as a standard feature. The XL excels at towing.
Inside the Yukon XL is superior styling and standard equipment. GMC has taken great pains over the last few years to improve the quality inside the vehicle. All of the materials are spending; long gone are the days of hard plastics and subpar materials.
The XL 1500 can seat between five and nine people depending on the orientation of the seating. Cargo space is massive at 138 cubic feet of space. To get the full cargo area the third seat needs to be removed, one area where the Yukon could use some improvement. The third row seats are heavy and cumbersome.
The 1500 model is a four-door vehicle available in two trim lines broken up into four levels.
The SLE is the base model and is available as the SLE1 and the SLE2. The SLE1 1500 comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, running boards, full power accessories, a keyless entry system, a 40/20/40 split bench seat in the front, a six-way power adjustment system for the driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control system, Bluetooth connectivity, eight-speaker audio system connected to a CD player and satellite radio, and premium cloth seating.
The SLE2 comes equipped with captain’s chairs in the front of the vehicle, as well as power settings for the passenger’s seat, power adjustments for the back seat, and everything that is included in the SLE1.
The SLT range has upgraded equipment and materials. It is available in the SLT1 and SLT2 sub-trims. Inside the SLT1 is leather seating, a tri-zone climate control system with controls in the back of the vehicle, a Bose audio system with a six-cd changer and satellite radio, power-adjusting driver’s pedals for the ultimate driving comfort, a remote vehicle start, and a rear park assist to help you park this behemoth.
The SLT2 receives lumbar supports for the front seat, heated first and second row seating, memory settings for the driver, and other accessories.
Several other options are available including 20 and 22-inch wheels, heated seats for those vehicles without, sunroof, rear park assist for the SLE, a navigation system, power-folding second row seating, DVD entertainment system for the back of the vehicle, rearview camera, and a power lift gate.
Performance & Handling
Four V-8 engines are available across the entire Yukon XL line. The 1500 models come with a 5.3-liter V-8, or a 6.0-liter V-8. That’s no problem. The 5.3-liter, V-8 engine produces 310 horsepower with 335 pound-feet of torque. It is available as the standard six-speed automatic for the two-wheel and four-wheel drive varieties, and with a flex fuel valve option (FFV) on the four-wheel drive vehicles. The FFV model cuts down on fuel use. The 6.0-liter V-8 pumps out 366 horsepower with 376 pound-feet of torque. It is also paired with a six-speed automatic.
On the road you’ll be surprised how well the Yukon accelerates. Something this big shouldn’t move so fast. The handling is nice as well but you do have to take it easy around curves; the weight of the vehicle is too much for maneuverability at speed. Otherwise, the Yukon 1500 is a nice drive.
The Yukon XL 1500 comes with standard anti-lock brakes, stability control, a rollover sensor, side curtain airbags, and an OnStar system.
In government crash tests the Yukon XL received five stars for front and rear passengers in front and side impacts, the best grade possible.
EPA Fuel Economy
2009 GMC Yukon XL 1500: 14/20 mpg city/highway
- The powerful V-8 engine really gets the Yukon moving.
- The handling is nice an easy for such a large vehicle.
- You’ll really enjoy the huge interior, the quality of the materials, and the seating area.
You Won't Like
- The fact that you have to remove the third seat for extra cargo space is pretty annoying.
- The Yukon would be well served with a power-folding seat.
- The handling around curves could use some work.
The Yukon 1500 is one of the best full-size SUVs on the road. If you are looking for a large family vehicle, this may be your best choice.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Toyota Sequoia
- Ford Expedition