If you thought the GMC Yukon couldn’t get any bigger, think again. The Yukon XL is the great behemoth of the GMC range. This four-door SUV screams financial and ecological irresponsibility, but also happens to be one of the best large SUVs on the market.
Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 5.3-liter V-8, 6.0-liter V-8, 6.2-liter V-8
Transmissions: six-speed automatic transmission
Models: SLE, SLT, Denali
The GMC Yukon XL is available in a half-ton (1500) model and a ¾-ton (2500) models. Three basic trim lines are available including the SLE, SLT and Denali. The Denali is only available in the 1500 series.
The Yukon XL received a few new features for the 2009 model year, including:
- new six-speed automatic transmission
- Bluetooth connectivity
- real-time traffic updates from XM
- extra power in the Denali engine
The Yukon XL has the same modified truck design as the normal Yukon, but is extended for more passenger space. This is a full-size SUV, so it is big. The 130 inch wheelbase is massive. The SLE1 has 17-inch alloy wheels and running boards. The Denali receives all the features of the top trim level, but adds a different front grille and 20-inch alloy wheels.
The interior of the Yukon XL is plush depending on the trim line chosen. This is a big improvement over previous years. All the controls are within good reach and have a modern, stylish design. The quality of the materials is great; long gone are the cheap plastics previously used.
The interior can sit anywhere from five to nine passengers, depending on whether you get the optional third-row bench seating. Cargo space is cut drastically when the third row seat is in place, but it can be removed if you need extra storage capacity. The seats are heavy though, so removal is not an easy task.
The SLE model is the base and is available as an SLE1 and SLE2. The SLE1 has power accessories, keyless entry, a 40/20/40 split front bench seat with a six-way power adjustment for the driver’s side, dual-zone climate control, rear seat AC, Bluetooth connectivity, eight speaker audio and a CD player. The SLE2 provides captain’s seating in the front, power passenger seat, rear audio controls, and headphone jacks for those in the back seat.
The SLT is also available as an SLT1 or SLT2. The SLT1 has leather seating, tri-zone climate controls, Bose speakers for the audio system, power adjusting pedals, remote start, and a rear parking assist alert system. The SLT2 adds extra lumbar support for the driver’s seat as well as power adjustments, second-row seats and memory settings for the driver.
The Denali receives all the features of the top SLT2, but adds heated front seats and second row seating, and the Bose audio system.
There are various options for the Yukon XL as well. 20 and 22-inch wheels are available, heated seats, sunroof, navigation, power folding seats, DVD entertainment system for the back of the vehicle, rearview camera and a power lift gate.
Performance & Handling
The Yukon XL is available with several V-8 options. A 5.3-liter V-8 produces 310 horsepower with 335 pound-feet of torque. A 6.0-liter V-8 available on the 1500 models produces 366 horsepower with 376 pound-feet of torque. A variant on the 6.0-liter is available on the 2500 series that produces 352 horsepower with 382 pound-feet or torque. The Denali XL comes with a 6.2-liter V-8 that produces 403 horsepower with 417 pound-feet of torque.
All versions are available in two or four-wheel drive.
The vehicle is quick but the insane curb weight really holds it down. Turning sharp corners can be a bit harrowing. Big power and weight also means terrible fuel economy.
All models are available with a roll over sensor, anti-lock disc brakes, side curtain airbags, and OnStar services. The Denali also receives a blind-spot alert system.
The Yukon XL received the five-star rating for front and side impacts.
EPA Fuel Economy
5.3-liter, V-8 engine: 14/20 mpg city/highway
Denali: 12/19 mpg city/highway
- The wide variety of options should appeal to most drivers.
- The sheer size is great for those with large families, or for those constantly needing to pick up and drop off passengers.
- The interior is huge and riding comfortable.
- The interior materials quality and features is top of the line and outclass many models on the market.
You Won't Like
- The third row seat doesn’t fold down and is a real pain to remove.
- The terrible fuel economy is surely to be frowned upon.
- The stigma of driving such a vehicle, especially in todays economy and green mindfulness might be enough to turn off even the most uncaring driver.
The Yukon XL is one of the best large SUV models on the market. The spaciousness of the vehicle and the high quality of the materials makes the Yukon XL very attractive. The bad fuel economy and handling is a real downer though, and is a problem met head on by the competition.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Ford Expedition
- Expedition EL
- Toyota Sequoia