2015 GMC Yukon / Yukon XL
Even though GMC’s offerings are virtually identical with those with bow ties on the grille, they’re often considered extra-sturdy and durable—probably from all those years of that “Professional Grade” marketing campaign. And thus, the brand typically fetches more money at dealerships. One of the secrets is not to diminish the brand's equity by adding new models that don't fit its strictly defined image, or altering the existent ones beyond recognition. And in the 2015 Yukon and long-wheelbase derivative Yukon XL, GMC has done nothing but fortify that ideal.
Fully redesigned for the first time since 2006, the Yukon remains true to the proven formula of its predecessors. The Yukon XL adds 14 inches in wheelbase and 20 inches in total length compared to its standard-length stablemate—and, historically, a premium—making it a perennial favorite with large (and affluent) families. There's plenty of space for the family's stuff too—the Yukon and Yukon XL feature fold-flat second- and third-row seats, along with an available power-folding feature, for substantial cargo space.
More than ever before, the Yukon and the Yukon XL are vehicles in their own right; the technological link to the Sierra full-size pickup is barely visible anymore. The exterior design is cleaner, more angular and more contemporary that the previous-generation SUVs. There’s even a hint of Range Rover in the headlights and taillights, as well as the surface treatment—something you wouldn’t have said about the Sierra–carbon-copied Yukon of seven years ago. Projector-beam headlights are standard, but the upscale Denali trim gets HID units.
The Denali again improves in the styling department, replacing the standard 18-inch wheels with 20- or optional 22-inch rollers. Standard Yukons feature a handsome grille divided into three sections, but the Denali gets a massive chrome treatment that’s sure to impress at the country club—perhaps less so when filling other motorists’ rearview mirrors.
The dashboard of the Yukon and Yukon XL is no longer shared with the Sierra pickup—as we reported late last year. Instead, it’s now more carlike than ever before, graced with a center-stack-mounted eight-inch screen. Naturally, the Yukon can be fitted with a large number of assistance systems, including lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic braking functions, and a collision-warning system.
GMC will offer two V-8 engines: an entry-level 5.3-liter V-8 and a 6.2-liter V-8, which comes standard with the Denali trim. No details have been made available for the smaller mill, but we suspect it will produce figures close to the Sierra pickup’s, where it produces 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. The upscale 6.2-liter V-8—a far more emotional engine that will make all the right noises—will deliver 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic. Neither hybrid- nor diesel-powered versions will come to market any time soon.