2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid Review

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Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
February 9, 2009

If you aren't price-sensitive, the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid really is a no-compromise SUV.

TheCarConnection.com perused the range of reviews for the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid to write this conclusive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove the GMC Yukon Hybrid and added opinions and observations where they might help you make a better decision.

Buyers of the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid want to have their cake and eat it too. They're looking for a large, roomy and capable SUV but also demand fuel economy that won’t break the budget or put them in bad standing with the neighbors. GMC’s Yukon Hybrid delivers on this count, with an EPA-estimated 21 mpg city, 22 mpg highway—a full 50 percent better in the city than the standard Yukon with a 5.3-liter V-8—while maintaining a respectable tow rating of 6,000 pounds.

The Yukon Hybrid was launched in 2008 and rolls quietly into 2009 virtually unchanged.  The Hybrid's advanced powertrain combines a specially outfitted 332-horsepower, 6.0-liter V-8 with an Electrically Variable Transmission that GMC developed with BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Chrysler.

Driving the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid requires no special skills; you interact with the vehicle as you would a normal Yukon. The experience, however, is a bit different. In some cases, the gasoline engine may not start, as this GMC is capable of running up to 32 mph on only electric power.  When the engine does kick in, it does so seamlessly and even features GM’s Active Fuel Management that allows the V-8 to run on four cylinders to save fuel.

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The result of all this technology is a large, luxurious SUV that drives beautifully. There is an abundance of power, and the extra torque from the twin electric motors make this full-size SUV feel lively and agile. Cruising is quiet, especially when the SUV is running on battery power. At first it's a bit eerie, but you get used to it.

The 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid looks quite similar to other GM full-size SUVs from a distance, but up close it incorporates a number of small changes. The exterior has been aerodynamically refined with special features that help the Yukon Hybrid slip through the air more easily. The interior of Yukon Hybrid is equipped very lavishly and generously—much like the premium Yukon Denali and just a notch short of the Cadillac Escalade. Lightweight leather-trimmed front seats are unique, as is the instrument panel.

Hybrid technology improves the efficiency, but it can’t magically eliminate all the limitations of a SUV. Similar to the standard GMC Yukon, the 2009 suffers from a cramped third-row seat and limited cargo room aft of the back row.

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2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid

Styling

Only a few subtle cues will tell those in the know—or those close enough—that the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid isn't a typical guzzler.



The GMC Yukon Hybrid doesn’t fit into the traditional “hybrid” mold—like a Toyota Prius, for instance—in that it still looks like a Yukon but with a lot of Hybrid badges.

For the GMC Yukon Hybrid 2009, a few aerodynamic changes, along with “hybrid” badges and graphics, differentiate it from the nonhybrid version. As a result, it still looks very much like a Yukon. Cars.com reports that "few onlookers will mistake the Yukon Hybrid for anything but a Yukon." Cars.com also points out that the GMC Yukon Hybrid 2009 sports "lower side cladding and unique 18-inch wheels" that all help to reduce drag and work with the hybrid powerplant to improve fuel economy. Kelley Blue Book lists these new changes as "a different front end where a lower air dam that reduces drag" comes in to replace "the traditional fog lamps and tow hook openings," and "wide openings in the grille help cool the advanced hybrid power electronics." They also note that the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrids "delete the standard roof rack side rails and replace the rear liftgate with a one-piece aluminum door featuring a fixed glass window," while "an extended rear spoiler improves aerodynamics, as do the sharp-edged D-pillars." Forbes Autos, meanwhile, says the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid shares the regular Yukon's "unashamedly big and broad-shouldered" styling, though it does get a new, "brash front-end treatment."

The interior of the 2009 Yukon Hybrid is universally appreciated by TheCarConnection.com and other reviewers alike. On the revised center stack, Cars.com finds that the GMC Yukon Hybrid's "center display screen incorporates an animation showing the flow of power through the hybrid drivetrain," and they note "the gauges include a gas mileage meter." Kelley Blue Book adds that "a revised instrument cluster plays home to a unique tachometer designed to inform the driver when the Auto Stop feature engages," which is where "the gasoline engine shuts down and the Hybrid is propelled solely by the electric motors built into its transmission." Edmunds cites the "handsome cabin" on the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid as one of the most appealing aspects of the vehicle, while Forbes Autos says that the "GMC Yukon Hybrid's handsome interior includes a two-tone instrument panel with LED-backlit instrumentation" and "chrome trim, and a high center stack for the climate control and audio systems."

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2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid

Performance

The hybrid drivetrain in the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid enhances the driving experience and brings a big boost to fuel economy.

The 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid features one of the most advanced hybrid drivetrains available on the market. Codeveloped with Chrysler and BMW, it is capable of running on electric power only or with a combination of electric and gasoline power.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that drivers love the new hybrid system in the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid, which USA Today says "works well in city and highway use, instead of favoring one, as rival systems do." It features "a 6.0-liter V8 engine coupled to a pair of 60-kilowatt electric motors" that Edmunds states "produce 322 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque." Kelley Blue Book finds that "the shift between electric power and the gasoline engine is seamless," and the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid's Active Fuel Management system switches "from eight cylinders to four" when cruising. Despite its additional weight and complex drivetrain, the GMC Yukon Hybrid 2009 is a very capable work machine, and Edmunds notes "maximum towing capacity for a properly equipped 4WD model is 6,000 pounds."
In terms of acceleration, Edmunds reviewers advise that "although the Hybrid is the most powerful Yukon available, it's also the heaviest, so don't expect particularly brisk acceleration."

The 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid is available with either rear- or all-wheel drive, the latter being a technological powerhouse. Kelley Blue Book says GM calls the system an "Electrically Variable Transmission," and Edmunds declares that the system is "essentially like having two transmissions inside one—continuously variable drive for light load conditions and fixed-ratio for high load conditions." While most reviewers appreciate the smooth operation, USA Today proclaims "when going to wide-open throttle, as when merging on a fast-moving interstate, the GMC tester held the engine at high revs—5000 to 5500 rpm—an unusually long time before shifting into another gear." They elaborate on this phenomenon by reasoning that "it could be because the transmission was switching from conventional four-speed automatic mode" to the "variable-ratio that's part of the hybrid setup."

The hybrid technology delivers, but so do the ride and handling. Reviewers are unanimously impressed by what Forbes Autos calls "a responsive suspension setup," which "delivers a fairly smooth ride with handling that's more composed than you might expect from a vehicle of this size and weight." Even the braking on this big sport ute wins over reviewers, as Edmunds finds that "the regenerative braking system produces a firm braking feel and, according to GM, actually stops the big SUV better than the regular Yukon's conventional brakes do." Car and Driver lists the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid's "refined ride" as one of its greatest attributes. Joining the praise party is USA Today, which remarks that the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid boasts the "same nimble feel and tight turning circle that allow all GM biggies to drive as if they're midsize."

Fuel economy on the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid is the primary reason consumers will purchase this vehicle, and it doesn’t disappoint. Car and Driver says that the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid boasts "mpg gains of up to 25 percent" over traditional Yukon models. The official EPA estimates for the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid are 21 mpg city and 22 mpg highway for 2WD models, while the 4WD offers 20 mpg both in the city and on the highway.

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2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid is a high-quality SUV that offers loads of usable cargo space.

The 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid doesn’t compromise on quality or usable space in this SUV package.

The interior of the GMC Yukon Hybrid 2009 can be configured to seat seven or eight passengers. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate that passenger room in both the front and middle rows is exceptional, and Kelley Blue Book praises the new "lighter, thinner seats" on the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid, which "actually add 1.5-inches of second-row passenger knee room." However, Car and Driver points out that the GMC Yukon Hybrid 2009 has "snug third row seating" that's best reserved for children.

The rearmost row of seats is a source of complaints, as it doesn’t fold flat into the floor and is difficult to remove. Forbes Autos says the third row "can't be folded flat into the floor like seats offered by the competition" and "must be removed manually, which can be quite a chore." The task is magnified by the fact that "the two seats weigh slightly less than a Geo," according to Edmunds reviewers. Despite the complaints, no other hybrid can come close to the cargo capacity of the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid. Edmunds claims that the "maximum cargo capacity is a whopping 109 cubic feet with the folding second row down—much more than any other hybrid offers."

In terms of interior quality, it is obvious that GM ups the ante, and the GMC Yukon Hybrid 2009 is an example of its renewed focus on quality and design. Other reviewers agree and rave about the quality of the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid. Edmunds declares that the "newest Yukon boasts attractive, high-quality materials and tight panel gaps." Forbes Autos reviewers concur, adding the "GMC Yukon Hybrid's handsome interior includes a two-tone instrument panel" and "chrome trim" that contribute to the upscale materials feel.

Quality and design are important, but so is ride experience. GM focuses a lot of attention on wind and road noise to excellent results. Edmunds says that the cabin is "eerie quiet when accelerating and braking," thanks to the fact that the gas engine shuts off and the electric takes over. Forbes Autos also notes that the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid features "a fully boxed frame for stout structural rigidity with reduced noise."

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2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid

Safety

The 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid has standard safety features to help drivers avoid accidents, as well as protect them in the event of one.

The 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid has been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the government agency responsible for such tests, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com are particularly impressed with the results. NHTSA awarded the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid a perfect five stars for occupant protection in every impact category, including both driver and passenger side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not yet had a chance to rate the Yukon or the Yukon Hybrid.

Surviving a crash is important, but equal attention is spent on avoiding a crash altogether. As a result, the 2009 Yukon Hybrid has a host of safety features. Forbes Autos says that the GMC Yukon Hybrid 2009 features "GM's StabiliTrak stability control system" and notes the side-curtain airbags "remain inflated for several seconds to protect passengers in the event of a rollover."  Edmunds reviewers add that the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid's "standard safety equipment includes full-length side curtain airbags, antilock disc brakes, traction control, OnStar and a rearview camera."

Considering the size of the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid, visibility from behind the wheel is excellent. While visibility directly to the rear is impeded by the size of the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid, Kelley Blue Book says that a "rearview camera system" helps make backing up and parallel parking maneuvers more manageable. Reviewers at AutoWeek attribute this to "a seating position above the fray."

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2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid

Features

The 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid’s price tag is high, but it brings a long list of standard features.

The 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid comes in only one trim, and it is just about fully loaded. While there are a few options to personalize the vehicle, the standard equipment will please most.

When it comes to the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid, Edmunds says that "other than its sophisticated running gear, the Yukon Hybrid is essentially a fully loaded Yukon SLT," and it comes standard with "niceties like leather, a rearview camera and navigation system." USA Today reviewers divulge that in order "to help hide, and pay for, the cost of the hybrid system, it's a premium model." Kelley Blue Book simply calls that one trim "expensive," but at least you get quite a few standard features for the high sticker price. Other standard equipment on the GMC Yukon Hybrid 2009, according to Kelley Blue Book, includes "powerfolding heated side mirrors, electric power steering, side-mounted assist steps, rear park assist," and an impressive "Bose nine-speaker audio system."

Because it is a highly loaded vehicle, there are very few options. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, such as the one from USA Today, say that "only rear-seat video and a sunroof are options" for the interior. The only other pair of available options for the GMC Yukon Hybrid 2009 are an "engine block heater" for those living in cold climates and a "locking rear axle," according to Kelley Blue Book.

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