- More premium look than the Tahoe
- Powerful yet efficient V-8s
- Serious truck capabilities
- Lots of useful options
- Tough access to tight third-row seats
- Third row won’t fold flat
- Ride height too high for most
- XL is too big to park in some standard spots
The 2009 GMC Yukon really stands out among truck-based SUVs because of its great towing and hauling capabilities.
The 2009 GMC Yukon was last redesigned for 2007 and continues into 2009 with just a few changes. The Yukon shares a platform with the Chevy Tahoe and, thus, has much in common with that vehicle.
The top-of-the-line Denali models offer some exclusive powertrain and luxury features that set them in a different class altogether, so they’re covered by a separate review, as is the 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid, which achieves a stunning 21 mpg city, 22 highway without a sacrifice in performance.
The standard 2009 GMC Yukon rides on a 116-inch wheelbase, with an overall length of 202 inches. Extended-wheelbase Yukon XL models give you extra length and a wheelbase that all goes to the cabin—with more space for people and gear. Exterior dimensions are similar to the regular models, but are about 14 inches longer in wheelbase and 20 inches longer in overall length—so if you worry about parking, you probably want to keep to the standard-length version.
Regular 2009 GMC Yukon models offer standard 4.8-liter (295 horsepower), 5.3-liter (310 or 320 hp), or 6.0-liter (352 hp) V-8s. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard across the line, and buyers have a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive at any of the trim levels. Both of the smaller V-8s have plenty of torque to move the Yukon with authority, even with a full load, and fuel economy is quite respectable for such a huge vehicle, with ratings of 14 mpg city, 20 highway from the EPA. The 6.0-liter is the exclusive domain of the XL model and the pick for the toughest towing demands, but mileage will suffer.
Several seating configurations are offered on the 2009 GMC Yukon; in front, the seats are very generously sized and supportive, with a good view of the road ahead. The first two rows can be equipped with bench seats or buckets (called captain’s chairs here); a third-row bench seat is standard on Yukon XL models and available on the Yukon. With the third row removed and the second row folded, the Yukon XL has a huge 137.2 cubic feet of cargo space, and there’s still respectable room for cargo with people in all three rows. Access to the third row is a bit harder in the standard-length version, and there’s very little space behind the last row.
Both 2009 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL are available in SLE (cloth trim) and SLT trim (leather appointments), in either rear- or four-wheel-drive configurations. Within each trim are other major packages that pile on luxury features, such as tri-zone automatic climate control, a Bose premium sound system, heated first- and second-row seats, a remote start system, rear parking assist, and power-adjustable pedals. Options really drive up the price and include a navigation system, sunroof, DVD entertainment system, power liftgate, and several wheel upgrades and chrome dress-up packages.
The GMC Yukon achieves top five-star ratings from the federal government in all of its front and side-impact crash tests. Equipment highlights for this big, secure vehicle include standard traction and stability control, as well as curtain airbags.