- Revamped powertrains
- Fold-flat seats
- Denali's Magnetic Ride Control
- Cabin's suave new finish
- New look is hardcore straight-edge
- Hybrid edition is gone
- Can get very pricey at the upper end of the range
The 2016 GMC Yukon has the power and capability to haul up to nine passengers, their stuff, and the family boat.
With its modern styling and features, relatively efficient powertrains, and towing and hauling capability, the 2016 GMC Yukon is a very compelling offering for those who need to do more than just carry around the family.
It is one of the few remaining full-sized, truck-based SUVs on the market.
The Yukon doesn't share body panels with the Sierra pickup, but it does use the same triple-sealed door strategy, ladder-type frame, and V-8 power. The Yukon family of SUVs includes the standard length Yukon, the long-wheelbase Yukon XL, and the luxurious Yukon Denali. These vehicles are more closely related to the 2016 Chevy Tahoe and 2016 Suburban, as they share the same structure.
Available in two body styles as before, the Yukon rides on two wheelbases: the standard version's wheelbase is 116 inches, while the Yukon XL's is 130 inches. The styling uses the traditional SUV cues of a large, boxy shape, but adds a modern touch of sharper lines that create a well tailored look. Most models have projector-beam headlamps; Denali models have a distinctive grille and high-intensity discharge headlamps.
The cabin is covered in soft-touch materials, and the Denali trim provides a downright luxurious experience. For those who want more, features such as ambient lighting, Blu-ray rear seat entertainment, a Bose Centerpoint surround sound audio system, and retractable side steps are available.
Powertrains, which are shared with the full-size Sierra pickup as well as the other GM SUVs, include a choice of two V-8s. The standard engine is the same 5.3-liter V-8 found in the Sierra; in the Yukon, it's rated at 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. The upgrade engine is GM's 6.2-liter V-8, which makes 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque in the Yukon. Both powerplants are teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission, and buyers can choose between rear- and four-wheel drive. In our time behind the wheel, the engines have been impressive, delivering strong acceleration and relatively good gas mileage thanks to a pair of engine technologies, namely direct injection and cylinder-deactivation technology. These features yield EPA fuel economy ratings as high as 16 mpg city, 23 highway, 18 combined.
For best performance, safety, and rigidity, the Yukon's frame is composed primarily of high-strength steel. The Yukon still uses a rear live-axle, leaf-spring design, but an available Magnetic Ride Control adjustable suspension helps filter out the bumps that the solid axle sends from side to side. A locking rear differential is standard. The Yukon also has electric power steering, like the Sierra. Maximum towing capacity is 8,500 pounds.
The Yukon's interior shares its sleek look with the Sierra, but it also boasts a flat-folding arrangement for the second- and third-row seats, with optional power assistance. Interior storage includes a center console large enough to store a notebook computer. Legroom is plentiful in the second row, and in the third-row of the XL model. However, the standard wheelbase Yukon lacks third-row legroom, and third-row headroom is tight in all models. An available power-folding system for the second and third rows makes cargo-area access much easier; the seats can be laid down (or, in the case of the third row, raised back into seating position) by the press of a few buttons in the rear hatch area.
Noise damping has been a special focus. In addition to the inset, triple-sealed doors, the windshield and front glass are laminated for less sound intrusion and active noise cancellation is available. Ride quality is very good, and cabin quietness is remarkable.
The Yukon merits some of GM's latest safety technology. Along with the usual airbags and stability control, the Yukon gets a front-center airbag when it's equipped with front bucket seats. Adaptive cruise control is an option, as are a lane-departure warning system with seat-mounted haptic alerts, blind-spot monitors, forward collision alerts, and front parking sensors.
New for 2016 is the addition of Apple Car Play to the IntelliLink infotainment system. Among the returning features on the Yukon utes are Bose audio, keyless ignition, an 8.0-inch touchscreen interface, a head-up display, a power tailgate, a cargo-management system, and up to five USB ports located on the center console. A Blu-ray DVD entertainment system is also an option, as are wheels sized up to 22 inches.
The most efficient version of the Yukon is the base 5.3-liter V-8 engine in a short-wheelbase rear-drive model; it is rated at 16 mpg city, 23 highway, 18 combined. At the other end of the spectrum, the four-wheel-drive Yukon Denali XL with the 6.2-liter V-8 engine rates 14/20/16 mpg combined. The rest of the variations variations fit between these two bookends.