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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
It's not quite as vibrant when passing
Kelley Blue Book
Steering, although precise, is too light for such a large vehicle
Revised suspension provides a compliant ride and more precise handling
Performance is certainly a strong suit on the 2008 GMC Yukon, especially in the form of towing ability.
The 2008 GMC Yukon lineup offers a variety of engine choices, including some exclusively offered on the XL versions of the GMC Yukon 2008. On the regular-length GMC Yukons, Edmunds says "three V8s are employed," which include a "4.8-liter V8 with 295 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque" on "two-wheel-drive Yukon SLEs," while "all other Yukon SLE models pack a 5.3-liter V8 (320 hp and 340 lb-ft)." Edmunds adds that "the GMC Yukon Denali boasts a 6.2-liter V8 (380 hp and 415 lb-ft)."
On the XL trims, Cars.com reports "a 5.3-liter V-8 propels regular-duty Yukon XLs," while there is also "an optional 6.0-liter V-8." The 2008 GMC Yukon XL Denali is available with only one engine option, which Kelley Blue Book says is a "class-leading 380-horsepower 6.2-liter V8." That V-8 scores very well in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, and Edmunds praises the "massive pulling power" it affords the Yukon XL Denali. They add that the "nearly 6,000-pound Yukon Denali is surprisingly quick," noting it "responds like a vehicle that weighs half as much" and can run "zero to 60 in just 7.2 seconds." Thus, "if you lined this massive ute up against a Honda Civic Si, it'd be really close." Edmunds also claims that the Yukon Denali has enough power for "towing up to 7,800 pounds of recreational toys." Yukon SLEs are slightly mightier, and Cars.com states "a Yukon SLE can tow up to 8,200 pounds." Regular-length GMC Yukons also have ample strength, with ConsumerGuide attesting "Yukons are muscular off the line and in highway passing/merging with the 5.3-liter V8."
The various engine options on the 2008 GMC Yukon lineup are paired with one of two transmissions. Cars.com says that regular-length Yukon SLEs boast "a four-speed automatic," while the GMC Yukon Denali sports "a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode." Car and Driver adds that "full-time four-wheel drive is among the options" on the GMC Yukon 2008 lineup. Regarding the available six-speed transmission, ForbesAutos reports "this transmission includes two overdrive gears to help maximize the vehicle's performance." Kelley Blue Book reviewers rave about the GMC Yukon 2008's six-speed automatic, finding that its "responses are less harsh than in four-speed models, with less-noticeable delays" than the transmission found on lesser versions of the GMC Yukon lineup. The four-speeds still earn praise in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, with Consumer Guide claiming "the transmissions provide crisp, timely shifts." Edmunds also mentions that "previously, the Yukon Denali only came in all-wheel-drive (AWD) form, but GMC made a running change this year and added a two-wheel-drive variant" that delivers power through the rear wheels.
Auto experts at TheCarConnection.com are not surprised the performance capabilities of this vehicle come at a price that will be felt every time you fill up the tank. ForbesAutos notes the Yukon XL Denali and its massive V-8 engine are "the least fuel efficient of those offered in the Yukon XL" family. The official EPA estimates for GMC Yukon 2008 fuel economy are 12 mpg city and 17 mpg highway for either the 2WD or 4WD versions of the Denali, even with its six-speed transmission. The 4.8-liter engine fares somewhat better, returning an EPA-estimated 14 mpg city and 19 mpg on the highway, while the 5.3-liter engine gets 14/20 mpg. On the 2008 GMC Yukon XL, the available 6.0-liter engine gets 12 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway, according to the official EPA figures. (The 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid is covered separately.)
Along with impressive towing and acceleration capabilities, the 2008 GMC Yukon lineup boasts impressive handling and a comfortable ride. Kelley Blue Book says that GMC Yukon 2008 "ride quality...is hardly truck-like at all, and it feels secure in curves." Edmunds reports the "Yukon's steering, although precise, is too light for such a large vehicle," but they add that "thanks to the Denali's 'Autoride' automatically adjusting suspension damping, ride quality over L.A.'s pockmarked pavement was impressive, as was the lack of wallowing through the turns on a section of twisty two-lane." ForbesAutos says of the Autoride system that its "electronically controlled shock absorbers make adjustments according to changing road and driving conditions to help maintain a smooth ride." ConsumerGuide also praises the "car-like comfort over bumps," and they note "long-wheelbase XL models are slightly more comfortable regardless of tire choice." The only real performance drawback on the GMC Yukon is in terms of braking, as Edmunds says that the big SUV takes "134 feet" to stop from 60 mph. Cars.com reports that "the heavy-duty 2500 series include a newly standard electronic stability system," however.
The 2008 GMC Yukon offers tremendous power and towing ability, and it drives better than you might expect.