Nearly all reviewers, along with the editors of TheCarConnection.com, note that the 2009 GMC Yukon gets strong acceleration and ample power from its V-8 engines. Towing ability is the vehicle's shining feature.
The 2009 GMC Yukon lineup offers a variety of engine choices. On the regular-length GMC Yukons, Edmunds says "three V-8s are employed," which include a "4.8-liter V8 with 295 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque" on "two-wheel-drive Yukon SLEs." The 2009 GMC Yukon SLE offers another option: "all other Yukon SLE models pack a 5.3-liter V-8 (320 hp and 340 lb-ft)." On the XL trims, Cars.com reports "a 5.3-liter V-8 propels regular-duty Yukon XLs," and there is "an optional 6.0-liter V-8."
Regular-length GMC Yukons have ample strength, with ConsumerGuide attesting, "Yukons are muscular off the line and in highway passing/merging with the 5.3-liter V8." Yukon SLEs are slightly mightier, and Cars.com states that "a Yukon SLE can tow up to 8,200 pounds."
For 2009, a six-speed automatic transmission is newly standard across the 2009 GMC Yukon lineup. According to Cars.com, this used to be standard only in the higher-end Denali version, which TheCarConnection.com covers in a separate review. Kelley Blue Book reviewers rave about the GMC Yukon 2009's six-speed automatic, finding that its "responses are less harsh than in [previous] models, with less-noticeable delays." ForbesAutos reports that "this [six-speed] transmission includes two overdrive gears to help maximize the vehicle's performance." ConsumerGuide contends that GMC's "transmissions provide crisp, timely shifts."
The plus-sized 2009 GMC Yukon is no winner when it comes to fuel efficiency, but with one of the smaller V-8s, it’s probably not as bad as you might think. The smallest 4.8-liter engine returns an EPA-estimated 14 mpg city and 19 mpg on the highway, while the 5.3-liter engine gets 14/20 mpg. On the 2009 GMC Yukon XL, the available 6.0-liter engine is much thirstier; it gets 12 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway, according to the official EPA figures. (The 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid gets considerably better mileage but is covered separately at TheCarConnection.com.)
The 2009 GMC Yukon lineup boasts impressive handling for a vehicle of this size and pedigree, although it’s not universally praised. Edmunds reports the "Yukon's steering, although precise, is too light for such a large vehicle."
Cars.com points out that "the heavy-duty 2500 series include a newly standard electronic stability system," a must in any large rollover-prone SUV. The only real performance drawback on the 2009 GMC Yukon is in terms of braking, as Edmunds says that the big SUV takes "134 feet" to stop from 60 mph.