Launched in 2008, the Yukon Hybrid enters its third year virtually unchanged. The Two-Mode Hybrid system combines a specially tuned 332-horsepower, 6.0-liter aluminum V-8 with an electrically operated continuously variable transmission jointly developed by General Motors, Chrysler, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. That transmission is an astoundingly complex mix of fixed gears, clutches, planetary gear sets, and two electric motor generators, all of which add up to a system that can run the 2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid on electric power alone, supplement the gas engine with electric torque, and recharge the nickel-metal-hydride battery pack that powers the motors. The Yukon Hybrid will accelerate gently on electric power up to 27 mph, though top speed falls during cold weather. Both air conditioning and power steering run electrically, so they function whether the engine is on or off. When the gasoline engine does kick in, it's seamless and easy to miss. Under light loads, it also runs on just four cylinders to save fuel, a feature GM calls Active Fuel Management.
Driving the 2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid requires no special skills; you interact with the vehicle as you would a normal Yukon. The result of all the technology is a large, luxurious SUV with abundant torque that drives beautifully. It cruises quietly, and the low-speed electric mode is quiet enough to be almost eerie. As for fuel economy, the Yukon Hybrid delivers in spades. The EPA rates it at 21 mpg city, 22 mpg highway for the rear-wheel-drive version-a full 50 percent better in the city than the standard Yukon with a 5.3-liter V-8-and 20 mpg city, 20 mpg highway for the all-wheel-drive version. It holds the road fairly well, considering that it is a tall, heavy vehicle with a solid rear axle, though passengers will know when the rear wheels hit a rough patch. The Yukon Denali Hybrid features GM's MagnaRide suspension, which uses magnetic particles in the shock absorber fluid to adjust the damping rate electrically.
Reviewers rave about the Two-Mode Hybrid system in the 2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid. Motor Trend says, "In large-SUV history, this just might be the single greatest leap forward in powertrain technology." USA Today attests it "works well in city and highway use, instead of favoring one, as rival systems do." Edmunds states that the 6.0-liter V-8 engine coupled to a pair of 60-kilowatt electric motors will "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 2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid's Active Fuel Management system switches "from eight cylinders to four" when cruising. 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."
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." Reviewers are unanimously impressed by the ride and handling, what ForbesAutos 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 SUV 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," though Popular Mechanics considers the brakes "tricky to operate for smooth deceleration when towing." Car and Driver lists the 2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid's "refined ride" as one of its greatest attributes. USA Today chimes in that the 2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid boasts the "same nimble feel and tight turning circle that allow all GM biggies to drive as if they're midsize." Edmunds notes "maximum towing capacity for a properly equipped 4WD model is 6,000 pounds."
Fuel economy on the 2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid is the primary reason consumers will purchase this vehicle, and it doesn't disappoint. Car and Driver says that the 2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid boasts "mpg gains of up to 25 percent" over traditional Yukon models.