Full-size SUVs require strong engines, not just for acceleration and passing, but for towing and hauling--people actually use these expensive people-movers for real work (and real, hard play). Fortunately, the 2015 GMC Yukon has a pair of engines that are up to the task.
The standard Yukon and Yukon XL get GM's new 5.3-liter V-8, rated at 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. Yukon Denali models get an upgrade to the 6.2-liter V-8 and its 420-horsepower and 460-pound-foot ratings. All versions of the Yukon can choose from rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive systems.
With direct injection for improved engine responsiveness and more precise fuel metering, as well as cylinder deactivation technology that can cut half of the cylinders off under low-load situations, the new V-8s, in both 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter forms, are both surprisingly efficient and eminently capable.
The cylinder deactivation system can silently and seamlessly turn off half of the V-8's cylinders, letting you cruise in V-4 mode. It's so well-executed, you'll only notice by looking at the instrument panel LCD, where a "V4" or "V8" indicator announces the current status. If more acceleration is required than V4 mode can produce, the other four cylinders fire back up almost instantly.
Combined with a towing capacity of up to 8,600 pounds, the 2015 GMC Yukon's performance is at the upper edge of all SUVs, making it a top pick for those who do more than commute or haul family to work or school--but also a fairly efficient choice for those who require an SUV that can do it all.