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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
The standard Yukon XL benefits from a similarly updated 5.3-liter 355-hp V-8, which makes it about as quick as the last-generation Denali.
Car and Driver
The 6.2-liter gives this lineman-sized SUV the quickness of a running back.
The big news with these engines is direct fuel injection, which helps deliver both more power and more fuel efficiency.
While driving around Lake Tahoe for three days, there was never a want or need for more power.
The 6.2 liter Denali's payload rating is actually about 125 lbs lower than the 5.3 liter Yukon XL, while towing capacity drops by 200 lbs, both owing to the Denali's heavier weight.
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.
Potent V-8 engines, available four-wheel drive, and improved gas mileage make the 2015 GMC Yukon a remarkable SUV.