2016 GMC Yukon Review

Consumer Reviews
2 Reviews
2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Editor
June 27, 2016

The 2016 GMC Yukon has the power and capability to haul up to nine passengers, their stuff, and the family boat.

With its modern styling and features, relatively efficient powertrains, and towing and hauling capability, the 2016 GMC Yukon is a very compelling offering for those who need to do more than just carry around the family.

It is one of the few remaining full-sized, truck-based SUVs on the market.

The Yukon doesn't share body panels with the Sierra pickup, but it does use the same triple-sealed door strategy, ladder-type frame, and V-8 power. The Yukon family of SUVs includes the standard length Yukon, the long-wheelbase Yukon XL, and the luxurious Yukon Denali. These vehicles are more closely related to the 2016 Chevy Tahoe and 2016 Suburban, as they share the same structure.

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Available in two body styles as before, the Yukon rides on two wheelbases: the standard version's wheelbase is 116 inches, while the Yukon XL's is 130 inches. The styling uses the traditional SUV cues of a large, boxy shape, but adds a modern touch of sharper lines that create a well tailored look. Most models have projector-beam headlamps; Denali models have a distinctive grille and high-intensity discharge headlamps.

The cabin is covered in soft-touch materials, and the Denali trim provides a downright luxurious experience. For those who want more, features such as ambient lighting, Blu-ray rear seat entertainment, a Bose Centerpoint surround sound audio system, and retractable side steps are available.

Powertrains, which are shared with the full-size Sierra pickup as well as the other GM SUVs, include a choice of two V-8s. The standard engine is the same 5.3-liter V-8 found in the Sierra; in the Yukon, it's rated at 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. The upgrade engine is GM's 6.2-liter V-8, which makes 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque in the Yukon. Both powerplants are teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission, and buyers can choose between rear- and four-wheel drive. In our time behind the wheel, the engines have been impressive, delivering strong acceleration and relatively good gas mileage thanks to a pair of engine technologies, namely direct injection and cylinder-deactivation technology. These features yield EPA fuel economy ratings as high as 16 mpg city, 23 highway, 18 combined.

For best performance, safety, and rigidity, the Yukon's frame is composed primarily of high-strength steel. The Yukon still uses a rear live-axle, leaf-spring design, but an available Magnetic Ride Control adjustable suspension helps filter out the bumps that the solid axle sends from side to side. A locking rear differential is standard. The Yukon also has electric power steering, like the Sierra. Maximum towing capacity is 8,500 pounds.

The Yukon's interior shares its sleek look with the Sierra, but it also boasts a flat-folding arrangement for the second- and third-row seats, with optional power assistance. Interior storage includes a center console large enough to store a notebook computer. Legroom is plentiful in the second row, and in the third-row of the XL model. However, the standard wheelbase Yukon lacks third-row legroom, and third-row headroom is tight in all models. An available power-folding system for the second and third rows makes cargo-area access much easier; the seats can be laid down (or, in the case of the third row, raised back into seating position) by the press of a few buttons in the rear hatch area.

Noise damping has been a special focus. In addition to the inset, triple-sealed doors, the windshield and front glass are laminated for less sound intrusion and active noise cancellation is available. Ride quality is very good, and cabin quietness is remarkable.

The Yukon merits some of GM's latest safety technology. Along with the usual airbags and stability control, the Yukon gets a front-center airbag when it's equipped with front bucket seats. Adaptive cruise control is an option, as are a lane-departure warning system with seat-mounted haptic alerts, blind-spot monitors, forward collision alerts, and front parking sensors.

New for 2016 is the addition of Apple Car Play to the IntelliLink infotainment system. Among the returning features on the Yukon utes are Bose audio, keyless ignition, an 8.0-inch touchscreen interface, a head-up display, a power tailgate, a cargo-management system, and up to five USB ports located on the center console. A Blu-ray DVD entertainment system is also an option, as are wheels sized up to 22 inches.

The most efficient version of the Yukon is the base 5.3-liter V-8 engine in a short-wheelbase rear-drive model; it is rated at 16 mpg city, 23  highway, 18 combined. At the other end of the spectrum, the four-wheel-drive Yukon Denali XL with the 6.2-liter V-8 engine rates 14/20/16 mpg combined. The rest of the variations variations fit between these two bookends.

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2016 GMC Yukon

Styling

The 2016 GMC Yukon has modern, squared-off, high-belted look that is still appropriately macho.

With its straight-edged look, the 2016 GMC Yukon is an offensive lineman in a crisp suit. It's tall and masculine, with squared off corners and a commanding presence. While GM says it doesn't share body panels with the Sierra pickup, it does take cues from that vehicle, including doors that are triple sealed and set into the side of the body instead of wrapping into the roof.

Despite the brick-like shape, GM has focused on aerodynamics to help boost gas mileage.

Inside, the look of the 2016 Yukon is similar to that of a modern sedan, without some of the truck-like tendencies of the previous-generation Yukon. However, the center console is much larger than you'll find in a sedan, and the center stack features larger dials. The center stack is also dominated by the GMC IntelliLink infotainment screen, which also features large icons that take you to the various submenus.

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2016 GMC Yukon

Performance

The 2016 GMC Yukon is fuel efficient for its size, offers plenty of power, and provides a smooth but cumbersome driving experience.

Used to their best effect, full-size SUVs tow boats, haul trailers, and carry families. They do real work, and that means they need strong engines. Fortunately, the 2016 GMC Yukon has a pair of engines that are up to the task.

The standard Yukon and Yukon XL models are motivated by GM's 5.3-liter V-8, which produces 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. Yukon Denali models get an upgrade to the 6.2-liter V-8, which churns out 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. All versions of the Yukon are offered with rear- or four-wheel drive.

GM employs two main engine technologies to improve power and performance, making these V-8s both surprisingly efficient and eminently capable. Direct injection improves engine responsiveness and allows for more precise fuel metering, while cylinder deactivation can shut down half of the cylinders under low-load situations.

The cylinder deactivation process is seamless. It's so well integrated that you'll only notice it by spotting a "V4" or "V8" indicator in the instrument panel. If more acceleration is required than the V-4 mode can produce, the other four cylinders fire back up almost instantly.

In the real world, the Yukon is fairly efficient for its size. GMC balances that efficiency with a towing capacity of up to 8,500 pounds, giving the 2016 GMC Yukon capability near the top of the full-size SUV class. That makes this full-size SUV a top pick for those who do more than commute or haul the family to work or school.

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2016 GMC Yukon

Comfort & Quality

The Yukon offers nothing if not utility. It has seating for up to nine in a with a refined, luxurious cabin.

The Yukon's cabin a luxurious space for a family of up to nine. The leather upholstery, particularly in Denali models, ascends to luxury territory, while the real aluminum and wood trim makes a further claim on luxury status. Even in less-optioned models, overall fit and finish of the cabin is solid and tidy.

A great deal of effort went into quieting the cabin of the new Yukon, from special exterior design concerns to available active noise cancellation; even without the electronic aids, however, the cabin of the Yukon is quiet, allowing easy conversations at normal indoor volumes.

The 2016 Yukon offers easy access to the roomy second row thanks to wide door openings. Legroom in the third row is tight in the standard wheelbase models, but it has enough room for adult legs in the XL. However, headroom is lacking in all models, so the third row is best left to children or shorter adults.

Given the Yukon's large footprint, it's no surprise that cargo and payload capacity are both plentiful. Yukon XL models offer a huge rear cargo bay with 38.9 cubic feet behind the third row, 76.7 cubic feet behind the second row, and 121.1 cubic feet with the second- and third-rows folded. The standard-wheelbase Yukon still offers plenty of space, however, with 15.3 cubic feet behind third row, 57.6 cubic feet behind second row, and up to 94.7 cubic feet behind the front row. Unlike the last generation models, which had a removable third row, the third row now folds into the floor. That's a huge improvement, but the floor doesn't sit as low as in some competitors.

A clever rising center display screen hides a cubby space with a powered USB port, making the perfect place to stash your phone out of site while staying connected. In the instrument panel, an LCD display relays several ranges of information, including cylinder deactivation status, gas mileage, and more. The overall effect is modern and high-tech.

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2016 GMC Yukon

Safety

A segment-exclusive front-center airbag highlights a suite of safety features that includes many of the latest high-tech options.

The 2016 Yukon leverages some of GM's latest high-tech safety features to improve driver awareness as well as accident avoidance.

In crash tests conducted by federal regulators the Yukon earns the top five-star ratings for frontal and side impacts, a three-star rollover rating (due to the geometry of a high center of mass), and a four-star overall score. The Yukon hasn't been tested by the IIHS, and it likely never will be because that agency doesn't usually test the largest body-on-frame SUVs.

Standard safety gear includes a rearview camera, six airbags, plus a class-exclusive front center airbag for models with front bucket seats. A head-up display is also available, relaying key information into the driver's line of sight, thereby reducing distraction.

Some of the available safety features found on the 2016 GMC Yukon include a vibrating driver's seat to alert the driver of the location of certain crash threats, adaptive cruise control with automatic braking, and sensors that detect crash threats from all sides of the vehicle, alerting the driver.

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2016 GMC Yukon

Features

The Yukon is offered with a variety of amenities, including Blu-ray rear seat entertainment, a head-up display, and an on-board wi-fi hotspot.

Standard features on base Yukons include a Bose audio system, the GMC IntelliLink infotainment system with 8.0-inch touchscreen, a 110-volt power outlet, a rearview camera, front and rear park assistance systems, and a segment-exclusive front center air bag.

Optional extras (some of which come standard on higher-trim models) include driver assistance and alert technologies such as forward collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, side blind-zone alert, and adaptive cruise control with automatic braking; many of these systems alert drivers to possible dangers with vibrations through the Safety Alert Seat. Other optional upgrades include a head-up display, ignition, a heated/tilt/telescoping steering wheel, power-folding second- and third-row seats, and a height-programmable powered rear lift gate. Second- and third-row Blu-ray entertainment is available as well.

Denali models upgrade to a higher base specification, including all of the driver alert technologies (although adaptive cruise control is still an optional extra); a 10-speaker Bose Centerpoint surround sound system; active noise cancellation; heated and cooled front-row seats; heated second-row seats; power-folding second- and third-row seats; an eight-inch customizable driver display; IntelliLink with navigation, Bluetooth, audio streaming, and five USB ports; and GM's third-generation Magnetic Ride Control suspension.

Due to the long standard equipment list, Denalis offer fewer options. These include a head-up display, a variety of unique 22-inch wheels, retractable side steps, a roof rack, a sunroof, rear-seat Blu-ray entertainment, and a heated split-folding second row bench seat.

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2016 GMC Yukon

Fuel Economy

Big and brawny and sporting V-8 power, the Yukon's truck-like capabilities are offset by a thirst for fuel.

The most efficient version of the Yukon is the base 5.3-liter V-8 engine in a short-wheelbase rear-drive model; it is rated at 16 mpg city, 23 highway, 18 combined. At the other end of the spectrum, the four-wheel-drive Yukon Denali XL with the 6.2-liter V-8 engine rates 14/20/16 mpg combined. The rest of the variations variations fit between these two bookends. 

General Motors does what it can to maximize the fuel economy of the Yukon, but simple physics wins out in the end. Both engines feature direct injection and cylinder deactivation, but you will still pay at the pump for all the passenger, cargo, and towing capacity of this 6,000-pound SUV.

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May 11, 2016
2016 GMC Yukon 4WD 4-Door SLE

not a safe car , totally not reliable

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the car has serious transmission problems, it suddenly breaks down, the dealer does not know how to fix it ,if somebody takes it to remote area like a desert they might die if not rescued, my Yukon was... + More »
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November 22, 2015
For 2016 GMC Yukon

Love it except fpr

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Seats are not level after folded down has a angle ,higher in the front than the rear.what do you suppose happens when transport items traveling down the road,? this really sucks!
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Styling 8
Performance 7
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