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- Refined demeanor
- Sauve interior
- Denali's Magnetic Ride Control
- Automatic emergency braking
- Expensive, especially with options
- Third row folds flat but takes up a lot of room
- A crossover may make more sense for many
If you've got a lot to haul, the GMC Yukon range is one of the best ways to do it. But if not, consider a crossover that will use much less fuel and be better to drive.
Its spec sheet may read like an SUV from a different era, but the 2017 GMC Yukon range is a highly refined passenger, cargo, and trailer-hauler that makes a compelling choice to those who need to carry around more than just the family.
Only a few changes mark 2017 for the Yukon, which is available in SLE, SLT, and Denali models, and is offered in standard and extended-length Yukon XL configurations in either rear- or four-wheel drive.
We rate the 2017 GMC Yukon a 6.5 out of 10 overall, based on its refinement, its towing capability, and its interior and exterior styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The GMC Yukon and Yukon XL are functionally identical to the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, but they do offer a few more standard features, their own styling, and a range-topping Denali trim level.
2017 GMC Yukon styling and performance
The Yukon doesn't share body panels with the automaker's Sierra pickup, but the two are clearly siblings. And both utilize the same triple-sealed door strategy, ladder-type frame, and V-8 powerplants. The Yukon is boxy in both standard length and long-wheelbase Yukon XL configurations, a traditional SUV that's modernized with some sharp lines that create a tailored look. Denali models add a distinctive grille and HID headlamps, as well as upsized wheels; they're a little much for our eyes, though.
The standard Yukon's wheelbase is 116 inches, while the Yukon XL's stretches 130 inches, with that space going toward more rear seat leg room and more cargo room.
Inside, you'll find a dashboard that diverges from the Sierra and a choice of seating configurations. SLEs offer seating for nine passengers thanks to their standard (and exceptionally rare these days) front bench seat, but most models you'll find on dealer lots will have bucket seats and a wide center console. Both Yukons and Yukon XLs come standard with a three-piece second row bench and seating for three more in a folding third row, although second row captain's chairs are optional. That third row is best for children regardless of trim, although the Yukon XLs are roomier than you might expect back there. The third row folds flat into the cargo floor, but because of the truck's solid rear axle and conventional frame, the load floor is very high.
Powertrains are shared with the full-size Sierra pickup as well as the other GM SUVs and include a choice between two V-8s. A standard 5.3-liter V-8 comes in at 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque, while Denalis feature a 6.2-liter V-8 rated at 420 hp and 460 lb-ft. The 5.3 is mated to a 6-speed automatic, while the 6.2 comes with an 8-speed. Both engines are thriftier than you might think thanks to direct injection and cylinder-deactivation technology, the latter of which lets them run on four cylinders during lower load situations.
Regardless of engine, there's a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive, although with its dimensions, the Yukon isn't exactly an off-roader meant for much more than a wide dirt trail. A beefy steel frame with a rear live axle mated to coil springs sits underneath, which delivers a maximum of 8,500 pounds towing capacity. Curiously, the Denali tops out at 8,400 despite its stronger engine.
2017 GMC Yukon comfort, safety, and features
A tale of three classes, the Yukon delivers first class accommodations in front, decent room in the second row, and rather tight space all the way back in steerage. Consider the Yukon XL if you're likely to haul adults in the second and third row with any regularity, as they offer more stretch-out space. An optional power-folding system for the second and third row makes cargo access easier, too.
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.
For the most part, feature availability between the Yukon and Yukon XL is identical. On both, SLEs are well-equipped with the expected power amenities, but SLTs add leather seats that are heated for the front two rows and cooled for driver and passenger, as well as a host of safety tech and a proximity key. If that's not quite enough, the Denali has its own appearance plus the 6.2-liter V-8, but its price can easily top $75,000 with a few options.
The Yukon merits some of GM's latest safety technology, including new-for-2017 automatic emergency braking standard on SLT and Denali models and optional on SLEs.
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.
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.