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- Muscular engines
- Good for towing
- Luxurious interior
- Chiseled looks
- Denali’s ride quality
- Interior not that roomy on regular Yukon
- Denali is eye-poppingly expensive
- High liftover for cargo loading
- Crossovers make more sense for most
The 2018 GMC Yukon is an old-school SUV updated for the 21st century.
The 2018 GMC Yukon is a traditional SUV with enough muscular V-8 power to tow just about anything. It’s old-fashioned underneath with its body-on-frame construction, but it doesn’t feel like a relic.
Accordingly, we’ve rated the Yukon lineup—which includes standard-length and Yukon XL body styles—at 6.6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The 2018 Yukon is offered in SLE, SLT, and Denali trim levels. None is basic, but the Denali is nearly as luxurious as the related Cadillac Escalade. Chevrolet also sells a version of this basic vehicle as the Tahoe (short-wheelbase) and Suburban (long-wheelbase). Shop both, since the Chevy is usually a few bucks cheaper than the GMC.
This year, the Yukon Denali gains a sophisticated 10-speed automatic transmission, a slightly revised look (you’ll really have to squint to see the differences), and an Ultimate Package that bundles most options. The standard Yukon and Yukon XL are largely unchanged.
Yukons are offered with rear- or four-wheel drive and a choice of a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V-8 or a 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8 that’s exclusive to the Yukon Denali. A 6-speed automatic is included with the smaller V-8, while the 6.2-liter makes use of a new 10-speed. The Yukon’s separate ladder frame and beefy solid rear axle endow a properly equipped variant to tow up to 8,500 pounds. The 5.3-liter V-8 provides more than adequate acceleration and returns surprisingly good fuel economy; the bigger V-8 flips those attributes with a robust feel and the downside being on a first-name basis with your local Texaco.
Inside, the Yukon benefits from a car-like dashboard and a high-quality feel throughout—as it should at a base price of around $50,000. The Yukon—along with its Chevy twins—is the last SUV to offer a three-place bench seat up front, but few dealers stock this configuration. Instead, two overstuffed bucket seats and a center console give front seat passengers a commanding view out. The second row’s not quite as roomy, and row three ranges from surprisingly tight with the standard wheelbase to adult-friendly in Yukon XLs. With the third row upright, Yukons have precious little cargo space, but Yukon XLs can store several suitcases. The third row folds flat, but the cargo floor is oddly high off the ground thanks to the old-school solid rear axle tucked underneath. Rivals like the Ford Expedition have a lower load floor.
In addition to the expected airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control system, a bucket seat-equipped Yukon includes a front-center airbag designed to prevent the driver and passenger from bumping noggins in a wreck. Adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking are available, as are blind-spot monitors, lane-departure warnings, and front parking sensors.
All Yukons feature an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system is easy to sort through at quick glance and can be upgraded with a baked-in navigation system for not too much extra.