Price as Tested: $64,520
This week, we’re driving the new 2015 GMC Yukon 4WD, delivered in top line SLT trim and featuring a 4WD system with towing capabilities of up to 8,300 lbs.
Years ago, consumers who purchased such a vehicle knew that fuel mileage might be 15 MPG at best, and that was before hooking up a travel trailer or nice size boat. Today, GM engineers have assembled one of the nicest “multi-task” vehicles that features a powerful 335-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 and an amazing 22 MPG highway EPA number, even with an optional towing package. (Tow package includes brake controller, two-speed transfer case and suspension package for $650 extra).
With up to nine-passenger seating (yes, nine-passenger) and “all seat down” cargo capacity of over 90 cu. ft., the need for anything larger could well disappear as the “smaller” Yukon comes in a 116-inch wheelbase layout, much shorter than Yukon’s extra long wheelbase “XL” version, which is built on a 130-inch wheelbase and is similar to brother Chevy Suburban. Your dealer will gladly explain.
New features for 2015 include an enhanced exterior featuring inlaid doors that add to aerodynamic slipstreaming; revamped 5.3-liter V8 with active cylinder management (runs on four cylinders on turnpike); power folding seats; and segment first front row airbag to handle a front center passenger.
We really got some heavy duty and long trip use out of our GMC during a weeklong test. Our Yukon was delivered not far from Elmira, N.Y. and then used for a vacation destination at Stone Harbor, N.J. Thus, the Yukon received a “full-tilt” test with three adults and our 17-year-old Shitzu dog partaking. Cargo was packed to capacity with beach bound necessities, and my family enjoyed the many amenities inside from three-zone air to rear seat DVD entertainment.
Still, as nice as Yukon is overall, the best news is GMC’s fuel economy. As “Test Drive” files this review from Stone Harbor Monday morning, we averaged 19.8 MPG for 406.2 miles driven thus far. This number includes three days of “in-town” usage, which dropped fuel mileage from 23.8 when we first arrived to its current number.
This outstanding fuel mileage coupled with the safety and comfort of Yukon SLT ranks this tester right up there with our best test drives of the year. Additionally, prospective buyers can opt for the 2WD version, where highway MPG moves up to 23 EPA. All Yukons use the GM six-speed automatic transmission, and or those who need more power a 420-horse 6.2-liter V8 is available although fuel mileage drops to 14/21 for the 4WD and 15/21 for the 2WD. Unless you need to town a fifth wheel house trailer, we recommend the 5.3 over the 6.2.
On the road, Yukon’s near three-ton build may be intimidating for some. However, and thanks to standard driving assist features like rear view camera, forward collision system, side and blind alert, lane change system, lane departure warning and rear cross traffic alert, what once was a “scary” vehicle is now an easy to drive GM success story that cruises, turns, handles and parks in fine fashion.
Built in Arlington, Texas, Yukon’s plush and quiet cabin deserves extra mention. Countless amenities abound as nowadays, when you talk GMC Yukon SLT (or Chevy Tahoe), you’re talking Cadillac-style luxury and ultra-comfort surroundings. Standard features include leather seats, Bose premium audio, Sirius/XM, heated and cooled seats, On Star, every power imaginable and so much more. Add safety items like all traction controls, upgraded four-wheel ABS disc brakes, 18-inch aluminum wheels and tires and you’re riding in one of the safest vehicles on the road today.
Our tester, meanwhile, stood taller thanks to optional 20-inch tires and beautiful chrome alloys, which adds $1,400 to the price. A few other options, including a $3,255 sunroof and entertainment package, pushed Yukon’s final price to $64,520, which includes $995 delivery. The entry 2WD SLE starts at $46,335, so there’s lots of room to work.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 116-inches; 5,707-curb weight; up to 94.7 cu. ft. of cargo space; 8.0-inch ground clearance; 26-gallon regular grade fuel tank; and a 572-mile highway cruising range.
In summary, 2015 GMC Yukon is highly recommended to folks who desire “Cadillac genes” with a more discreet GMC badge. If you’re shopping the large SUV market, GMC Yukon is a must on your dealer visit list as from fuel mileage to payload, it delivers.
Likes: Fuel mileage, versatility, looks, V8 power, great MPG.
Dislikes: Price high with options, but in a class with few competitors.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist).