2018 GMC Yukon XL 2018 GMC Yukon XL

2018 GMC Yukon XL

Along with its more modestly-priced Chevrolet Suburban counterpart, the GMC Yukon XL holds the title of the largest SUV currently for sale. Capable of towing 8,300 lbs. and transporting up to nine passengers, it also offers handsome cabin fitments and numerous available high-tech extras. The Denali variant approaches Cadillac levels of luxury.

Buyers who don't need the extended wheelbase can look at the smaller Yukon, which also offers a luxed-up Denali version.

Recent changes

For the most recent model year, the Yukon received only a small handful of enhancements. The most significant is a new transmission exclusive to the Denali model


It's most definitely an old-school, pickup-based utility vehicle that doesn't falter at the prospect of traversing a torturous trail or towing a heavy boat, but the Yukon XL is also up to the task of serving as a cushy people and cargo hauler.

As its prodigious dimensions suggest, the Yukon XL features generous space for passengers across all three rows of seating. Notably, the second row can be outfitted with individual captain's chairs for a seating capacity of eight, or a bench seat for nine-passenger capability.

With all seats upright, there's a sizable 38.9 cubic feet of stowage space; start folding down seats - which now fold flat - and there's enough room to swallow nearly any cargo. With the third row seat in the recumbent position, 76.7 cubic feet are available, and a full 121.1 cubes can be had by also folding down the second row.

Providing a dose of luxury is the Yukon XL's handsome cabin design, which features a swept-back dashboard and upscale materials like metallic-appearance trim and available perforated leather upholstery. Futhermore, all Yukon XLs except the base model are equipped with GMC's MyLink infotainment system, which integrates entertainment and navigation functions (when equipped), and also offers access to smartphone-based apps like Pandora radio and Stitcher radio.

The system can be controlled through dashboard knobs, steering wheel buttons or an eight-inch touchscreen (which motors up to reveal a hidden storage compartment), and there's also a voice recognition system for hands-free calls, destination entering, song selection and more. Its "natural language” functioning can recognize a staggering number of phrases - effectively eliminating the need for the clunky and cumbersome memorized commands.

The Yukon XL also offers numerous luxury extras, including heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a Bose surround sound stereo and a rear-seat Blue-ray entertainment system. The Yukon XL Denali ups the ante even further, although its feature content has not yet been announced.

Powertrains, Towing and Fuel Economy

The Yukon XL comes standard with a pushrod 5.3-liter V8 that produces 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. The Yukon XL Denali utilizes a 6.2-liter V8 with 420 ponies and 450 lb-ft of twist.

Both mills are equipped with direct-injection, variable valve timing and a cylinder deactivation system. The 5.3-liter sends its output to the wheels by way of a six-speed automatic transmission, while the 6.2-liter benefits from a fuel-saving ten-speed automatic.

Rear-wheel-drive is standard, while four-wheel-drive is an extra-cost option. RWD models equipped with an available Maximum Trailering Package can tow up to 8,300 lbs.

Although not a dedicated mud-slinger, the Yukon XL is more than capable of handling light off-roading situations - if there's enough space on the trail to accommodate its sizable dimensions.

Rear-wheel drive Yukon XLs with the 5.3-liter V8 are rated at 16/23 city/highway mpg, while four-wheel drive variants check in at 15/22 mpg. The 6.2-liter returns 15 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway with two-wheel drive and 14/20 with all-wheel drive.

The Yukon XL Denali is equipped with a Magnetic Ride Control real-time damping system, which can adjust the dampers in the blink of an eye to mitigate body roll during hard cornering or keep the ride comfortable while cruising.

Trim Level Breakdown

GMC offers the Yukon XL in SLE, SLT and Denali trims.

The Yukon XL SLE comes standard with cloth upholstery, an IntelliLink infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen, an 4.2-inch instrument cluster info screen, an AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM/HD radio Bose stereo system with AUX and USB inputs, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, front and rear parking assist, power-adjustable front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, remote keyless entry, remote start, power windows and locks, cruise control, automatic tri-zone climate control, a 110-volt power outlet, five auxiliary 12-volt power outlets, heated exterior mirrors, a tilt steering wheel, fog lights, auto on/off windshield wipers, a locking rear differential, capless fuel filler and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The SLE can be optioned up with the Driver Alert Package, which includes forward collision alert, automatic high beams, lane-keeping assist and a lane departure warning system. It also offers the Convenience Package with power-adjustable pedals, a universal garage door opener, a power tailgate and an auto-dimming interior rearview mirror.

To the SLE's features, the Yukon SLT adds the Driver Alert and Convenience packages, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats with memory functionality, heated and power-adjustable second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, power-folding third-row seats, a proximity key, push-button start, a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, side blind zone alert with lane change alert, rear cross traffic alert and power-folding exterior mirrors.

Both trim levels are available with the Heavy Duty Trailering Package. It includes a 3.42 rear axle ratio, a trailer brake controller, a "premium smooth ride suspension” with air leveler, and on 4WD models, a two-speed active transfer case.

The SLT can be spec'd with the Open Road package, a bundle that adds a navigation system, a rear Blue-ray entertainment system with nine-inch screen, nine extra months of SiriusXM and NavTraffic and a power sunroof.

Buyers can also order the Enhanced Security Package, which bundles a self-powered horn, interior movement and vehicle inclination sensors as well as door lock shields and glass break sensors in the liftgate and the rear quarter windows.

Stand-alone options include navigation, a sunroof and an interior motion-sensing anti-theft system.

The Denali comes standard with unique chrome exterior trim, a navigation system, an upgraded 10-speaker Bose Centerpoint audio system, magnetic ride control and 20-inch bright machined aluminum wheels.

The Denali is offered with the Premium Package, which includes a head-up display, illuminated power retractable assist steps and adaptive cruise control with front automatic braking. It can also be ordered with the SLT's Open Road and Enhanced Security packages.

Occupant Safety

All Yukon XL models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a front center airbag and traction and stability control systems.

Available safety features include a forward collision alert system, which warns the driver when it sense an impending crash; a lane departure warning system that alerts the driver if the Yukon XL begins to wander into an adjacent lane; a rear cross traffic alert system that warns the driver of approaching traffic in backup situations; and a rear blind spot warning system.

Key Competitors

Alternatives to the Yukon XL include the Ford Expedition EL, the Nissan Armada and the Toyota Sequoia.

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